Aston Villa end-of-season player grades

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A mid-season managerial change sparked a noticeable upturn in form among several members of the Villa first-team.

GOALKEEPERS

Brad Guzan 6/10 – Was not up to the high standards of the previous two seasons but was far from awful either before losing his place after the blunder at the Etihad. Now remains to be seen whether he still has a future with Tim Sherwood’s Villa.

Shay Given 6.5/10 – Impressed during the club’s run to the FA Cup final before getting the chance to start three of the final four Premier League games. Not quite the keeper he once was but, even at 39, he still has something to offer.

DEFENDERS

Alan Hutton 7/10 – Revived his Villa career in startling fashion, going from unwanted wage-drainer to one of the team’s most reliable performers and even receiving a contract extension until 2017.

Slowed down somewhat during the final stretch due to injuries which saw him lose his place to Bacuna but, all things considered, it was still a commendable campaign for the Scotland international.

Leandro Bacuna 7/10 – Found himself on the first-team fringes until Hutton was sidelined, when he proceeded to make the right-back role his own and show some drastic defensive improvement.

Whether full-back is his long-term position is debatable but, with his dangerous deliveries, there should be a role for him somewhere in the side.

Matthew Lowton 6/10 – Earned some solid reviews after getting the chance to start at left-back for a four-game stretch in March but otherwise made little impact. A useful squad filler but more than replaceable.

Ron Vlaar 5.5/10 – Featured just 23 times due to injuries and had some absolute horror shows over the second half of the season. A huge disappointment after his impressive World Cup campaign and, with his contract expiring this summer, his future could lie elsewhere.

Philippe Senderos 6/10 – Defied his critics with some solid performances over the first few months of the season before getting injured with Switzerland in November and never making it back to first-team action.

Nathan Baker 6.5/10 – Impressed while deputising for Vlaar during the initial stages of the season but saw ongoing knee problems restrict his involvement from November onwards. Still, a big improvement on his disastrous 2013-14 campaign.

Ciaran Clark 8/10 – Started out the season as Villa’s fourth-choice centre-back but was brought back into the fold in November when Vlaar, Senderos and Baker all went down with injuries.

Proved an absolute revelation from then on but saw his season cut short in April after suffering medial knee ligament damage in the 1-0 win at Tottenham. Still managed to receive 18 per cent of the votes for the Player of the Season award but should have got more.

Jores Okore 7/10 – Was still coming back from ligament damage going into the season and, as a result, did not feature until starting November’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton alongside Clark.

Delivered some encouraging outings over the rest of the campaign and, while there were a few questionable moments too, it’s important to remember that he will not turn 23 until August.

Aly Cissokho 6/10 – Proved solid but unspectacular under Paul Lambert, starting all but one game, but failed to make another appearance after getting injured in Sherwood’s first game in charge against Stoke.

Kieran Richardson 6/10 – Used in various different midfield roles at the beginning of the season before becoming Sherwood’s first-choice left-back during the run-in. Seemed to grow into the position more after a horrendous performance in April’s 3-3 home draw with QPR but still far from an ideal fit.

MIDFIELDERS

Fabian Delph 7.5/10 – Made a hot start to the season before a broken collarbone disrupted his progress over the winter. Came back into form after being handed the captain’s armband for the run-in, proving the heat and soul of Sherwood’s side, but can still improve his work in the final third.

Tom Cleverley 6/10 – A season of two halves. So awful under Lambert that the Scot even had to refute claims that he was being forced to start him due a clause in his loan agreement, but then made a remarkable turnaround following Sherwood’s arrival.

With Everton reported to be after his signature, though [h/t Sky Sports], it is far from clear whether the soon-to-be free agent will be back at Villa Park next season.

Ashley Westwood 7/10 – One of the more underrated members of the Villa squad this past season and should have received more plaudits for the no-nonsense role he filled in front of the back four.

Carlos Sanchez 6.5/10 – Looked like the club’s star man over the winter but was then in and out of the side following a disastrous performance in the 5-0 defeat at Arsenal. His first Premier League season was expected to be an up-and-down affair, though, and there is little to suggest that he cannot be a solid contributor next season.

Charles N’Zogbia 5.5/10 – Showed some flashes of his pre-Villa form after being brought back into the side under Sherwood but still left a lot to be desired.

Jack Grealish 7/10 – Struggled to keep himself in Lambert’s plans over the first half of the season until rewarding new boss Sherwood’s faith in him during the run-in with some excellent performances over nine straight starts.

His disappearing act in the FA Cup final showed that there is still a lot of work ahead but there is no doubt that he is a rare talent who could be a Premier League star in the making.

Joe Cole 5/10 – Few expected the veteran to make much of an impact upon his summer arrival and he did little to prove them wrong, having fought a constant fitness battle throughout the season.

Did show the odd moment of skill and flair but, at this stage, his legs seem to be failing him.

Scott Sinclair 6/10 – Made an encouraging start after arriving on loan from Manchester City, bagging three goals during a four-game stretch, but later saw his noted injury problems resurface to limit his impact over the final two months.

Nevertheless, having now secured a permanent switch, he will have the chance to rediscover his once-lauded potential at Villa Park moving forward.

Carles Gil N/A – Looked like the elusive No. 10 Villa had been searching for in the weeks following his mid-season signing but then fell out of favour with Sherwood in speculator fashion after lasting just 58 minutes into his first game in charge.

Made just a one-minute cameo over the final 15 games of the season and could now be heading for the exit door after less than six months in the Midlands. Tough to give him a fair grade as a result.

FORWARDS

Christian Benteke 7.5/10 – Scored just three times in 19 games under Lambert after returning from a ruptured Achilles but had a remarkable turnaround with Sherwood at the helm, netting 12 goals in the last 13 matches.

However, with his recent impressive form attracting reported interest from the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United [h/t Sky Sports], his time at Villa could well be coming to an end.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 6/10 – Much like Benteke, the long-serving striker looked reinvigorated upon Sherwood’s arrival, scoring three goals in March, but a hamstring problem suffered in April’s win at Tottenham gave him little chance of building on that form during the final weeks.

Andreas Weimann 5/10 – Seemed primed for a solid season after netting twice in the opening three league games but did almost nothing from then on and now looks like one of the leading candidates to be sold this summer.

Darren Bent 4/10 – Given a second chance in pre-season with Benteke still rehabbing but managed just seven brief cameos for a total of 83 minutes over the following months before heading out on loan to the Championship.

Set to be out-of-contract, he could still return on a new deal but will not be Sherwood’s first-choice to replace Benteke in the event of the Belgian striker’s departure.

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