Unable to secure a summer move elsewhere, the Swiss defender was left off the club’s 25-man Premier League squad this week in favour of fellow misfit Charles N’Zogbia and now looks set to spend the next few months in the wilderness until the transfer window reopens in the New Year.
Manager Tim Sherwood’s decision to leave him out of his plans should not come as a huge surprise given the other centre-back options at his disposal but, considering how well the former Arsenal man was performing for the club at this same stage last season, his recent plight does seem somewhat unfair.
Originally joining Villa on a free transfer last June after his contract at Valencia expired, the 30-year-old started the 2014-15 season as since-departed skipper Ron Vlaar’s first-choice partner in the heart of the defence and made a good first impression.
While his addition had been a polarising one after his previous error-prone spells at Arsenal and Fulham, he silenced a fair chunk of his critics within the first four Premier League games of the campaign in helping the club climb up to second-place in the table, while conceding just one goal in the process.
A heroic performance in a 1-0 win at Liverpool earned him particular plaudits and, at the time, it looked like the former Gunners prospect would prove one of the bargain signings of the summer.
However, after earning three more top-flight starts over the next month, the experienced defender hit what would to be the turning point in his Villa career, when a thigh strain suffered in Switzerland’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia in October ruled him out for four weeks.
He made his comeback as an 88th-minute substitute in November’s 0-0 draw at West Ham United but, much to former manager Paul Lambert’s frustration, was soon sidelined again while with his national team after injuring his calf during a training session.
“That's the one I'm not happy about at all, Philippe,” Lambert told the Daily Mail at the time. “He is the one which has annoyed me the most. He went away with his national team and if you look at his record he has only played six minutes, against West Ham, for a month.
“He goes away with Switzerland and ends up pulling his calf in a training exercise. It’s mismanagement from the FA in Switzerland. They should have been in dialogue and seen his record in the first place and that he didn't play for a month.
“It's OK for them to go away and think, ‘We have only lost a centre-half,’ but we have lost him for a month again when he has been a vital part of the team.”
|2014-15 Premier League||Position||Team||Errors Lead To Goal||Total Tackles||Tackle Accuracy||Total Clearances||Headers Won||Header Success||Interceptions||Passing Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Philippe Senderos||DF||Aston Villa||0||7||43%||48||6||46%||9||82%||8||632|
Senderos ended up being out for much more than a month, however, as it was not until April that he returned to action in the Under-21 side’s 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United.
In his absence, Ciaran Clark, Jores Okore and Nathan Baker had all risen above him in the pecking order and, with Sherwood also replacing Lambert at the helm, the 54-times capped veteran failed to make it back into the first-team picture during the run-in.
The departure of Vlaar this summer seemed to offer some hope of a reprieve, but with the new boss since adding Micah Richards, Jose Angel Crespo, Joleon Lescott and Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori to the equation, his situation has far from improved.
Aside from the a 45-minute run-out in the pre-season opener against former club Fulham, the ex-AC Milan man has not even made the bench under Sherwood and saw defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez used ahead of him at centre-back for the recent 5-3 Capital One Cup second-round win over Notts County.
With his contract expiring next summer, a move to Turkish outfit Rizespor was rumoured to be in the works before the transfer deadline [h/t Eurosport] but, with nothing materialising in the end, he now finds himself without a squad number and resigned to spending the first half of the season in the reserves unless a Championship club emerges to take him on loan.
It certainly seems like a harsh way to treat a player who has actually impressed for the club when called upon and shown little sign of discontent or unprofessionalism during his time in the doghouse either – unlike N’Zogbia, who, despite also being surplus to requirements, still managed to sneak into the squad.
The polarising Frenchman might be more appealing to Sherwood than Senderos due to his position but he has done nothing for the club over the past few seasons to suggest that he warrants his place over his older teammate – unless antagonising Villa fans on Twitter counts.
Had Lescott and Ilori not both joined just before the transfer deadline, there is no reason to think that Senderos could not have proven a solid backup this season based on last term's form and, in the grand scheme of things, there is even a decent argument to make that the aforementioned new boys were luxury signings – albeit impressive and relatively inexpensive ones.
On the flip side, given how little N’Zogbia has offered to the club’s attack – even when given numerous opportunities to justify his reported £60,000-per-week salary under both Lambert and Sherwood, few would suggest that the likes of Adama Traore and Jordan Veretout were not much-needed additions.
In all likelihood, the 29-year-old playmaker will be gone in January along with Senderos but, while the Swiss stopper can argue that he deserved a shot to rescue his Villa career, the same cannot be said for the man who still has a faint chance of saving his.