Walsall manager Matt Taylor paid tribute to an Emi Buendia-inspired Aston Villa following their 4-0 pre-season defeat to the Premier League outfit, speaking on the Saddlers’ Twitter page.
Talk about starting as you mean to go on.
Inside 32 minutes of his Aston Villa debut, £30 million record signing Buendia showed what all the fuss was about.
After setting up Ollie Watkins’ opener with an inch-perfect through ball, the former Norwich City supremo repeated the trick with an even better pass, brilliantly bisecting the Walsall defence with a stunning reverse ball as Watkins gratefully gobbled up another one-on-one opportunity.
Highly rated youngster Jaden Philogene-Bidace added a third after the break following an intelligent lay-off from the returning Wesley Moraes, before Jacob Ramsey drilled in goal number four at the death.
And Taylor, the former Portsmouth and Bolton star who took over at Walsall in May, believes his side were taught a lesson by a top-flight outfit that boasts “exceptional” quality.
Buendia and Watkins could form a fearsome partnership at Aston Villa
“You have to take your hat off to how good Aston Villa were and put things in context. Yes, we are extremely disappointed we’ve lost the game 4-0 but, for our players, it gives them a slight understanding about what top-level footballers are,” Taylor said.
“Their movement, both on and off the ball… it all comes down to decision-making.
“Let’s be brutally honest, they’re an extremely good team which, if you look at the balance of tonight, will have a successful season in the Premier League.
“The (Walsall) players got to experience how they move the ball in the Premier League – their movement, how they manipulate the opposition. They were exceptional in possession of the ball.”
Should Leon Bailey join Buendia in the Midlands – and presuming Jack Grealish stays at his boyhood club – it’s safe to assume Watkins will have plenty of chances to surpass last season’s 16-goal tally.