The month that was - August
1st August: A limited Welsh hoofer is replaced by a ball-playing Dutch international as James Collins goes to West Ham and Ron Vlaar completes his protracted move to Villa Park. Villa also beat Peterborough United 2-0 and Jack Woodward told me that Brett Holman`s brilliant finish was the culmination of a 20+ pass move. How fancy. Daniel Johnson, another youth product, also gets on the scoresheet.
2nd August: Another great piece of news after yesterday, Stan Petrov is officially confirmed as being in remission in his fight with Leukaemia. Keep fighting Stan, the whole football world is willing you on.
4th August: Villa get beaten by a clinical Nottingham Forest side, although Ron Vlaar looks good and Barry Bannan scores a great free-kick. It wasn`t far away either, so a lot of people still got home early enough to eat their tea, so it wasn`t all bad news.
6th August: Lambert says that nobody wants Alan Hutton. Ouch, but I do have a bit of sympathy for him, it`s not his fault that The One Who Shan`t Be Named spent £4 million on him.
8th August: Reports first surface that Jean Makoun is on holiday until December. December? He`s been on holiday since June 2011…
10th August: We finally discover what`s wrong with Marc Albrighton. He`s got a broken metatarsal and will be out for 6 weeks. Our midfield just got a hell of a lot narrower, but at least it highlights where we need strengthening.
11th August: Villa are entertained by German opposition this teatime, and the entertaining spectacle finished 3-3. Darren Bent manages to get in amongst the goals with a brace, which will surely do his confidence the world of good. But we show some worrying defensive frailties. Still, most of us would take a draw against a decent Bundesliga side, and the build-up to the season proper can now begin.
12th August: Villa Park plays host to the Community Shield, but nobody apart from the big-wig suits and accountants care. I hope nobody ruins my seat.
13th August: Shay Given retired from international football after receiving an Irish record of 125 caps between 1996 to today. Hopefully this will reduce his risk of injuries for Villa, and from his quotes, he seems to have done it to try and prolong his club career, so fair play to him.
14th August: Paul Lambert receives top billing at a supporters` forum, where he reveals, amongst other things, that he`s never spoken to wacky jumper enthusiast and professional escape artist Jean Makoun. The omens for his future claret and blue career don`t look good.
15th August: The Villa Under-19 side lose 3-1 at home to Sporting Lisbon in the NextGen Series, with Michael Drennan scoring our only goal. Michael Henke also joined the club as head of European scouting.
18th August: West Ham manage a 1-0 victory with a goal that at first glance doesn`t look like it should have been allowed. Said LWH has a better game than he ever did from mid-2010 onwards for Villa and also seems to be their main supply line too, considering all his hoofing into our box. I didn`t think we were as terrible as some made out here, but boy do we need a cutting edge.
22nd August: Villa`s Under-21 team beat Stoke 3-0, with Drennan netting once again, before he turned provider for Daniel Johnson. The scoring was completed by Josh Barton who raced through and unleashed a curler into the corner.
24th August: Jean Makoun completes his loan move to Rennes. Tarrah a bit.
25th August: The first home game of the season, and the early optimism is tested by an absolute stunner from Steven Pienaar. As the first-half progressed, Villa were comprehensively outplayed by a sharper, more clinical and more powerful Everton side, who added to the claret and blue misery with 2 more goals before the break. Sideshow Bob hair netted a header that Given should really have done better with, and Nikica Jelavic scored a tap-in. Ciaran Clark was sent of and Everton hit the bar in the second half, before we started playing a bit. Karim El-Ahmadi smacked a peach into the side netting and Weimann hit the post late on but that would have just papered over the cracks. A 3-1 defeat wasn`t too bad in the end, we got a bit of pride back if nothing else. The Villa Under-18 side also lost 2-1 to Stoke.
28th August: League Cup time… oh no, sorry, I should say Capital One Cup time… whatever. Anyway, a comfortable 3-0 victory does its bit to raise confidence against a Tranmere side who have started well in League One. 6 wouldn`t have been flattering for Villa, with 2 disallowed and a free-kick hitting the bar. Herd and Delph got morale boosting goals, and Bent got his first in a competitive game since QPR at VP back in February.
29th August: Villa go down 1-0 to PSV in Eindhoven in the NextGen Series. Villa complete the signing of Middlesbrough left-back Joe Bennett, who has also shown promise for the England Under-21 side. He`s got to be better than Warnock, in much the same way that Lowton`s better than Hutton, so that`s a big plus.
30th August: Nobody signed on the dotted line today, but at least we`ve got another trip to Manchester to look forward to in a cup competition…
31st August: A busy day started with a swoop for Chesterfield striker Jordan Bowery. A few Chesterfield fans seem to think he`s a similar mould to Kevin Davies, so he sounds like a good back-up †o have. Ashley Westwood, a player who was allegedly looked at by Swansea to replace Joe Allen, was also snapped up. Finally, a drawn-out saga for Genk goal-getter Christian Benteke ends after a reported fee of £7 million was agreed. I like the refreshing change in attitude regarding player recruitment - and hopefully this pushes the Lambert revolution up to a higher level.