Micah Richards
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Tim Sherwood is key to rejuvenating Micah Richards at Aston Villa

| 18.06.2015

Aston Villa have agreed to sign Micah Richards on a free transfer once his contract at Manchester City expires on July 1, with the 26-year-old agreeing a four-year contract.

Richards came through the ranks at City and was there before Sheikh Mansour’s investment; often a permanent fixture under former bosses Stuart Pearce, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini.

Adaptable, he can play either at right back or in the centre of defence and has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League. Perhaps unlucky that Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t a fan of him, it doesn’t mean Richards won’t play at the top level. Under Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa, he can work his way back into England contention.

Speaking about his new recruit, Sherwood said: “Micah is a winner. He helped Manchester City win their first Premier League title in 44 years, has won the FA Cup and has played in the Champions League.

“So we are signing a player who is used to winning football matches. I want players with that winning mentality here.”

With the Euro 2016 championships approaching, it gives the player a great chance to capture the attention of Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson, who has used four different players at right back and shown he is more than willing to give opportunities to those who are on form (as demonstrated by Fabian Delph; Richards’ new Villa Park teammate).

It will be interesting to see where Sherwood decides to play him though. Whether Richards is a replacement for soon-to-be out-of-contract centre half Ron Vlaar, or Villa’s first choice right back remains to be seen.

There are options aplenty open to Sherwood in that latter berth; although the writing now appears to be on the wall for the out-of-favour Matt Lowton, Scotland international Alan Hutton and Dutch attacking outlet Leandro Bacuna are existing alternatives.

Such a signing, could well act as a catalyst for the club and it could prove to be the best tactic from Sherwood with regards to his summer transfer activity and player retention strategy.

With prolific striker Christian Benteke said to have clubs circling for his signature, including Coral pricing Liverpool at 11/8 to land him, Sherwood acting first to snap up Richards could be turn out to be wise.

Further, Benteke owes his manager for turning his season around, after he came in as boss midway through the campaign. With the Belgian bruiser struggling for goals, Sherwood reinvigorated the player and the net started to bulge again.

This is exactly the kind of impact the former Spurs interim boss can have on Richards. Instilling confidence is Sherwood’s forte. With a motivated Richards, Delph and Benteke, that provides the basis for a very strong spine and an encouraging season.

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Matt Haynes

A long-suffering Leeds fan, Matt studied Sports Journalism at university, and has a plethora of multi-industry experience. Having worked on behalf of multiple hedge funds and top-tier investment banks in executive search, he has also had a stint with the BBC and the Press Association. Outside of work, he pursues entrepreneurial activities and likes to keep fit.
Although he has interviewed current England manager Roy Hodgson as well as Rafa Benitez and a number of other names, he is honoured to have spent time in the company of Gordon Banks. Matt enjoys cultivating long-lasting professional and personal relationships, is solution orientated, and supports Coral’s sports content provision.