A Villans View Of Eric Lichaj
The release of Eric Lichaj came as a shock to most Aston Villa fans.
With concerns over depth at both right-back and left-back, retaining a player who could fulfil both roles for a meagre wage packet seemed a pretty obvious step to take this summer.
Instead, the U.S. international was freed to find a new club, and Nottingham Forest fans should be confident they've picked up a capable young player.
A natural right-sider, Lichaj's path to the first-team was blocked by the consistently excellent, supremely durable Matthew Lowton. But concerns over Joe Bennett's ability at the top level, along with Nathan Baker's preference for a central berth, allowed him to slide in on the left for a total of seven starts and about as many substitute appearances too.
Offensively he's limited: Unsure steaming forward and largely reluctant once entering the final third, Lichaj is unlikely to be a major threat driving into opposition territory. But defensively he is sound, tracks his man very well and times his challenges perfectly. Rarely does he get sucked in and exposed, and his former weakness of being one-footed has seemingly disappeared.
His biggest weapon is his long throw. Villa fans rarely saw it given the sporadic nature of his appearances, but it's not too far short of Rory Delap-esque distance when in full swing.
Lichaj is no world-beater, but he's a reliable young full-back who can cover both sides. He pocketed Eden Hazard at Villa Park for 96 minutes, while he also nullified Glen Johnson at Anfield. He had his bad moments last season—who in a Villa shirt didn't?—and he's not a Premier League calibre player right now. Championship is a level he can succeed at, though, and Nottingham Forest is a great place for him to prove he's up to the challenge.
He has no character concerns, works hard for the team and never strops about. It's a very low-risk free transfer for Billy Davies.
Many thanks to Sam Tighe for writing the article. You can follow Sam on twitter by clicking @stighefootball.