Villa News & Record
*Age on opening day of the season
FAC: FA Cup; FL: Football League; D1: Division 1; D2: Division 2; D3: Division 3; PL: Premier League; CH: Championship
FULL SEASON BREAKDOWN
Ashley Roy Westwood
Sunday, 1 April 1990
Friday, 31 August 2012
2008-12 Crewe Alexandra |
2008 Nantwich Town (L) |
Tuesday, 31 January 2017
2017- Burnley, £5.22m |
Villa News & Record
Seasons Active, Fee, Starts (Sub) | Goals |
2012-17 £2.25m, 162 | 151 (11) | 5 |
Paul Lambert |
Tim Sherwood |
Rémi Garde |
Roberto Di Matteo |
Steve Bruce |
First Squad Appearance
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Swansea City (h), Premier League
Monday, 25 November 2013
Saturday, 21 January 2017
Preston North End (h), Championship
Final Squad Appearance
Saturday, 21 January 2017
2014-15 FA Cup Runners Up |
(5 ft 9 in) 1.75 m
Player #853 for Aston Villa, Ashley Roy Westwood played as a midfielder for the club in Villa’s 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 Premier League campaigns, with the latter ending in Villa’s first relegation from the top tier in nearly 30 years. Westwood also appeared during Villa’s Football League Championship campaign of 2016-17. Westwood made 162 appearances and scored 5 goals.
Westwood was born in Nantwich on 1 April 1990.
Paul Lambert had signed Westwood from Crewe Alexandra for £2,250,000 on 31 August 2012 and his arrival was in some contrast to many signings under Lambert’s bewildering regime, Westwood was not out of his depth with Villa but neither was he a transformational and impactful player in the mould of Christian Benteke. In truth, Westwood was a neat and tidy midfielder but a fatally weak one that allowed Villa to be frequently over-run in the middle of the park and which ultimately led to Villa’s relegation and subsequent troubles in their first season in the second tier.
In Westwood’s defence, on his day, and against compliant opposition, he could look and be as influential a midfielder as anyone in the previous half decade in a Villa shirt but those games, though welcome, were sporadic and increasingly in short supply as the quality of the squad around Westwood was materially weakened across successive campaigns.
Lambert handed Westwood his debut as a 70’ substitute for Stephen Ireland in the 2-0 Premier League win over Swansea City on Saturday, 15 September 2012 but wouldn’t make his first start for the club until Saturday, 3 November 2012 in the 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
That game proved a catalyst for an extended run of starts in the team under Lambert and Westwood went on to start 29 of Villa’s 34 games to the end of the season. During that spell Westwood contributed his first assist for Christian Benteke to hit an 80’ winner in Villa’s 1-0 win over Reading on Tuesday, 27 November 2012.
Westwood would contribute another assist in the following game for Brett Holman to open the scoring in Villa’s 1-1 draw at Queens Park Rangers but despite being a virtual ever present would not create another assist until Saturday, 2 February 2013 when teeing up Gabby Agbonlahor to hit Villa’s second in the 3-3 draw with Everton.
Once again there would be a nine game spell without an assist before Westwood hit on his most creative spell with Villa to date, creating 3 goals in two matches as Villa vanquished Sunderland 6-1 and beat Norwich City 2-1 on Monday, 29 April 2013 and Saturday, 4 May 2013 respectively.
In total in his first season, Westwood had contributed six assists in his 31 appearances for the club in what was a commendable start to his Villa career after making the step up from the lower leagues.
For 2013-14 Westwood was a virtual ever present for a Villa side toiling under Lambert, playing 37 games as Villa finished a lowly 15th for the second successive season and avoiding relegation for the second time mostly through the goalscoring contributions of Christian Benteke.
Across his 37 appearances, Westwood contributed just two assists as a more conservative approach began to infect his game and expose his weaknesses. Westwood did however hit his first goal for the club in Villa’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Monday, 25 November 2013. Westwood would hit a further two goals including a first minute strike against Hull City in the last home game of the season that secured Villa’s place in the Premier League for the following campaign.
In total in his second season, Westwood had scored 3 goals but contributed just two assists in his 37 appearances as his form and influence retracted from his debut season and his frailties became increasingly exposed.
Westwood began the 2014-15 campaign under Lambert as a virtual ever present once again, missing just 6 of Lambert’s final 28 games in charge due to injury, during which time Westwood contributed just a single assist to help Villa to a rare victory on Sunday, 7 December 2014. Villa however were in torrid form under Lambert, failing to win in 21 games and losing 14 before he was finally sacked in February 2015.
Lambert’s successor Tim Sherwood was initially more circumspect about using Westwood and the midfielder was confined to the substitutes bench for three of his first six games before Westwood missed a further three games through injury. On this return to fitness however, Sherwood would reintegrate Westwood into the first team and he was a starter for the final 7 games of the season helping Villa avoid certain relegation and reach the FA Cup Final.
Across his 34 appearances however Westwood had contributed a single assist, and failed to score as his performance levels and positive influence on the team continued to take a backward step - admittedly in a struggling side.
2015-16 saw interim manager Sherwood surprisingly kept in post and despite a major, though disjointed overhaul of the squad having taken place in the close season, Westwood was still given a prominent role in this most insipid of Villa squads.
Westwood played in all but one of Sherwood’s ten Premier League games in charge before his dismissal in October 2015 with Westwood’s sole assist coming on the opening day of the season as Rudy Gestede scored Villa in what would turn out to be a rare victory when they beat AFC Bournemouth away on Saturday, 8 August 2015.
With Sherwood gone his successor Rémi Garde initially, like Sherwood had done, confined Westwood to the substitutes bench however after four matches he was reinstalled in the starting line up and held that position to the end of Garde’s short 23 game reign. Across this most troubled of periods for Villa, Westwood failed to contribute an assist or score as Villa’s relegation to the second tier for the first time in nearly 30 years was all but guaranteed.
Ironically with Garde departed and caretaker manager Eric Black installed, Westwood scored his first goals of the season - a brace in the 2-4 defeat to Southampton on Saturday, 23 April 2016 which just happened to be the game following the confirmation of Villa’s relegation to the Football League Championship for 2016-17.
Westwood then contributed an assist in the following game for Ciaran Clark to score in Villa’s 2-3 defeat to Watford.
In total Westwood made 37 appearances creating a single assists in games that mattered and had to take a large amount of the culpability for Villa’s relegation as his conservative, safe and ultimately weak style had consistently allowed Villa’s midfield to be over-run throughout the season. Without the protection of Fabian Delph there was little hiding place for the physical weakness that Westwood displayed.
Somewhat surprisingly Westwood remained with the club for the 2016-17 Football League Championship and new Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo, became the seventh successive manager (including caretakers) to install Westwood as a permanent starting presence in the Villa line up. Di Matteo lasted just 12 games as Villa boss, winning just one Championship game with Westwood failing to score or contribute an assist despite being an ever present in the second tier.
Di Matteo’s successor Steve Bruce would be the first manager to use Westwood more sparingly and the player made just eight starts in seventeen matches as well as four substitute appearances before playing his final game for Villa on Saturday, 21 January 2017 aged 26. Across those 12 appearances, once again Westwood failed to score or create an assist.
With an expectation that Westwood would return to the lower tiers of English football to ply his trade, having contributed just 5 assists in the last four seasons, it was a real surprise when robust footballing side Burnley swooped for Westwood in January 2017 to take him back to the Premier League for a fee of £5,220,000 aged 26.
Westwood had played under Paul Lambert, Scott Marshall & Andy Marshall, Tim Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Rémi Garde, Eric Black, Roberto Di Matteo and Steve Bruce.
Westwood’s time with Villa was perhaps best summed up by his new boss at Burnley Sean Dyche “The big part of his game technically is that he is a really good passer of the ball, he deals with the ball and has a magnificent first touch. He had gone a little bit safe [at Villa].”
“When we got him he was playing a statistical game, just keeping the ball, keeping it moving. You have to open your mind and branch out, especially when you have his passing range.”
As Steve Bruce said on his departure “I think it was time for him [Westwood] to move on, he has been through the tough times at the club which weren’t easy. I felt it was right for everyone, I said that to him at the time and that I felt he needed a new challenge.”