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‘Good work Mr. McLeish’ – These Villa fans were more than pleased with this long-term capture

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Aston Villa had just finished ninth in the Premier League and were on the lookout for a new manager ahead of the 2011/12 campaign.

To some fans’ dismay, Alex McLeish was appointed by chairman Randy Lerner to guide the cub even further forward.

Formerly a manager of Birmingham City, McLeish was under pressure to succeed from the off at Villa Park.

One of the first hurdles that the new boss had to overcome was that of the summer transfer window where his additions would be scrutinised intensely by the club’s supporters.

Three permanent signings were made that summer, and on August 31, 2011, the club had announced the arrival of their final long-term addition by revealing Alan Hutton had signed from Tottenham Hotspur.

The then 26-year-old signed a four-year deal with the club, reuniting the manager and player who had previously worked together at Rangers.

Fans were impressed with the signing of the defender and expressed their satisfaction on social media to the new man’s arrival.

After the move Hutton said Villa was the “only place” he wanted to go to, and his career started well before several close calls to his time at Villa Park being up.

His debut was made against Everton in a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park on September 10, 2011.

Known for his combative, no-nonsense style, there were flash-points throughout his time in the Midlands, picking up seven yellows and one red card during his first year with the club.

It was a disappointing first season with his new club as they finished 16th as McLeish was sacked.

Under Paul Lambert, Hutton was left out of a pre-season tour and found first-team opportunities hard to come by before a loan move to Championship side Nottingham Forest was confirmed in January 2013.

Nine matches were available to him as an emergency loan, and he played them all at right-back before his own was up.

After that loan spell, he moved to Spain on a temporary basis to Mallorca for the rest of the season. 

The La Liga side were relegated but the two parties expressed a desire to make the move permanent, and that would have been the case, had Mallorca been able to afford the Scotland international.

The following season, another short-term exit was confirmed after yet more lack of opportunities under Lambert.

Bolton was the club this time around for his third successive loan move which was initially for one month before it was extended to last the rest of the season.

With his Villa future looking bleak, Hutton could have been forgiven for thinking it was time for a move away.

But after various loan spells, he returned to Villa Park and made a surprise appearance in a friendly against Mansfield Town.

In the 2014/5 campaign, his career was resurrected, making 40 appearances for Villa as the club narrowly avoided relegation, cementing the revvial with a new three-year deal.

The following year, when the went down, he made 30 appearances and has been a surviving member of the side while in the Championship.

The much-maligned defender has played the majority of games with the side in the second tier but has not been given the credit he has deserved – until this season under Dean Smith.

He has made the 34-year-old an integral part of his side, and the fans have seen his influence and have been pleased with his contribution this season in what has been somewhat of a renaissance for the full-back – and they were right to be pleased. 

Despite some sections of the Villa support making Hutton a scapegoat, in recent months he has proven to be as resilient as they come, fighting for, and winning his place back and becoming an integral member of the first team over a number of years.

That goal against Birmingham in the Second City derby the other week was quintessentially Hutton – hard work, endeavour, industry and a positive outcome – just like his erratic career at Villa Park.

It was a welcome signing, and it has eventually tuned out to be what the Villa fans had initially hoped all those years ago.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

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