Aston Villa’s first season in the Championship didn’t quite go according to plan given the optimism generated from Roberto Di Matteo’s appointment last summer.
The Champions League-winning boss came in with the brief to try and rebuild a club that had just embarked on one of the worst Premier League campaigns seen in the history of the competition, but found himself out of the job just months later after a slow start to life at Villa Park.
And former Birmingham boss Steve Bruce took over the reins and led the club to 13th place last season, a fair reflection of a season which had highs and lows intertwined throughout.
Ultimately though, after an encouraging final few months of the season and with a full pre-season to come, expectations are growing that Bruce can be the man to lead the club back to the promised land, although serious reinforcements will likely be needed to achieve that target.
And one man they could look to bring to Villa Park, indeed bring back to the club, is Cardiff midfielder Peter Whittingham, who has been widely regarded throughout his career as one of the best players in the division.
The 32-year-old left Villa back in the January of 2007 and has been at the South Wales outfit ever since, although his contract expires at the end of the month, and as of yet no extension has been agreed.
And Bruce must seize his chance in bringing one of the best midfielders in the division to Villa Park this summer.
Throughout his time at Cardiff, Whittingham has netted 85 goals and laid on 78 assists in 381 Championship appearances, equating to a direct contribution every 186 minutes.
That may not be the greatest goal or assist to minute ratio, but over a decade-long stint, that’s a mightily good effort, and it’s an effort he continues to contribute to.
Whittingham scored seven goals and laid on eight assists for Neil Warnock’s side last term, netted six times with eight assists the campaign before, and bagged six goals and nine assists in the 2014/15 season.
That is a guaranteed 15 goals a season the 32-year-old contributes to, and when you consider that Villa scored the least of any side in the top 18 of the Championship last season, and fourth least overall, he’s a player that could make a huge difference in Bruce’s side.
And when you also consider their results over the course of the campaign, with 14 draws and half of their defeats coming by the odd goal, having a player like Whittingham, with a deadly set-piece prowess and incredible delivery from open-play, can only benefit the Villans.
Although at the age of 32, the Cardiff midfielder still has much to offer, as has been proven over recent seasons, and with expectations high at Villa Park ahead of next season, signing the best players in the Championship would surely be the way forward.
And Whittingham is certainly one of those.