Carla Ward has added her newest recruit, Maz Pacheco to her ranks. Her Football Hub takes a closer look at Aston Villa and their summer signings so far.
Pachecho, still only 22 years old, started her WSL career with Liverpool aged just 16. She was also part of the England squad which achieved a bronze medal at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup. Whilst at Doncaster, she was an integral part of the team which won the WSL 2 title in 2017/18.
Villa Head Coach commented via the club’s website: “She’s someone we’ve monitored for a long time and I’m delighted to bring her in.”
Head coach Ward gets straight to work
Many are predicting Villa to do well this season having narrowly avoided relegation last season. Carla Ward is a very highly rated head coach who can make the most out of any given situation.
Ward narrowly missed out on promotion to the Women’s Super League with Sheffield United in 2019/20. The Blades lost out to Villa by six points to which they lost twice. However, if Ward’s team had won just one of those games they would have been Champions as they had a superior goal difference to Villa.
Ward was previously known for her style of “attack, attack, attack”. However, ever since bringing in Assistant Coach Alan Reeves, who has also joined Ward at Villa, her style of play is now far more defensively astute.
At Birmingham, Ward made some great signings, albeit some on loan, given her very limited budget. At Villa, she’s been handed a larger budget and has made some other fantastic signings so far…
Alisha LehmannEmbed from Getty Images
Alisha Lehmann spent three seasons with West Ham United including a short loan spell with Everton. The 22-year-old Swiss international can play in several forward positions.
Prior to moving to England, Lehmann started her career at BSC YB Frauen in the Swiss Women’s Super League. She has also represented her country over 25 times netting four times.
Lehmann’s strengths include her directness, pace and purpose. She likes to create chances for her teammates and can score a few goals herself. The former PFA Young Player of the Year nominee scored 10 goals in the WSL over the past three seasons.
Remi AllenEmbed from Getty Images
Remi Allen is a very experienced midfielder having previously played for Lincoln City, Birmingham City, Reading and Leicester City. She is a natural leader and her experience at the highest level will be invaluable with so many youngsters in the team.
Allen is a Champions League semi-finalist from her time at Birmingham City. The central midfielder also has international experience with the Lionesses U19s and U23s.
Allen is the type of player that likes to get stuck in, in the heart of midfield. Remi is not afraid of a good tackle and will work hard to win the ball back. The midfielder is known for her goals including the occasional spectacular overhead kick.
Sarah Mayling is an extremely versatile player who can play almost anywhere in the eleven. She’s played left-back, right-back, central midfield, attacking midfielder, left-wing and right-wing.
Mayling started her career for Villa aged eight and spent 11 years at the club before moving to Birmingham City in 2017. She played 85 games for the Blues and was voted Players’ Player of the Season and the Supporters Group Player of the Season.
Ward, having worked with Mayling at Blues last season, when asked her opinion which position she sees as being best for Sarah, gives the cliche reply of “wherever’s best for the team”.
The reality is Mayling can very easily adapt and change positions during a game. She sometimes starts as right back and then often gets further forward to provide crosses and assists. Mayling is also a set-piece specialist.
Hannah Hampton is a very talented goalkeeper who is still only 20 years old. Despite her young age she’s made over 60 appearances for Birmingham City achieving countless clean sheets.
Hampton is an accomplished keeper at international youth level having played several games for England U17s, U19s and the U21s. This year she was called up to the senior Lionesses squad but has yet to make her debut.
Several clubs showed interest in Hampton but she opted to put her trust in Villa and reunite with Ward. Villa currently have three keepers but Hampton is likely to be the regular number one.
Meaghan Sargeant is an accomplished centre-back having previously played for Lincoln City, Birmingham City, and Bristol City.
Sargeant suffered an ACL injury in January 2020 and her recovery meant she had limited chances last season. However, Ward has built a reputation for picking out quality players and Sargeant appears to fit the bill perfectly.
Meaghan was very impressive in her five seasons at Birmingham and can equally play centre-back as well as full-back. She was a key player for Blues in the side that respectively finished fifth and fourth in the WSL with several clean sheets.
Chantelle Boye-HlorkahEmbed from Getty Images
Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah is an attacking player having spent eight years at Everton. She was part of the Everton squad which won the WSL 2 Spring Series in 2017.
Boye-Hlorkah, also known as Chaney, has represented England U19s and U23s. She has a lot of pace and can play anywhere along the front line.
Aston Villa kick off their season at home to WSL newcomers Leicester City on September 4.