He may have been signed by he-who-shall-not-be-named, but Brett Holman is so far proving to be the ideal poster boy for the Paul Lambert era of graft and craft.
Holman, of course, arrived in the summer after agreeing a pre-contract agreement with Lambert’s predecessor – and far from struggling to settle under the new manager, the all-action Aussie actually fits in perfectly.
Lambert prides his team on playing high intensity football, being confident enough to take opponents on and conscientious enough to win the ball back when forward forays go astray.
Holman, who honed his technique in the Dutch Eredivisie most recently with AZ Alkmaar and his tenacity with the Australian international side, epitomises this approach.
Such is the speed at which he plays the game, sometimes his touch can be lax and he can squander possession.
However, on those occasions he switches to a default setting which puts him in a relentless pursuit of the ball. It felt good when my wife and I walked into the club,” said Holman.
“Straight away there was a feeling that this is a nice place – the first impression we got was that Villa are a warm club. It could have gone pear-shaped for me when there was a change of manager, but I had a decent chat with the boss early on.
“He said ‘I don’t really know what kind of player you are. You’ve got a pre-season to show what you can do.’ I told myself to have a good crack at it and show why I’m here. Hopefully I’ve done that. Now I have to keep my head down and keep working hard and keep showing why I was signed.
“I’ve played a few games but I know I have to keep proving that I deserve to be in the first XI every week. I will do everything in my power to do that. Working hard on the pitch is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. That’s the way I am.
“I don’t want to come in after a game and be thinking that if I’d done more, maybe we would have got more out of the game. My attitude is not to have any regrets.”
Holman was named man-of-the-match after a brilliant performance in Villa’s only Premier League triumph so far this season, the 2-0 success against Swansea City at Villa Park last month, leaving the field to a standing ovation.