Jed Steer’s unlikely rise to prominence at Aston Villa
Background photo: Elliott Brown, CC BY 2.0
Jed Steer probably can’t believe he’s Aston Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper and has earned a contract extension, given how his situation was months ago. The 26-year-old was playing for League One side Charlton Athletic on loan up until the turn of the year, but a series of events would see Steer recalled before thrusting into Villa’s starting eleven.
Steer joined the Midlands outfit from Norwich City in 2013 and still hasn’t made 20 appearances in all competitions. Before the 2018/19 season started, he’d featured in only eight games for Villa in five years. The shot-stopper has already hit double-figures this season. He was behind Orjan Nyland, Ander Moreira and Mark Bunn in the pecking order but is now a regular and has been in sensational form.
Appeared to be finished at Villa Park
With Steer being loaned out to a League One side in August and his contract having just months remaining, it appeared he was finished at Villa Park. He’d never established himself as a first-choice in all his years at the club and wasn’t deemed to even be Championship-level, hence the drop down a division.
Everything changed after Nyland’s season-ending injury, however. With Matija Sarkic, Moreira and Bunn not trusted as backup goalkeepers, Steer returned early from his spell at the Valley as cover for new signing Lovre Kalinic. He was on the bench for a number of weeks until Kalinic suffered a concussion mid-game and was brought off for Steer.
The Englishman impressed and kept his place for Villa’s next game as Kalinic wasn’t deemed fit enough to start. Steer hasn’t looked back ever since, taking his chance with both hands to become a key player in their bid for promotion. He even saved a penalty in Saturday’s win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Dean Smith likely had no intention of making Steer his number one pick between the sticks, but performances have forced his hand and now has agreed a contract extension until 2020.
Who will be first-choice next season?
Next season, Villa will have Steer, Nyland and Kalinic battling it out for a starting place. The Midlands club will have three talented goalkeepers in the squad and therefore wouldn’t need to sign another one. Competition for places might be a problem, however.
All three stoppers have been first choice at different periods of the season – Nyland (August - December), Kalinic (January - February) and Steer (February - present) – so it’s unknown who will get the nod for 2019/20. Smith can’t keep all three players happy, so might he let one go?
Nyland has struggled for form in his debut campaign and perhaps has the most to prove to Smith. Kalinic lost his place due to injury but has underperformed with the Croatian national team. It would be ironic that the Villa outcast could be keeping two signings at bay next season.
Steer has made 11 Championship appearances, conceding eight goals (0.73 goals-per-game) and keeping four clean sheets (36%). He’s conceded one or less goals in each of his last eight consecutive league outings. Kalinic has conceded 12 goals in seven games (1.71 pg) and kept only one clean sheet (14%). Nyland has shipped 34 goals in 23 matches (1.48 pg) and has shut out six sides (26%).
Steer is clearly the best performer and should keep his place between the sticks as a result.