Filed under: Aston Villa, Hot topic debates, Transfer News, Villa Manager
So its transfer deadline day and it’s a hectic time, on the phone all day looking for new last ditch signings, bargain and loans isn’t it? Well no. Not at Villa anyway. The current managerial vacancy means no dealings this window other than the part exchange for Milner and Ireland. I’m trying to stay positive after a good win against Everton but it doesn’t help seeing the Blues making signings left, right and centre, most notably Aleksandr Hleb who Villa have been linked with on numerous occasions even prior to his Arsenal spell. So nothing to report and nothing to expect on the transfer front as the manager’s situation still overshadows any hopes of a team building exercise over the international break.
One positive note is at least there are no new boys, bigger boys or bullies coming in so squad harmony should be relatively high after the weekend. Just Ashley Young in action for England on Friday which should see Gabby Agbonlahor get a lengthy rest to recover from injuries. Warnock misses out once more due to the so called revolution of the England side with Kieran Gibbs getting the nod as Cole’s understudy.Young will face club captain Stiliyan Petrov if selected and the midfield workhorse is wary of a lashback from the Three Lions despite a depleted squad.
“We know how strong England are. They had a disappointing World Cup, but now they are going to show the fans that is all behind them, they will try to win the game because of that feeling.”
So, back to the usual business of discussing the next manager at the club. Interestingly this Monday saw Everton boss, David Moyes’ odds slashed quite drastically making him favourite with many bookies which will encourage many Villains. The Scotsman has scooped Manager of the Year awards along with his rave reviews at the club since arriving in 2002 and has impressed in all departments including his ability to pull in some big names for low prices (See Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill, Baines and the rest). The slightly scarily intense 47 year old certainly fits the boards criteria with his extensive Premier League experience despite still being somewhat of a whippersnapper in managerial circles.
USA coach Bob Bradley has now committed his future to the American dream so is out of the running although caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald is still in with a chance. The club statement from Paul Faulkner seemed to effectively rule KMac out but the current man in charge finally made his interest in the job known to chairman Randy Lerner and is still sitting pretty as one of the favourites for the job after an impressive victory against Everton. It is now thought by many that the two Scotsman who met in battle on Sunday are now to duel over the post at Villa Park despite the fact that Moyes ruled himself out just a few weeks back.
Still lurking in the bushes waiting to pounce on the opportunity is dirty dog Sven Goran-Eriksson along with the likes of Alan Curbishley and Phil Brown but there’s no doubt that most Villa fans would see Moyes as a major coup. Let me know what you think about the rumours and the lack of activity at the club and I’ll be sure to write about the new signings that won’t happen later on!
Filed under: Aston Villa, Hot topic debates, Transfer News, Villa Manager
If you had asked most Villa fans of their opinions on the rest of the season after Thursday night the responses may have been bleak but a new day brings new optimism into the supposed club in crisis. With the most brash of pessimists writing Villa’s European hopes off already by Friday just two days later the club find themselves sitting pretty in fourth. A gutsy 1-0 victory over an impressive Everton side was relieving not only due to the result but in the manner of the win. The reliable defence of last term hadn’t seemed to have returned from their holiday’s but were magnificent today under pressure in a game where they soaked up more than a sponge in a wet t-shirt competition.
The reunion of Dunne and Collins at centre back was a vast improvement with match winner Luke Young impressing at right back. Many will say that the result was not deserved but a battling performance was just what the doctor ordered and showed that Villa are no pushover’s. Although the result only takes off some of the humiliation of the midweek defeat it offers a much brighter outlook to the fans and chairman Randy Lerner. Will this win spark a mini revival or was it a fortuitous result that is unlikely to reoccur?
Over the last couple of days the manager’s position has been a massive talking point with MacDonald maintaining that he would make a decision on his availability after today’s game. Dutchman Ronald Koeman also threw his name into the mix with some clear intentions of hoping to fill the vacancy.
“In Holland we have always viewed Villa as an important club with a tradition of being powerful in Europe when I was younger, so I would be very interested in managing them if the job was offered to me.”
He revealed that he has had a number of offers but sees Villa Park as an extremely desirable destination after an impressive club record in Spain, Portugal and his native Holland. This interest though, appears to have been quashed this evening after the club finally released an interesting statement regarding their preferred candidate.
“Two of the traits we believe are of crucial importance are that candidates have experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad.”
These revelations all but rule out the current man in charge along with Koeman and long running favourite for the job Bob Bradley. The shortlist appears to have been cut down further with candidates such as Jurgen Klinsmann and Otmar Hitzfeld not having the required Premier League experience that the board room are looking for. Does this mean that the candidates have been whittled down to the likes of Guus Hiddink (yes please), Sven Goran-Eriksson (no thanks) and Alan Curbishley (we’ll think about it)? Martin Jol would be a popular choice but has the statement opened the door to more unwelcome unemployed than before? The likes of Houllier, Southgate and Phil Brown are now in the mix but would this signify a step in the wrong direction for the club?
Also in the news this week was a very unnerving increase in interest in Ashley Young from Tottenham. Would selling the player be a huge mistake and a massive omen of what’s to come or does every player have his price? Congratulations goes out to Ashley on another well deserved England call up. In better news Gabby Agbonlahor was quoted saying that he would have no reason to leave the club for his entire career as he hopes to emulate the likes of Steven Gerrard as a one club man. At just 24 the striker is now Villa’s longest serving player and hopes to keep it that way so good on you Gabby! Views on today’s game, the manager’s position or anything else are wanted at the end of a day that has Villains smiling once again.
Up The Villa!
Sunday 29th August 2010
Aston Villa 1 – 0 Everton
A much needed win doesn’t exactly cover it in terms of today’s result which has seen a rapid turnaround in fortunes since, well, Rapid. An assured defensive display for the most part was something that I indicated was essential in my preview and that’s exactly what was delivered. This was a battling victory which was relieving to see as the game was largely dominated by Everton in terms of ball control. Nevertheless Villa got their goal through Luke Young and held on to an invaluable 3 points.
The home side recalled the rested Steward Downing, Stephen Warnock and Richard Dunne and the understanding within the team was a vast improvement. Emile Heskey missed out despite a gutsy performance in midweek and Gabby Agbonlahor was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench leaving John Carew supported by Ashley Young playing in a central role once more. There were also starts for Marc Albrighton, Luke Young and Nigel Reo-Coker replacing Stephen Ireland, who pulled up in the warm up, and Carlos Cuellar.
An open start to the game was edged by the visitors until a mistake by ‘Afroman’ Marouane Fellaini allowed Luke Young’s ball down the line to reach John Carew who headed into the path of Ashley Young. The right back had carried on his run and Luke Young was picked out with an inch perfect pass from his name sake to guide the ball beautifully into the top corner with his left foot.
It was at this stage that the game seriously swung in Everton’s favour and they almost leveled moments later. After neat build up down the left found Steven Pienaar who’s spectacular effort beat Friedel all ends up before rattling the crossbar. The visitor’s dominance rose to a high of 85% possession but they failed to create any clear cut chances due to resolute defending from the Villa back four. Friedel had little other than a routine save from an Arteta free kick to deal with in the first half and by the end of the period Villa were more competitive and nearly won a penalty through youngster Marc Albrighton.
The second 45 started brightly and the game opened up with Villa coming into it more on the break. Carew had a headed chance before a lone run from Ashley Young resulted in a shot from 20 yards which was dragged wide. Everton again looked decent following the arrival of Louis Saha for the ineffective Beckford but it was the home side once more who almost capitalised on the break. The quiet John Carew powered past Distin forcing a save from Tim Howard which rebounded to the feet of Young. He then saw his shot from 6 yards blocked by Jagielka and just kept out by the American stopper.
American counterpart Brad Friedel was being called upon more heavily at the other end producing a smart stop from a Saha volley and watching a Jack Rodwell flick travel agonizingly past the post. Agbonlahor then replaced an uncomfortable John Carew before Marc Albrighton should have put the game beyond doubt. Ashley Young’s effort was saved by Howard and came to the winger on the half volley. With more time than he realised the youngster showed a slight lack of composure slicing his first time effort way off target.
With 10 minutes remaining Everton threw everything at Villa and Jagielka missed a headed chance from a corner before a fairly confusing 5 minutes of added time were indicated. Saha had the last chance of the game bringing a smart stop from Friedel from range but Villa hung on and my how they had to. A massive improvement in the defensive department lead to this victory and Luke Young who was somewhat unlucky last season with MON’s selections picked up a deserved man of the match award.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Friedel – 7 – reliable, little to do first period but a string of impressive stops in the second
Luke Young – 8 – best on show, superb finish and threw his body on the line all game
Richard Dunne – 6 – improving, glimpses of his best form after a slow start to the season and the match
James Collins – 7 – strong, fairly comfortable game but what he did, he did well
Stephen Warnock – 6 – comfortable, not too much threat to deal with but reliable as ever
Marc Albrighton – 6 – decent, some positive runs but showed naivety defensively and should have scored
Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – tireless, frustrated at times but a good captain’s shift
Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – assured, did well in circumstances of late call up
Stewart Downing – 5 – quiet, little involvement and some sub par deliveries
Ashley Young – 7 – lively, worked his socks off and created chances including a superb assist
John Carew – 5 – laboured, struggled on his own, yet to impress this season
Gabby Agbonlahor – 5 – little time and had to do more defending than attacking
Sunday 29th August 2010
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 16:00
At the end of a very bad week for Aston Villa a match up against Everton may not be ideal to remedy the pain caused by Newcastle and Vienna. The home sides record against the Toffee’s makes for interesting reading having not lost in their last 8 encounters of the most played fixture in English football.
Boosts for the Villain’s include the likely return of Stewart Downing, Stephen Warnock and Richard Dunne after they were rested in midweek. John Carew is looking to return from a knee injury with fellow strike partner Gabby Agbonlahor also hoping to be fit after coming off against Vienna with a calf problem. It is likely that the unimpressive Curtis Davies and Habib Beye will make way but Heskey should keep his place after a decent performance in Europe.
Everton have no real injury worries with captain Phil Neville and Joseph Yobo the only real doubts for the game. The visitors will no doubt be looking to profit from a disastrous Villa spell and are hoping for the first win of the campaign. Failure to do so would result in the worst league start for 10 years though Moyes’ side have lost just once in their last 13 games.
Villa new boy Stephen Ireland will be looking to build on a decent performance on Thursday in his home league debut and should cause Everton problems. An undoubtedly strong midfield for the opponent’s will look to exploit a shaky Villa defence with advanced playmakers such as Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar. The main threat for Villa may be an aerial one as they have struggled with crosses recently and the imposing danger of Tim Cahill who has 4 in his last 4 against the Villa will need to be dealt with.
Overall a defensive master class is needed and a clean sheet would be a godsend for Kevin MacDonald. This, backed up by a goalscoring start to the league campaign for Gabby Agbonlahor would certainly turn Villa frowns upside down with the possibility of moving into the top 6 with a win. 3 points would definitely quash any thoughts of a crisis at the club though a draw may not be a terrible outcome.
Possible Starting XI: Brad Friedel; Luke Young, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Stephen Warnock; Ashley Young, Stiliyan Petrov, Stephen Ireland, Stewart Downing; Emile Heskey, Gabby Agbonlhaor
Martin’s predicted scoreline: 2-2
It seems relaunching this site has cursed Villa to some extent. A 6-0 crushing defeat to Newcastle being followed up by an unceremonious dumping out of the Europa Cup at the hands of an old enemy. Villa lost 3-2 at home to Rapid Vienna who have knocked us out at the same stage in consecutive seasons. The tie ended 4-3 on aggregate against a side who we should be beating comfortably. Please see the full round up on the Match Report page of the site. Although it is early days it appears that one of last season strongest defence’s would now struggle in a junior Sunday football league. Conceding 9 in two games against inferior opposition does not exactly instill confidence for the rest of the season.
Will Kevin MacDonald call time on his short reign thus far at Villa Park and more to the point should he? It is clear that the player’s would like to know who will be leading them into the new campaign and the uncertainty appears to be affecting them. Mistakes were made tactically in the game resting players who, after a full pre-season and just 3 games under their belts, should not need resting. I feel the outcome would have been different had Warnock started in place of Beye who was at fault for 2 of the 3 goals. Curtis Davies was poor once more and should do his talking on the pitch rather than moaning to the media about not being played because frankly Curtis, if you’re going to play like that every week you’re better off in the reserves.
Stephen Ireland looked in good shape but may be wondering what he’s gotten himself into since joining the club and the likes of Heskey and Albrighton also put in good shifts. It was in the defensive third where we looked dismal and when the ball is delivered into the box at the moment we appear to be giving away free gifts to opposing sides who are more than happy to accept. Are some players surplus to requirements at the club and who do you think should be bought in?
In other news youngster Harry Forrester will be hoping to gain some invaluable first team experience at a decent level after agreeing to join SPL side Kilmarnock on loan. The 19 year old forward who was signed from Watford has impressed in the reserves and we wish him all the best for the season and look forward to him coming back bigger and better.
Who do you think should be the next manager? Where is it going wrong on the pitch at the moment? I want to know your opinions or if you just want to have a good moan about the club that’s fine by me. The site is now fully up and running and updated so keep checking for updates and surely things can only get better? Or maybe worse?
Thursday 26th August 2010
Aston Villa 2 – 3 Rapid Vienna (Rapid Vienna win 4-3 on aggregate)
The nightmare returned to Villa Park tonight as the Villains crashed out once more to Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna. It was exactly one year ago that Vienna came to the Midlands and managed a 2-1 defeat which saw them through on away goals. A case of lessons not being learned may have eventually lead to the home sides downfall once more and a feeling of de ja vu was not what the doctored ordered for Villa. Another penalty miss cost us dear and spurned opportunities at one end were only bettered, or worsened in this case, by woeful defending at the other.
Villa set up with a strong line up with recalls for fit again James Collins, Carlos Cuellar and perhaps not so fit again Gabby Agbonlahor. Brad Guzan kept his place in goal from the first leg though ever presents thus far, Stephen Warnock and Stewart Downing were rested alongside Richard Dunne.
Villa were unable to maintain a 2-1 lead in the game and could have been helped by a more convincing scoreline in the first leg to ease the same nerves that were present last time. MacDonald decided to field a weakened team in the first leg which was something that MON had done the season before and was punished for and, although the team that started should have managed to see off Vienna, some questions must be asked of the caretaker boss.
The game started well for Villa with a chance falling to Gabby Agbonlahor after just a minutes action. The pacey striker could only find the keeper’s gloves however with a left footed strike after a neat through ball from Ashley Young. Young was impressive throughout the first period and after a lovely ball from Petrov he delivered a teasing low cross that was this time converted by Agbonlahor. The signs were good for the home side who looked comfortable and new signing Stephen Ireland began to settle into the game and pull the strings for Villa.
A real blow occurred when Agbonlahor, who had been bright, pulled up with what appeared to be a calf strain and was replaced by Marc Albrighton in the 38th minute. The young winger played admirably once more upon his arrival into the game and engineered a chance for himself early in the second half which he dragged wide. Dismal defending from makeshift left back Habib Beye began what proved to be a defensive collapse. After dallying on the ball the full back failed to clear his lines before being dispossessed and the resulting cross was headed home well by Atdhe Nuhiu.
Ashley Young was then bought down in the box after a clear foul by Marcus Katzer but the referee overlooked the penalty claims. Moments later the home side were awarded a somewhat more dubious penalty for a supposed tug on Emile Heskey. Captain Stiliyan Petrov stepped up but his effort was tame and easily saved to the goalkeeper’s right before Heskey’s reputation preceded him missing the follow up when it was easier to score.
Villa did then make the breakthrough after a flicked effort by Petrov was saved and the ball was shipped back out to Ashley Young. The wideman delivered and the ball was half cleared to Habib Beye on the edge of the box who’s volley was turned in via the midriff of Heskey, his first goal since February. The travellers hit back immediately and went ahead on away goals after a confusing clearance by the shaky Curtis Davies went behind for a corner. The resulting corner lead to a flick off a Villa head finding Mario Sonnleitner who’s header just crept over the line after Guzan got a hand to it. The American stopper would have hoped for more as his feet slipped from beneath him and he failed to get a strong enough hand to the shot.
More poor defending by Habib Beye saw the visitors claim a breakaway third goal to kill off the match. The Senegalese international gave the ball away on the halfway line and was exposed out of position when substitute Christopher Trimmel picked out fellow bench warmer Rene Gartler to tap home. The striker was left free at the back post by Cuellar due to poor full back play, reinforcing the fact that the Spaniard is a centre half and should be employed in that position. Despite Villa’s best efforts, replacing Reo-Coker with Delfouneso and throwing James Collins up front, they could not conjure another goal and the sinking feeling returned to the Villa faithful.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Guzan – 5 – unconvincing, should have done better with the 2nd Vienna goal
Carlos Cuellar – 5 – rusty, struggled for pace against winger and caught napping at the back post
James Collins – 6 – strong, good dominance and an attacking aerial threat
Curtis Davies – 5 – poor, obvious that he is not up to match fitness after months without playing
Habib Beye – 4 – dismal, at fault for 2 goals and nervous out of position
Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – average, assured in possession but could have scored
Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – industrious, good ball retention but awful penalty
Stephen Ireland – 7 – promising, controlled and looked comfortable after slow start
Ashley Young – 6 – faded, superb start and assist but faded and became agitated, some poor crosses
Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – injured, good until replaced with neat if simple finish
Emile Heskey – 7 – tireless, great work rate and link up from the big man who deserved his goal
Marc Albrighton – 7 – lively, ran at the defence and caused problems with decent delivery
Nathan Delfouneso – 5 – no time to impress, should have been used earlier
Thursday 26th August 2010
Opponent: Rapid Vienna
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 19:45
Thursday night sees the home leg of Villa’s Europa Cup Qualifying tie against Austrian unit Rapid Vienna. After a decent, if unimpressive result in Vienna left the tie in the balance at 1-1 Villa will be looking to exact revenge on the side that knocked them out of the competition at this very stage last season. A depressing night almost exactly one year ago saw Villa crash out on away goals after only managing a 2-1 home victory in response to Rapid’s 1-0 aggregate advantage. The season could have been so different if Ashley Young had not missed a penalty to send the Villains through and the same player may well be the key to victory this time around. The departure from the competition may well have benefited us in the long term with two much needed domestic cup runs and a Carling Cup robbery by Manchester United and more specifically Phil Dowd but we’re not bitter.
The first leg saw caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald field a very youthful starting XI and it seemed to be working early on in the game. An impressive run and delivery from Marc Albrighton was converted by Barry Bannan for his first senior goal. However after that high point we struggled especially from high balls into the box and looked shaky with an unfamiliar back four. The inevitable reply from the home side came from an inevitable source after a cross from Rapid star man and captain Steffan Hofmann was glanced in by target man Nuhiu.
Hofmann will no doubt be the man to target in this game and stopping his impressive deliveries into the box will be imperative. A much changed side is expected after a dismal display against Newcastle though many first team regulars are expected to return from the first leg. Brad Guzan may still be preferred in goal although it is likely that Friedel will come in and a much stronger back four will be required as a clean sheet would ensure progression to the group stages. Richard Dunne will need to improve after a far from inspiring display against the Toon and last season’s regular partner at the back James Collins may be in line for a return. Carlos Cuellar is also back in contention after recovering from injury and will look to push Luke Young for a starting berth.
In midfield new signing Stephen Ireland is available and wingman Ashley Young is expected to start. Young could be crucial to success as the Vienna back line also looked far from solid in the last game and MacDonald will be looking for him to cause the sort of trouble’s that Marc Albrighton was able to cause early on last time out. The aforementioned Albrighton may be given a rest after starting all of Villa’s opening 3 games so far and captain Stiliyan Petrov should also come in.
Up front the goalscoring return of Gabby Agbonlahor in a 45 minute spell in a friendly this week see’s him back in contention and Carew and Heskey are also fit and available. Pace may be preferred as Vienna’s ageing centre backs were caught out on occasion by Emile Heskey in Vienna. I predict that despite losing 6-0 at the weekend, MacDonald will stick to a familiar set up and as long as we can get at the defence, progression to the next round should not be an issue. A clean sheet would mean that we would not even need to score but an early goal would really help settle the nerves and a much improved defensive display will be required. Two known absentees are Stewart Downing and Stephen Warnock who will be rested after starting all of Villa’s games thus far.
Martin’s predicted starting XI: Brad Guzan; Habib Beye, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Luke Young; Ashley Young, Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stephen Ireland; Gabby Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey
Martin’s predicted result: A comfortable 2-0 win for the Villa
A new era at Villa means a newly revitalized blog
Hello my dear Villains, my name is Martin and I have been handed the task of reviving this blog as the club beckons in a new dawn, post MON. I will be looking for moaners, groaners and gloaters to spark some serious and occasionally not so serious discussions, debates and banter all in the name of our beloved Aston Villa. This voyage will not work without you. The one who’s blood runs claret and blue!
I will be blogging regularly about the entire goings on at the club, be it the ups or downs, starting on the day of a 6-0 defeat to Newcastle may suggest that this is a down, but it doesn’t have to be! I want to know what you think about everything that’s happening at Villa Park. Your opinions are wanted and we’re all in this together guys so let’s keep it friendly, this is a safe place! Be you an optimist or a pessimist we want to hear from you. Think of this as your Villa haven. A place you can let all your praise or worries be known.
I look forward to gaining some loyal Villains to support our quest, Premier League 2010/11!