Villa the Busiest and Best Team in the Transfer Window?

February 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

There are so many ways to look at the recent ridiculous dealings in the transfer window it is hard to decide on who comes out best but surely Villa, having been the busiest team with 4 incomings and 4 outgoings, are up there. In January Gerard Houllier managed to sign a young right-back, already being tipped for a senior England call-up, two vastly experienced international midfielders with age still on their side, and one of the league’s most proven goalscorers of the last decade. Well done Gerard! The potential £24m price tag for Darren Bent seemed a little ludicrous but in the context of what went on yesterday we could get done for robbery! Jean Makoun was cheaper than first thought it seems with Gerard Houllier stating that he folked out just £5m for the Cameroonian. Michael Bradley joined on loan yesterday and is highly rated in his native America having played 50 senior international caps at just 23. He joined on loan along with Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker, whose first 3 games have given much encouragement to the Villa fans, not least due to a fantastic solo effort on his debut. Add to these signings the significant wage bill slashing due to departures of the out-of-favour Carew, Sidwell, Davies and Ireland and Gerard Houllier will be sitting far prettier on his Villa perch! So how do you rate Villa’s transfer dealings this summer against our Premier League rivals? Has Houllier turned you round? To read my full round-up of why Villa can consider themselves well-off this February click here

Fulham Look to Trump Sidwell Suitors

January 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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After a deal fell through in the summer to take Steve Sidwell to Craven Cottage, it seems that Mark Hughes has renewed his interest in a last gasp attempt to boycott potential moves from both West Ham and Wolves. This mini transfer saga has been somewhat confusing with West Ham supposedly hijacking Wolves signing of the midfielder last month after Fulham’s bid in the summer. Mick McCarthy was reportedly having none of it and was believed to have come close to agreeing a deal to re-hijack the Hammers deal. It now appears that original favourites for the centre midfielder’s signature Fulham, have now climbed back to the top of the pack. Why such Sidwell has been centre of such a scrap is beyond me considering his 45k a week wages but with his contract running out in the summer, a fee of as little as 250k has been touted to attract many of Villa’s current relegation rivals. Sidwell was thought to favour a move back to London where he lives despite playing in Birmingham but after Wolves had apparently twisted his arm to stay in the Midlands who knows? Who do you think he’ll join and do you think it’s right to let him go to a positional rival whilst in such a precarious position?

Sidwell’s Hammers Move Hijacked

January 5, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Steve Sidwell’s proposed switch to West Ham is in doubt after progress seems to have stalled over the players wage demands. The midfielder is a high earner at Villa Park despite never breaking into the first team for a sustained period. It was believed that terms were all but a formality after the 28-year-old passed a medical at Upton Park last week. The Hammers had apparently won the race to Sidwell’s signature due to the fact that he lives in London already. Wolves were also thought to have had a bid accepted and Mick McCarthy appeared to begrudgingly admit defeat to Avram Grant’s side. However, the move which was expected to be completed earlier in the week has come to a stand still and Villa’s Midlands rivals Wolves and West Brom are both keen to renew their interest and steal the former Chelsea man’s signing from under the nose of Grant and West Ham

Sidwell Set For Fairwell

December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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Steve Sidwell looks to be on his way out of the club after it was confirmed that he is in advanced talks regarding a move to West Ham in January.The 28-year-old midfielder has never really settled at Villa and after failing to establish a first team place under Martin O’Neill, injury has prevented him from trying to impress new manager Gerard Houllier. Sidwell, currently sidelined with an Achilles injury, may well have played his last game for the club as a recovery from injury should come just in time for a transfer window switch to bottom of the league West Ham. His contract expires this summer which means that any sort of 7 figure sum will probably do from Villa’s point of view. In 70 appearances from the club in all competitions, Sidwell has netted 4 goals along with one own-goal whilst at Villa. The midfielder has played 45 times in the Premier League for Villa although only 24 of these have been starts, with just one so far this season. Rumours suggest he may make way for Joey Barton but either way we wish him the best of luck in a tenure that never took off although he never really disappointed.

Villa to Fight Liverpool for Attacking Midfield Prospect

December 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Aston Villa are the latest side to be linked to an admiration for Swiss starlet, Valentin Stocker. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder plays for top Switzerland outfit Basel and has attracted interest from a host of club’s with impressive performances at club and international level despite his young age. Stocker has made 7 appearances already for his national side, netting an impressive 3 goals. His club record isn’t much worse having scored 8 times from 28 games in all competitions from midfield, almost 1 in 3. Add to this a total of 6 assists in 15 league appearances and you could be forgiven for getting a little excited. The 21-year-old broke into the first team set up at Basel when he was just 18 scoring 3 times in 11 games in his first season. 12 goals in 31 games last year in the league, accompanied by 10 assists, shot the Swiss midfielder into the limelight. Liverpool have reportedly shown an interest but Houllier will be keen to bolster his midfield after injuries to the returning Nigel Reo-Coker, Stiliyan Petrov and Steve Sidwell. Exciting link this one having researched the lad!

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Match Preview

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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Monday 6th December 2010

Opponent: Liverpool

Venue: Anfield

Kick Off: 20:00

Gerard Houllier will make an emotional return to Liverpool in Monday night as he takes his Villa side to Anfield in desperate search of a win. The Frenchman will no doubt have had his eye on this fixture since moving to Villa and his ties with the club are just one of a number of potential reunions. Houllier’s No.2 Gary McAllister was brought to the club by the manager is a playing capacity and in a short stint with the club the Scotsman became a cult hero. Among the playing staff to have plied their trade in Merseyside include Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock and Emile Heskey, though the striker is unlikely to feature through injury. Extended Match Preview

Villa Injury Update Ahead of Liverpool Trip

December 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Injury News 

Barry Bannan is the latest player to join the Villa Park injury list. The young midfielder limped off in the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham in midweek with a groin injury and is unlikely to recover in time for the trip to Anfield on Monday night. Gerard Houllier was erring on the side of caution as he didn’t want to aggravate the problem which would only deplete his squad further. Speaking in a press conference on Friday, Houllier stated:

“I don’t think Barry will be able to play. I’ve got my doubts because it is a groin strain which he picked up against Birmingham.”

Positive News on the Long-Term Injury Front

Aston Villa Performances Overshadowed by Dismal Results

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Reports 

After a day to grieve over what was really a hit and run from the Blues on Wednesday I have had time to reflect and collect my thoughts! It seems at the moment that Aston Villa cannot buy a win and if you can find me a manager whose new job has started with worse luck then Gerard Houllier I’m all ears. A dominant and much improved performance from the forgettable 0-0 draw at Villa Park last month still saw Villa knocked out of the League Cup. A Semi-final with West Ham awaited which almost had me sobbing into my lonely corner of shame as Villa looked to build on their Final appearance last season. Without sounding too much like a broken record, Villa couldn’t really have been missing many more players once again against the Blues though a goal-scoring return did give us fans something to cheer. Still, poor defending in the first half and a lack of cutting edge meant that all Villa’s possession and passing football came to nothing in a 2-1 defeat at St Andrews.

Extended Match Report and Ratings

Aston Villa Face Blues in Must Win Quarter Final: Match Preview

November 29, 2010 by · 2 Comments
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Villa travel the short journey to St. Andrews in what is a massive League Cup Quarter Final draw with fierce rivals Birmingham City. The two sides met last month, producing probably the dullest derby in decades and a strong contender for worst Premier League game of the season. Villa were riddled with injuries and remain severely depleted as they look to turn around a poor run of results. A spirited comeback against Arsenal on Saturday was all in vain due to a dire first half display but did encourage some fans ahead of the nail biting clash on Wednesday. Houllier’s side have won just 1 in 9 in the league though they qualified for this stage of the cup with a tense 2-1 extra-time win over Championship Burnley. Birmingham reached the Quarter Finals at the expense of League One Brentford who pushed the Blues all the way but were beaten in a penalty shoot-out. Read more

10 Games in: Gerard Houllier’s Record and Review

Many neutrals and Villa fans had their doubts over the appointment of Gerard Houllier 2 months ago but how has he really done in his opening 10 games at the club. The pessimistic may have seen the choice of the Frenchman as somewhat of a sideways step after his tenure at Liverpool was left on a low point with the Anfield club. Despite this, Houllier had a terrifically successful spell at the club leading them to Community Shield, UEFA, FA, League Cup (x2) and Supercup glory, a feat which has surpassed any of his successors at Liverpool. After health issues seemed to stunt his progress with the club, many in the Merseyside remember Houllier as a negative and uninspired tactician as he looks to answer the critics who doubted him. Villa have had a stop-start season to say the least and some impressive performances and results have been overlooked due to the sides current inability to close out games. Here is why I believe the new manager has done a decent job in his opening 10 fixtures and why Villa should not be counted out of a European finish. In-depth Managerial Review

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