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 Villa’s Best XI of the Premier League Era?

Aston Villa Blog’s Ollie Scrimgeour details his Villa dream team of the Premier League era as a young Villan, with some fantastic names included.

The true Theory of Relativity

I’ve always been fascinated, along with many football fans, by the question of whether clubs or players of today can be compared with those of past generations. It’s interesting not least because there is a never-ending debate, with people suggesting that Maradona was better than Messi, or that Barcelona of 2009 would have beaten Ajax of 1973.

For now, I will settle on the conclusion that we will never truly know, and that we should appreciate the football, of now and before. After all, in football it is all about adapting to the current time, atmosphere and climate in which the sport finds itself. To a large extent, the question as to which side or player is best depends on who is answering the question. For example, I would place Barcelona currently as the best club side ever, because in my lifetime, I’ve not seen a better one. Additionally, my all-time best XI would differ to my Grandfather’s, who often talks fondly about the ‘Busby Babes’ and how wonderful George Best during his time on the pitch. I’ve researched all of these teams and players, and indeed, I’ve been intrigued. However, it’s all about relativity with football and it’s those that I’ve seen play who affect me the most. It’s why we love football so much – there are different answers for everything, and different meanings for everybody.

This raised another question in my mind, particularly as I was pondering Alex McLeish’s team selection for the first home game of the season against Blackburn – what would my all-time Villa XI be?

Before I unveil which players I have chosen as part of my all-time Villa XI, I need to establish that this encompasses the period from when I can first remember watching our great team, until now. I was born in 1992 (I’ve only been around for the Premier League era!), so I don’t have that long to work with – but I’ll give it a go. In fact, the reason I’m writing this is because I am in fact more interested in who you, the more experienced Villa fans, would put in your team. Here goes (and please resist the desire to do me physical harm when you see I haven’t included Paul McGrath) :

GK – Brad Friedel

RB – Olof Mellberg (c)

LB – Steve Staunton

CB – Martin Laursen

CB – Ugo Ehiogu

RM – Benito Carbone

LM –  Ashley Young

CM – Gareth Barry

CM – Ian Taylor

ST – Dion Dublin

ST – Dwight Yorke

So there you have it. I’ve gone for the conventional 4-4-2 being as I’m hardly imaginative enough to come up with a decent bank signature, let alone an intricate formation. This is the Aston Villa all-star XI, relative to me, and my experiences as a Villa fan. What a marvelous 19 years it’s been.

The Theory of Reality

After that little period of trying my hand as Einstein, minus the physics, I think we’re all ready to return to the actual scenario – the players we do have and which of them might play this weekend.

Undoubtedly, the upcoming game against Blackburn Rovers is an important one, and as I mentioned in my last piece, one of the three very winnable games we have remaining in August.

Still, it still concerns me about which players Alex McLeish will pick when he makes his home debut, along with Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia. Heskey may well play again, in order to combat the aerial presence of Christopher Samba (if fit) and Ryan Nelsen (again, if fit). This doesn’t fill me with confidence for our chances of scoring, and not just because of my lack of confidence in Emile Heskey to put the ball in the back of the net. Truth is, when we play Heskey, it encourages long-ball football, which is all wrong and will get us nowhere. We mustn’t try and beat Blackburn physically for their game is centered on just that.

On top of this, the decision to leave Marc Albrighton on the bench is a difficult one to comprehend. When he came on against Fulham, he looked dangerous and I think it’s time to give him a starting spot in order for him to show what he’s capable of. This is a reiteration of what I’ve said before, but it’s an illustration of how strongly I feel he needs and deserves the opportunity. Long balls are not dangerous, but his deliveries into the box from the wing are.

As captain, there’s almost no chance of Petrov being dropped, but I would like to see Stephen Ireland given a chance in an attacking midfield role. His capacity to play killer passes could be crucial for us, as we could utilize the pace of Bent, Agbonlahor (up front), N’Zogbia and Albrighton to create chances. Makoun is more than capable of holding the midfield without Stan’s aid, and it doesn’t seem much can be done to alter or improve the defence at present.

Here would be my team vs. Blackburn:

GK – Given

RB – Young

LB – Warnock

CB – Dunne

CB – Collins

DMC – Makoun

RM – Albrighton

LM – N’Zogbia

AMC – Ireland

ST – Agbonlahor

ST – Bent

Perhaps I’m not quite back to reality just yet, with this selection, because McLeish is almost definitely not going to play the 4-1-2-1-2, and it is likely that Petrov and Delph will play, with Agbonlahor on the wing and Heskey up front. Long-ball football here we come.

Even still, we should get the result.

Awaiting Results

Doing the all-star team selection has made me appreciate how much this club means to me. Football, and Aston Villa FC, in particular has been a massive part of my life so far. Long may it continue.

Please leave a comment with your all-time Aston Villa XI and feel free to offer criticisms (or preferably heap generous praise) on my selection.

As God himself would say – it’s your round, my lord. So get selecting those teams.

Up the Villa.

Follow me on Twitter : @olliescrim

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