Hands Off Our Graham! Youngster Attracting Interest

February 22, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Apologies for the awful Blind Date related title, couldn’t resist! Speculation is growing that if Villa are going to keep their 15-year-old prized asset Jordan Graham, than they will have to persuade him to resist the bright lights of Man Utd and Chelsea. The England youth international is widely regarded by those in the know as one of the hottest young talents in English football. At the wise old age of 15, Graham has appeared for the Villa second string already, including a substitute appearance in the 2-2 draw with fellow league high-flyers and reported interested party, Chelsea. The young prospect is unable to sign a professional contract until he turns 16, next month, meaning Villa have nothing to prevent the bigger boys having a look. I know little about him to be honest so am not the person to judge, but if the rumours are true that Fergie and Ancelotti are among his admirers, one can only hope that we keep hold of the attacking playmaker. For my interests, does anybody know of any stats on Jordan, or have any of you witnessed his talents first hand and if so, what does/will he offer in the future?

Milito Must be Free in Order to Tempt Villa

February 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Villa are reportedly interested in bringing Barcelona deputy centre-back Gabriel Milito to Villa Park as the Argentinian looks to secure regular first team football with the possibility of taking the smallest step down possible in joining what is expected to be somewhat of a revolution under Gerard Houllier next season! The 30-year-old has featured under Guardiola on 11 occasions in all competitions this term, but having only completed the 90 minutes three times, is keen to move away and is being touted for sunny pastures new in the Midlands. Villa are apparently hopeful that the Spanish giants will allow the defender to leave on a free transfer, despite his contract not running out until 2012, successfully recouping a grand total of nothing on their 20m euro investment in 2007 (didn’t really pay off did it!) A cruciate knee ligament injury kept the Argentine national stopper, who has made 34 appearances for his country scoring 1 goal, out of action for nearly 2 years and effectively hampering his chances at the Nou Camp. His big money signing came off the back of impressive form for Real Zaragoza and Milito was able to earn 42 appearances in his first full season at the club. Since, he has been kept out by old hand Carlos Puyol and sufficiently younger hand Gerard Pique, picking up 70 appearances in his 3 seasons, 15 of which were in the Champions League, netting twice and receiving 11 cautions. The link may well suggest that one of Villa’s current centre-halves is surplus to requirements, with many touting this to be Richard Dunne, despite a decent return to form since falling out with the management at the end of last year. Worth it on a free? One would think so, but is he really any better than what we already have?

Should Albrighton and Bannan Have to be Patient?

February 22, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Hot topic debates 

Gerard Houllier has told Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan, both regularly involved in the opening half of the season, to be patient for their chance to regain a place in the Villa starting line-up. Albrighton in particular was one of the sides, very few, shining lights under Houllier at the start of his tenure, but the manager has dropped the winger in the New Year, preferring instead to deploy Gabby Agbonlahor in a wide role to frankly little effect. The 21-year-old was consistently one of the sides top performers and is hugely unfortunate to be out of the side with the French boss favouring mis-firing experience rather than exciting youth. The Villa manager admitted that the pair were growing impatient in their time out of the side, but stated that this is something which he values, “Their impatience is reassuring but it must not hold them back. If you overplay them you burn them out.” I agree that the youngsters were playing too much at the start of the season but still think that they should be more involved with the likes of Petrov, Agbonlahor, Downing and even Ashley Young not really producing of late. In 2011 Marc Albrighton has started just 4 of a possible 10 games, having contributed to more goals (14 goals/assists in 20 starts) than any other player in the squad and at a far superior rate (every 0.70 games) than closest rival Ashley Young who has the same amount, 14 goals/assists, but in 28 starts, at a rate of 0.50 (1 every 2 games. The signs look even more bleak for wee Barry Bannan at the moment, who since the turn of the year has not even been named among the substitutes in 4 of the 10 games possible. In the remaining 6 games has featured from the bench twice, been an unused substitute twice, and started twice, albeit in the sides two FA Cup clashes this month. So do they deserve to come back into the reckoning more often or should either, or both, be dead certs for a starting berth? Is Houllier right in resting the club’s young talent or is he missing a trick?

Petrov Must be Patient Due to Increased Competition

February 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Gerard Houllier has warned club captain Stiliyan Petrov, that owning the armband does not mean that he mustn’t fight for his place in the first team. Having signed Jean Makoun and Michael Bradley in the summer and come under pressure after being overshadowed on the main by Reo-Coker this season, not to mention the emergence of young players such as Bannan and Delph, the 31-year-old is likely to see his usual regular spot in the Villa XI come under threat. Reports suggested that Turkish champions Galatasaray made a move for the Bulgarian in January which was rebuffed, but are preparing a renewed bid of around £2m this summer. If the speculated interest and fee is accurate I would suggest that it might be time up at Villa Park for the ex-Celtic man. The general consensus I have heard from most Villa fans is that the skipper is on the decline and I would have to agree. Losing a yard of pace when you never really had it in the first place is pretty fatal in a league where physical attributes are increasingly important. Petrov was dropped last time out against Blackpool after playing in midweek with his country and resting the experienced pro seems an option that his manager is more than willing to take. Houllier told the Birmingham Mail;

“Petrov is in my plans, but if he says ‘I want to play every game’, I’ll say ‘No’.

“He’s the captain so he must lead by example. I’m very pleased with his attitude.

“He’s been influential in me changing the philosophy that we have here. He’s still got a lot to give.

“You can play only 11 players at one time, but it is the squad and the unity of the squad that makes you win, not just 11 players.

“The players and the fans have to accept now that it is a squad – simple as that.

“When there’s no competition the teams go down. If you don’t accept competition you don’t do this job.”

If this is to be the midfielder’s last season, Villa fans should appreciate a man who has been superbly dedicated to the club in recent years and an excellent servant, integral to the progress made under Martin O’Neill. This season has been far from his best with Stiliyan seeming to struggle at times to keep up with the frantic nature of the league, but he is always a willing and committed member of the squad and a fantastic captain on and off the field. Do you think it should be Petrov’s last season or does he have more to offer? His future may well also lay in the hands of Nigel Reo-Coker who is yet to agree a new deal at the club, but do the signings of Makoun and Bradley, albeit on loan, signal that Houllier is looking elsewhere and, more importantly, to the future

Redknapp: Walker Will be Back Here for Sure

February 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

As expected, any Villa fans hoping to see Kyle Walker in a claret and blue shirt come next season should look away now. It had already been confirmed by both clubs, and the player himself, that there was no agreed fee involved in the loan deal which minimised the chances of Villa making the deal permanent significantly. Any move and aspirations from Houllier and the Villa fans to secure a transfer at the end of the current campaign have now been nullified completely after Harry Redknapp insisted that the 20-year-old full-back would definitely be returning to White Hart Lane in the summer. The Express & Star quoted the Spurs boss as saying;

“Kyle will be back here for sure, he’s still learning and got miles to learn but he is a talent, a real prospect..

“He has got all the attributes to be an England right-back of the future.

“He’ll come back here and push for a place.”

I have heard mixed opinions and reviews from Villa fans on Walker thus far, though all have concurred that he is a real prospect. His defensive abilities have come into question in a short spell which has seen him impress in an attacking sense, scoring two goals and earning a first senior England call-up. Disappointment levels?

Makoun Review: What to Make of Up and Down Start

February 17, 2011 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Player Reviews 

Jean Makoun joined the club after a long and drawn out transfer saga with old club Lyon. A deal was eventually agreed to see the 27-year-old Cameroon international to Villa Park for a reported up front fee of £5m with add-ons of around £2.5m touted to boot. Houllier was clearly very keen to sign the midfielder after being knocked back on a number of occasions and finally got his man prior to the Man City clash, though Makoun didn’t get international clearance and made his debut against Wigan. This game was one which was severely dented from a personal stand-point with regards to the playmaker when he was booked early on. Until that point he had used the ball well, if unspectacularly, but his hassling style saw him pick up a yellow for a pretty innocuous challenge and effectively stunted his progress in the game in my opinion, before his withdrawn around an hour in. After acclimatizing to the English game pretty quickly, Makoun was imperious next time out in my opinion against United, with his stats showing him out-pass his team-mates and opponents alike. He backed this up with a man of the match award against Fulham and that game got me excited about the quality which Villa had obtained despite fading slightly towards the end. Unfortunately, just as he was getting a good run of early form, Makoun had a nightmare moment last time out against Blackpool, making a rash challenge and rightly getting a straight red card. So where does that leave us in knowing what we can expect from the industrious, pass-master? I though I’d have a little look at his stats to see just how well he has done. In-depth Player Stats

Villa Linked to Newcastle Man to Solve Left-Back Slot

February 15, 2011 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Transfer News 

Gerard Houllier is rumoured to be lining up a replacement for the unhappy Stephen Warnock in advance after being linked to Newcastle’s Spaniard Jose Enrique. The Daily Mail reported that the defender will want to leave the club if they can’t secure Premier League safety, but the fact that Villa will fail in that mission seems more likely at the current time. Enrique has 18 months left on his contract and is attracting the interest of a number of clubs following some eye-catching performances which have shown defensive astuteness and attacking qualities to boot. Guess who Villa are speculated to be fighting with for the 25-year-old’s signature? That’s right Liverpool, as ever, I swear they have the same scouts. However, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has played down a potential move and stated that he is relaxed over the player’s unwillingness to sign a contract at the current time, ring any bells with the Ashley Young situation? Pardew stated: “Jose has made it quite clear to us that until we’re safe he doesn’t want to open any discussions and we’re comfortable with that, it makes sense for us.” Would Enrique be a good acquisition? Is he better than the out-of-the-picture Warnock?

Bye Bye Beye-by?

February 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Aston Villa full-back and up to now flop, Habib Beye may be on his way out of the club on loan, with Championship side Ipswich Town offering him away out of his Villa hell. The 32-year-old Senegal international has fallen so far from grace that he has been training with the reserves and his future is all but certain to be away from Villa Park. The defender is yet to appear for Villa this year and infact, Beye’s last performance in claret and blue was back in October in the Carling Cup extra-time victory over Burnley.

The Unfortunately Titled Bent Review: In-depth Stats

February 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Player Reviews 

Darren Bent marked his Villa debut in dream fashion, scoring the only goal in a fantastic 1-0 win over Manchester City, but how has he really faired in his first 5 games at the club. Coming with the burden of an £24m price tag, Bent needed to start well and did exactly that on his home debut, following his City winner with a second against their fierce rivals Manchester United on his third appearance. During his time at the club he netted his second senior international goal against Denmark last week and has shown what most expected of him, the tendencies of the poacher striker. A right place, right time striker with a knack for the composed finish. Some Villa fans have questioned what else he has offered but shouldn’t forget that if he scores goals, what else do you really need. Passing and Shooting Stats

Walker Review: Stats, Pros and Cons of Villa’s Loan-Man

February 14, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Player Reviews 

Kyle Walker impressed Fabio Capello enough to warrant his first senior international call-up after just 5 games at Villa Park, catching the eye with two fantastic individual efforts against old-club Sheffield United and a long drive against Fulham. Some Villa fans have been slightly less enthused as the 20-year-old, unsurprisingly due to his age, is prone to the odd hairy moment, especially in a defensive capacity. So I wanted to take a more in-depth look into the start of his Villa career to establish just how good, or perhaps not so, that the young full-back is. Read Walker’s In-depth Stats in Full Here

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