Last week, new manager Alex McLeish claimed that he would be handing a clean slate to all the Villa players in order for them to prove their worth to the club, offering the likes of Stephen Warnock and Stephen Ireland a second chance at Villa Park after a torrid 2010/11 campaign.
McLeish stated last week:
“There’ll be a clean slate for not only the young players but also the players already here.
“That includes those perhaps who were probably in the doldrums, those not playing at their best and those maybe who were mentally not right.
“Maybe we can give them a spark by coming in. It’s a clean slate.
“Let’s see what these guys can give us because I don’t think anybody purchased by Villa is a bad player.
“We will be telling them that and we will be trying to get the very, very best out of them – that’s the manager’s job.”
Those comments also regard the likes of Habib Beye, whose Villa career has never taken off and nor should it in my opinion! When it comes to Stephen Warnock there is no doubt in my mind that he can still be Aston Villa’s starting left back, despite a dismal campaign and relationship with Gerard Houllier last season. The defender impressed in his opening season with the club, earning a call up to England’s World Cup squad in 2010 in the process.
A poor first half of the campaign saw the former Liverpool and Blackburn man slip way down the pecking order at Villa Park, thanks in no small part to his fractious relationship with Houllier, who sold him when in charge of Liverpool.
With regards to Stephen Ireland, I for one was really excited about his arrival as part of a deal which saw James Milner move to Manchester City, though my excitement was short lived. The midfielder undoubtedly has real talent but his attitude is pretty abysmal and McLeish will be hoping he can convert the Irishman into a committed part of his squad. No mean feat. Ironically, a Stephen Ireland on the top of his game is exactly what the side missed last season in my opinion as we looked blunt in an attacking sense from the middle of the pitch.
If Ireland can recapture the form he produced a few seasons back there is no doubt he can be a real asset to this club, but if his attitude doesn’t change and he doesn’t keep his mouth shut, I fear this will never happen.
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