While I’m not one for jumping on a new signings back, Alan Hutton has had an undoubtedly shaky start to his Villa career and appears the only weak link in an otherwise solid backline right now.
Dropping a player so early on in their tenure at a club can do one of two things. It can give them the kick up the arse they need or it can make them miserable. Hopefully the first instance will apply to Charles N’Zogbia, who I felt was rightly dropped against his old club Wigan, but if the Frenchman deserves it than does Hutton not?
In my opinion the Scot will have come in having seen Luke Young go the other way and thought, perfect, no competition. However, this is not the case. While Carlos Cuellar is returning to full fitness I am still a believer that he is a centre-back, not a full back, though in youngster Chris Herd Villa could have an excellent right-back in the making.
Deservedly highlighted as the man of the match in the drab derby with Wolves by his manager, Herd was subsequently dropped for the incoming Hutton in what was arguably the shakiest defence performance of the season. Despite an underwhelming debut Hutton was given another chance to prove himself on his home debut at Newcastle and an assured if unspectacular display was arguably his best yet.
However, in the last two games the Scotland international has struggled to build on the slight semblance of form, putting in below par performances against QPR and Wigan that should have seen him concede a penalty in each.
Like I said, I don’t want to appear like I want Alan Hutton out for good because that would be nonsense but I believe that competition is a good thing and also that good performances should be rewarded, in the case of Herd, and consistent mediocrity stamped out when possible.
A look at the stats from the Wigan match prove that Hutton is yet to impose himself on the side and therefore can lift straight out in my opinion. Despite making a decent 4 tackles in the match and 2 interceptions – Warnock made 6 and 1 in comparison on the left – Hutton had just 37 touches of the ball compared to the impressive Warnock’s 65. While the left-back made a team high of 37 passes with a decent 73% accuracy, Hutton attempted just 10 passes and was successful with a pretty woeful 4 all game (40%).
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