‘Easy’ Early Start Could Prove to be Making of McLeish – Half-Season Preview

August 7, 2011 by
Filed under: Aston Villa, Hot topic debates 

Now that the hysteria, negative in the most part, of hiring an ex-Blues manager has subsided, Villa are set to embark on the new Premier League season 2011/12 with a lack of games and indeed a lack of players under their belt. The new boss hasn’t been handed the entirity of the transfer funds made from the sales of key players such as Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, and despite replenishing the squad with excellent signings in Charles N’Zogbia and Shay Given, the Scot’s squad is thin on the ground.

It is for this reason that McLeish will be thankful for a somewhat favourable start to the campaign after the fixture list revealed that the club would not play one of last term’s top 6 until 8 games into the new season, when the club travel to Manchester City. Villa open their account with an away trip to Fulham, also under new leadership in Martin Jol, though a home tie with Midlands rivals Wolves is a standout fixture just 3 games in, and is the first of the Villans matches to be shown live on Sky on Saturday 27th.

With 5 of the club’s first 7 matches being against opponents who finished in the bottom half of the table, or promoted sides in QPR (live on Sky a month later on September 25th), McLeish is certainly under pressure to get results immediately, and may need to do so when looking at the club’s schedule for December.

After a so-called easy start there is inevitably going to be a tricky period in any fixture list, and Villa’s campaign during the Christmas period couldn’t be trickier! Starting with a home tie with champions Manchester United Villa then travel to Bolton, where victories are notoriously hard to come by, before hosting Liverpool and Arsenal back-to-back. The month end with two of the toughest away games in the league, first against Stoke before facing Chelsea on New Year’s Eve! Happy New Year? Perhaps not!

So the end of 2011 could be an unfruitful one for McLeish, highlighting the importance of getting the high number of fans still opposed to his appointment on board early on. Villa enter the campaign having played just 5 pre-season friendlies, the most recent of which saw Charles N’Zogbia make a goalscoring debut in a 1-1 draw away to Europa League finalists Braga. A bright display from the Frenchman was encouraging, along with Jean Makoun’s ability to see a pass before he receives the ball and I am tipping the January signing, and am sure McLeish is hoping in the same vein, to be like a new recruit this time around, with the likes of Stephen Warnock and Ireland also looking to rejuvenate their Villa careers.

In terms of friendly highlights, Barry Bannan has perhaps been the most promising of the younger crop, as Albrighton was the year before him, whilst Shay Given has proven what a coup he could be for the club as well. Darren Bent’s 3 goals indicate that his finishing will be crucial next year, and even though some maintain that he is not involved in the games enough, his prowess in front of goal will undoubtedly be key to a decent finish for McLeish’s debut season at the helm.

So plenty to look forward to, plenty of action to get your teeth in to, and plenty for the new man in charge to prove to the fans as we approach the new campaign. Anyone excited? I know I am!

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3 Comments on ‘Easy’ Early Start Could Prove to be Making of McLeish – Half-Season Preview

  1. TJ on Sun, 7th Aug 2011 10:51
  2. New sponsorship? Not that it’s blatantly obvious or anything 😉

    He needs to start well. More importantly we as a club need to start well and take advantage of our fixture list, because teams will come back at us when we have to play the bigger clubs. I think 8th would be a good achievement this season, 7th would be fantastic. Top 10 would be fine, lower would be disappointing. Another relegation battle – totally unacceptable with the players we have.

  3. HUB on Sun, 7th Aug 2011 11:25
  4. A very measured blog. Though not a physical player, I think Makoun will be quite an important surgeon in midfield this year.

    And mate. Have you got in bed with Murdoch. Lay off the SkySport product placement, you sound like an advocate of everything that has inflated the sport. Bit sad. god.

  5. bradders on Sun, 7th Aug 2011 16:53
  6. any team facing villa this season will fancy their chances i dont think weve got anywhere near a decentt squad let alone team a couple injuries and we will struggle and i am un sure that mcleish is the man to get the best out of what hes got i hope iam wrong but a finish closer to the bottom four is more realistic .and i fear a long and worrying season ahead

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