Kicked to the Curb?

Today’s main story at Villa Park surrounds an interview supposedly help with former player Alan Curbishley on Wednesday. The board hope to fill the managerial vacancy by the time Villa kick-off in their next league game against Stoke City next weekend. Curbishley who joined the club as a player from arch rivals Birmingham has been touted as a candidate since MON departed and it is now apparent that he was indeed shortlisted for the job. With the club stating that a manager with Premier League experience was a necessity, Curb’s has shot up to second favourite for the job. Whether this should be read in to too much is another matter as the favourite seems to be changing every other day but it is clear that the former Charlton and West Ham boss is in the frame.

So four days ago it was Koeman and two days ago it was Moyes, both of whom are still though to be in the running, but out of these three gaffer’s who would you most like to see at Villa Park?

Curbishley’s record is very decent at Premier League level considering the players he has dealt with. He took Charlton into the league before establishing them as a mainstay in and around mid table, a feat that hasn’t really been emulated since with Stoke looking the most likely. After leaving the Addick’s the club found themselves in turmoil as many a manager tried and failed to feel his boots. With West Ham he battled relegation and successfully so keeping the club up in a dramatic, down to the wire fashion before leaving two years ago. One main issue may be that he hasn’t managed since but this seems to have been through his own choosing as he is linked with nearly every job that has comes upon his departure. I hear he was very close to becoming a checkout girl at Sainsbury’s!

In other slightly less interesting news a 22 man squad was named yesterday with no shocks whatsoever from the 25 available places. Hopefully this paves the way for three superstars in January, who knows. The squad in full is;

Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan, James Collins, Carlos Cuellar, Habib Beye, Curtis Davies, Richard Dunne, Luke Young, Stephen Warnock, Eric Lichaj, Stewart Downing, Jonathan Hogg, Isaiah Osbourne, Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stephen Ireland, Steve Sidwell, Ashley Young, Moustapha Salifou, John Carew, Gabby Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey

If you’re wondering where the likes of Albrighton, Delfouneso, Delph and Clark are on the list they do not have to be submitted as they are under 21 and can be called upon at any time. They are joined by youth hopefuls such as Shane Lowry, Nathan Baker, Barry Bannan and Andreas Weimann.

In some positive news right back Luke Young has expressed his desire to stay at the club and move on after a difficult season last term. The ex-England international was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool this summer but opted against a switch and has started all three Premier League games thus far. This is great news as Young was unlucky not to play more last season after having a fantastic first season at the club and he looks back to his best now, especially in last weekend’s victory against Everton, netting the winner. This should mean that Cuellar, who is far from an inspired right back, should fight for a centre half spot, where he has turned in a number of impressive performances.

Although it is too late to get excited about since the deadline is passed, it is typical that Villa were linked with a player today. Sporting CP striker Yannick Djalo is rumoured to have been a deadline day target, although it is thought that the club may revive their interest in January. Djalo is a pacey, young striker who abused Manchester City scoring twice in a pre-season friendly earlier this summer so if we were to sign him it would be just grand if he could do that to them again later in the campaign because we don’t like them much!


Deadline Day

So its transfer deadline day and it’s a hectic time, on the phone all day looking for new last ditch signings, bargain and loans isn’t it? Well no. Not at Villa anyway. The current managerial vacancy means no dealings this window other than the part exchange for Milner and Ireland. I’m trying to stay positive after a good win against Everton but it doesn’t help seeing the Blues making signings left, right and centre, most notably Aleksandr Hleb who Villa have been linked with on numerous occasions even prior to his Arsenal spell. So nothing to report and nothing to expect on the transfer front as the manager’s situation still overshadows any hopes of a team building exercise over the international break.

One positive note is at least there are no new boys, bigger boys or bullies coming in so squad harmony should be relatively high after the weekend. Just Ashley Young in action for England on Friday which should see Gabby Agbonlahor get a lengthy rest to recover from injuries. Warnock misses out once more due to the so called revolution of the England side with Kieran Gibbs getting the nod as Cole’s understudy.Young will face club captain Stiliyan Petrov if selected and the midfield workhorse is wary of a lashback from the Three Lions despite a depleted squad.

“We know how strong England are. They had a disappointing World Cup, but now they are going to show the fans that is all behind them, they will try to win the game because of that feeling.”

So, back to the usual business of discussing the next manager at the club. Interestingly this Monday saw Everton boss, David Moyes’ odds slashed quite drastically making him favourite with many bookies which will encourage many Villains. The Scotsman has scooped Manager of the Year awards along with his rave reviews at the club since arriving in 2002 and has impressed in all departments including his ability to pull in some big names for low prices (See Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill, Baines and the rest). The slightly scarily intense 47 year old certainly fits the boards criteria with his extensive Premier League experience despite still being somewhat of a whippersnapper in managerial circles.

USA coach Bob Bradley has now committed his future to the American dream so is out of the running although caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald is still in with a chance. The club statement from Paul Faulkner seemed to effectively rule KMac out but the current man in charge finally made his interest in the job known to chairman Randy Lerner and is still sitting pretty as one of the favourites for the job after an impressive victory against Everton. It is now thought by many that the two Scotsman who met in battle on Sunday are now to duel over the post at Villa Park despite the fact that Moyes ruled himself out just a few weeks back.

Still lurking in the bushes waiting to pounce on the opportunity is dirty dog Sven Goran-Eriksson along with the likes of Alan Curbishley and Phil Brown but there’s no doubt that most Villa fans would see Moyes as a major coup. Let me know what you think about the rumours and the lack of activity at the club and I’ll be sure to write about the new signings that won’t happen later on!


Quick Turnaround

If you had asked most Villa fans of their opinions on the rest of the season after Thursday night the responses may have been bleak but a new day brings new optimism into the supposed club in crisis. With the most brash of pessimists writing Villa’s European hopes off already by Friday just two days later the club find themselves sitting pretty in fourth. A gutsy 1-0 victory over an impressive Everton side was relieving not only due to the result but in the manner of the win. The reliable defence of last term hadn’t seemed to have returned from their holiday’s but were magnificent today under pressure in a game where they soaked up more than a sponge in a wet t-shirt competition.

The reunion of Dunne and Collins at centre back was a vast improvement with match winner Luke Young impressing at right back. Many will say that the result was not deserved but a battling performance was just what the doctor ordered and showed that Villa are no pushover’s. Although the result only takes off some of the humiliation of the midweek defeat it offers a much brighter outlook to the fans and chairman Randy Lerner. Will this win spark a mini revival or was it a fortuitous result that is unlikely to reoccur?

Over the last couple of days the manager’s position has been a massive talking point with MacDonald maintaining that he would make a decision on his availability after today’s game. Dutchman Ronald Koeman also threw his name into the mix with some clear intentions of hoping to fill the vacancy.

“In Holland we have always viewed Villa as an important club with a tradition of being powerful in Europe when I was younger, so I would be very interested in managing them if the job was offered to me.”

He revealed that he has had a number of offers but sees Villa Park as an extremely desirable destination after an impressive club record in Spain, Portugal and his native Holland. This interest though, appears to have been quashed this evening after the club finally released an interesting statement regarding their preferred candidate.

“Two of the traits we believe are of crucial importance are that candidates have experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad.”

These revelations all but rule out the current man in charge along with Koeman and long running favourite for the job Bob Bradley. The shortlist appears to have been cut down further with candidates such as Jurgen Klinsmann and Otmar Hitzfeld not having the required Premier League experience that the board room are looking for. Does this mean that the candidates have been whittled down to the likes of Guus Hiddink (yes please), Sven Goran-Eriksson (no thanks) and Alan Curbishley (we’ll think about it)? Martin Jol would be a popular choice but has the statement opened the door to more unwelcome unemployed than before? The likes of Houllier, Southgate and Phil Brown are now in the mix but would this signify a step in the wrong direction for the club?

Also in the news this week was a very unnerving increase in interest in Ashley Young from Tottenham. Would selling the player be a huge mistake and a massive omen of what’s to come or does every player have his price? Congratulations goes out to Ashley on another well deserved England call up. In better news Gabby Agbonlahor was quoted saying that he would have no reason to leave the club for his entire career as he hopes to emulate the likes of Steven Gerrard as a one club man. At just 24 the striker is now Villa’s longest serving player and hopes to keep it that way so good on you Gabby! Views on today’s game, the manager’s position or anything else are wanted at the end of a day that has Villains smiling once again.

Up The Villa!