Player Review: Nigel Reo-Coker

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Player Reviews 

Who better to occupy my second instalment of Player Review than Villa’s new temporary captain, Nigel Reo-Coker. The 26-year-old was handed the honour of the club armband after permanent skipper, Stiliyan Petrov was injured in last weekend’s clash with Sunderland. The knee problem is likely to keep the Bulgarian out of action until the New Year but the unfortunate nature of the injury for Petrov symbolises an unbelievable turn of events in the Villa career of Nigel Reo-Coker. After featuring in 8 of the 9 league games thus far, just 2 less than the whole of last term, the midfielder has impressed new manager Gerard Houllier and fans alike with his tireless performances in the centre of the park. It is perhaps not a surprise that the London born player was entrusted with the captaincy having led both of his previous clubs, Wimbledon and West Ham, from the age of 20. Reo-Coker has also captained Villa on numerous occasions, most notably lifting the Peace Cup in last year’s pre-season, and his ability to lead by example made him an exemplary candidate for the role. The tenacious England Under-21 international will guide his team out for the first time in the league this season against fierce rivals Birmingham on Sunday. Full Reo-Coker Review

Big Game Preview: Aston Villa vs Birmingham City

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Injury News, Match Previews 

Sunday 31st October 2010

Opponent: Birmingham City

Venue: Villa Park

Kick Off: 12:00

Sunday afternoon sees this season’s first encounter of fierce rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham City. Both sides have had inconsistent and somewhat disappointing starts to the campaign but, rest assured all will be forgotten with a victory in the biggest game of the calendar year for both sets of fans. Villa play host to the Blues in a game which sees the two sides separated by just 1 point in mid table positions. Villa sit in 10th with Birmingham close behind in 12th but a win means so much more than points and league standings for the opposing fans. Villa have ruled the roost in the second City bragging rights for many years and City manager McLeish is yet to rack up a win against his rivals. Villa have come out on top in the last 6 meetings between the two sides with memorable moments bringing unbridled joy into the hearts of Villa fans including my own in recent times. The 5-1 thrashing and a late Gary Cahill acrobatic winner among the very best and much needed pick me ups of the home crowd in past encounters. Extended Big Game Preview

Reo-Coker Caps Fine Form with Captaincy

October 26, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Hot topic debates 

After a couple of seasons to forget under Martin O’Neill, Nigel Reo-Coker has achieved a complete turnaround of fortunes under new manager Gerard Houllier. Since it was revealed that captain Stiliyan Petrov would be out for a number of months rather than weeks, Houllier has had to consider his options in selecting a new captain. A reported training ground bust up between MON and Reo-Coker had threatened to end the midfielder’s spell at the club but a string of tireless performances this term have seen him rewarded. It is thought that the 26-year-old’s main rivals for the role were centre backs Richard Dunne and James Collins but Houllier has opted for the Englishman who has skippered both of his previous clubs, MK Dons and West Ham. To top off the fantastic news for the player, the £8.5m signing has also seemingly earned himself a new contract with the club. With his current deal expiring next summer Houllier will be keen to thrash out new terms ASAP after praising the tenacious skipper. Houllier Press Statement

Houllier Keen To Keep Reo-Coker and Young, Gabby In For Surgery

October 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Injury News 

First of all I’d like to apologise for the lack of posts and action on the site over the past week but I have been away and I’m running this ship single handed currently, but I’m back now and looking forward to a potential Champions League hangover for Tottenham tomorrow! Read more

Gerard Houllier’s To Do List: #1 – Keep First Team On Their Toes

September 20, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Today signalled the start of a new era at Villa Park with new manager Gerard Houllier and his back room staff taking charge of their first training session. After a questionable start to the campaign I will be looking at some of the things that Houllier should be considering in order to improve the clubs fortunes on the pitch. In my opinion, first port of call is to drop some of the first team regular’s, some of whom just haven’t started this season. Here I will discuss who could be left out and why. Changes To Be Made

Fighting Fit: Duverne Linked With Villa Role

September 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Villa Manager 

Gerard Houllier may be weighing up a move for the fitness coach who became infamous during the World Cup for a bust up with France Captain, Patrice Evra. Robert Duverne quit his post with the French national side after a fracas with Evra and a pitiful World Cup from the 1998 Champions. The incoming manager at Villa may look to offer the fiery Frenchman a new challenge in the Premier League. Read more

Another Day, Another Manager

No longer than 12 hours after the Mail reported that Houllier was to be appointed at Villa Park, there has been another candidate thrown into the mix. The new-boy comes in the shape of former Italy boss Roberto Donadoni. Donadoni’s UK representative Charles Collymore, no relation to Stan, claimed that the 46 year old was interested in being the next man in charge.

“Roberto is a great student of the English game and he is very interested in the job at Aston Villa. He knows Villa are a top club with an ambitious owner and feels he could be a success there”

If the Italian was to take charge it would go completely against the criteria that the board stressed was so important in a new manager. Donadoni has no experience at Premier League level and doesn’t have any experience of club management in European competitions. Donadoni was something of a surprise replacement for Marcelo Lippi, who left after winning the World Cup in 2006. The ex-Milan player was given the job after an impressive record with Livorno, with whom he achieved a 9th place finish in the Serie A, way above expectations.

His managerial career started in 2001, just a year after hanging up his boots, with Lecco before joining Livorno with an extremely brief 3 game stint at Genoa saandwiched between his two spells at the club. The manager was relieved of his duties by Italy after being knocked out by eventual Champions Spain in the Euro’s on a penalty shoot-out in  the quarter finals and winning just 13 games of a 23 game reign. Since then he has managed Napoli but a short 7 month spell was ended after losing 8 from 18. This sort of record will endear Villa fans and the candidate is seen by many as a bigger name than reputation.

His representative went on to say that his client has always wanted to manage in England and feels that he has the credentials to make a success of himself at the club.

“Roberto has worked at the highest level and he has always dreamed of coaching in England. Roberto has the experience and talent to develop the best young English talent and also the knowledge to find the best foreign talent available.”

A foreign manager is looking increasingly likely and is something that most Villa fans are taking to the idea of. After MON seemingly refused to dip into the foreign transfer market, maintaining that the best of British would take the club to the next level, many fans see the possibility of signing a few foreign stars as favourable. Whether Donadoni is the man is debatable having a frankly mediocre managerial record, taking charge of 146 matches, winning 52, drawing 46 and losing on 48 occasions.

In other baffling news Aston villa have resigned ex-Norwich keeper Andy Marshall on a year’s contract as cover for Big Brad and Big Brad. The veteran 35 year old keeper has not started a single game for the club and but the deal will allow the likes of youngster’s Elliott Parish and Benjamin Siegrist to get some first team experience from potential loan moves.


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!


Aston Villa vs Everton Match Report

August 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Reports 

Sunday 29th August 2010

Aston Villa 1 – 0 Everton

A much needed win doesn’t exactly cover it in terms of today’s result which has seen a rapid turnaround in fortunes since, well, Rapid. An assured defensive display for the most part was something that I indicated was essential in my preview and that’s exactly what was delivered. This was a battling victory which was relieving to see as the game was largely dominated by Everton in terms of ball control. Nevertheless Villa got their goal through Luke Young and held on to an invaluable 3 points.

The home side recalled the rested Steward Downing, Stephen Warnock and Richard Dunne and the understanding within the team was a vast improvement. Emile Heskey missed out despite a gutsy performance in midweek and Gabby Agbonlahor was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench leaving John Carew supported by Ashley Young playing in a central role once more. There were also starts for Marc Albrighton, Luke Young and Nigel Reo-Coker replacing Stephen Ireland, who pulled up in the warm up, and Carlos Cuellar.

An open start to the game was edged by the visitors until a mistake by ‘Afroman’ Marouane Fellaini allowed Luke Young’s ball down the line to reach John Carew who headed into the path of Ashley Young. The right back had carried on his run and Luke Young was picked out with an inch perfect pass from his name sake to guide the ball beautifully into the top corner with his left foot.

It was at this stage that the game seriously swung in Everton’s favour and they almost leveled moments later. After neat build up down the left found Steven Pienaar who’s spectacular effort beat Friedel all ends up before rattling the crossbar. The visitor’s dominance rose to a high of 85% possession but they failed to create any clear cut chances due to resolute defending from the Villa back four. Friedel had little other than a routine save from an Arteta free kick to deal with in the first half and by the end of the period Villa were more competitive and nearly won a penalty through youngster Marc Albrighton.

The second 45 started brightly and the game opened up with Villa coming into it more on the break. Carew had a headed chance before a lone run from Ashley Young resulted in a shot from 20 yards which was dragged wide. Everton again looked decent following the arrival of Louis Saha for the ineffective Beckford but it was the home side once more who almost capitalised on the break. The quiet John Carew powered past Distin forcing a save from Tim Howard which rebounded to the feet of Young. He then saw his shot from 6 yards blocked by Jagielka and just kept out by the American stopper.

American counterpart Brad Friedel was being called upon more heavily at the other end producing a smart stop from a Saha volley and watching a Jack Rodwell flick travel agonizingly past the post. Agbonlahor then replaced an uncomfortable John Carew before Marc Albrighton should have put the game beyond doubt. Ashley Young’s effort was saved by Howard and came to the winger on the half volley. With more time than he realised the youngster showed a slight lack of composure slicing his first time effort way off target.

With 10 minutes remaining Everton threw everything at Villa and Jagielka missed a headed chance from a corner before a fairly confusing 5 minutes of added time were indicated. Saha had the last chance of the game bringing a smart stop from Friedel from range but Villa hung on and my how they had to. A massive improvement in the defensive department lead to this victory and Luke Young who was somewhat unlucky last season with MON’s selections picked up a deserved man of the match award.

Villa Player Ratings

Brad Friedel – 7 – reliable, little to do first period but a string of impressive stops in the second

Luke Young – 8 – best on show, superb finish and threw his body on the line all game

Richard Dunne – 6 – improving, glimpses of his best form after a slow start to the season and the match

James Collins – 7 – strong, fairly comfortable game but what he did, he did well

Stephen Warnock – 6 – comfortable, not too much threat to deal with but reliable as ever

Marc Albrighton – 6 – decent, some positive runs but showed naivety defensively and should have scored

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – tireless, frustrated at times but a good captain’s shift

Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – assured, did well in circumstances of late call up

Stewart Downing – 5 – quiet, little involvement and some sub par deliveries

Ashley Young – 7 – lively, worked his socks off and created chances including a superb assist

John Carew – 5 – laboured, struggled on his own, yet to impress this season


Gabby Agbonlahor – 5 – little time and had to do more defending than attacking

Aston Villa vs Rapid Vienna Match Report

August 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Reports 

Thursday 26th August 2010

Aston Villa     2 – 3     Rapid Vienna      (Rapid Vienna win 4-3 on aggregate)

The nightmare returned to Villa Park tonight as the Villains crashed out once more to Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna. It was exactly one year ago that Vienna came to the Midlands and managed a 2-1 defeat which saw them through on away goals. A case of lessons not being learned may have eventually lead to the home sides downfall once more and a feeling of de ja vu was not what the doctored ordered for Villa. Another penalty miss cost us dear and spurned opportunities at one end were only bettered, or worsened in this case, by woeful defending at the other.

Villa set up with a strong line up with recalls for fit again James Collins, Carlos Cuellar and perhaps not so fit again Gabby Agbonlahor. Brad Guzan kept his place in goal from the first leg though ever presents thus far, Stephen Warnock and Stewart Downing were rested alongside Richard Dunne.

Villa were unable to maintain a 2-1 lead in the game and could have been helped by a more convincing scoreline in the first leg to ease the same nerves that were present last time. MacDonald decided to field a weakened team in the first leg which was something that MON had done the season before and was punished for and, although the team that started should have managed to see off Vienna, some questions must be asked of the caretaker boss.

The game started well for Villa with a chance falling to Gabby Agbonlahor after just a minutes action. The pacey striker could only find the keeper’s gloves however with a left footed strike after a neat through ball from Ashley Young. Young was impressive throughout the first period and after a lovely ball from Petrov he delivered a teasing low cross that was this time converted by Agbonlahor. The signs were good for the home side who looked comfortable and new signing Stephen Ireland began to settle into the game and pull the strings for Villa.

A real blow occurred when Agbonlahor, who had been bright, pulled up with what appeared to be a calf strain and was replaced by Marc Albrighton in the 38th minute. The young winger played admirably once more upon his arrival into the game and engineered a chance for himself early in the second half which he dragged wide. Dismal defending from makeshift left back Habib Beye began what proved to be a defensive collapse. After dallying on the ball the full back failed to clear his lines before being dispossessed and the resulting cross was headed home well by Atdhe Nuhiu.

Ashley Young was then bought down in the box after a clear foul by Marcus Katzer but the referee overlooked the penalty claims. Moments later the home side were awarded a somewhat more dubious penalty for a supposed tug on Emile Heskey. Captain Stiliyan Petrov stepped up but his effort was tame and easily saved to the goalkeeper’s right before Heskey’s reputation preceded him missing the follow up when it was easier to score.

Villa did then make the breakthrough after a flicked effort by Petrov was saved and the ball was shipped back out to Ashley Young. The wideman delivered and the ball was half cleared to Habib Beye on the edge of the box who’s volley was turned in via the midriff of Heskey, his first goal since February. The travellers hit back immediately and went ahead on away goals after a confusing clearance by the shaky Curtis Davies went behind for a corner. The resulting corner lead to a flick off a Villa head finding Mario Sonnleitner who’s header just crept over the line after Guzan got a hand to it. The American stopper would have hoped for more as his feet slipped from beneath him and he failed to get a strong enough hand to the shot.

More poor defending by Habib Beye saw the visitors claim a breakaway third goal to kill off the match. The Senegalese international gave the ball away on the halfway line and was exposed out of position when substitute Christopher Trimmel picked out fellow bench warmer Rene Gartler to tap home. The striker was left free at the back post by Cuellar due to poor full back play, reinforcing the fact that the Spaniard is a centre half and should be employed in that position. Despite Villa’s best efforts, replacing Reo-Coker with Delfouneso and throwing James Collins up front, they could not conjure another goal and the sinking feeling returned to the Villa faithful.

Villa Player Ratings

Brad Guzan – 5 – unconvincing, should have done better with the 2nd Vienna goal

Carlos Cuellar – 5 – rusty, struggled for pace against winger and caught napping at the back post

James Collins – 6 – strong, good dominance and an attacking aerial threat

Curtis Davies – 5 – poor, obvious that he is not up to match fitness after months without playing

Habib Beye – 4 – dismal, at fault for 2 goals and nervous out of position

Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – average, assured in possession but could have scored

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – industrious, good ball retention but awful penalty

Stephen Ireland – 7 – promising, controlled and looked comfortable after slow start

Ashley Young – 6 – faded, superb start and assist but faded and became agitated, some poor crosses

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – injured, good until replaced with neat if simple finish

Emile Heskey – 7 – tireless, great work rate and link up from the big man who deserved his goal


Marc Albrighton – 7 – lively, ran at the defence and caused problems with decent delivery

Nathan Delfouneso – 5 – no time to impress, should have been used earlier

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