Villa World

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Wednesday Round-Up, 29/4/09

As I didn’t update after the WHAM! game, I thought we could take a little look at the happenings in and around Villa Park.

Ashley Young wins PFA Player of the Year. Good for him. I am a fan of Ashley Young, but I do feel that he has not been at his best since getting suspended for his sending-off in the Sunderland game. He appears to be more wasteful than at any other time in his Villa career. Perhaps he is just a little over-rated right now.  I mean, he got three player of the month awards in a calendar year, but I would argue whether he was even Villa’s best player in that month! Still, he is a good lad. He works hard, is a delight to watch at times and I think has the potential to be a great player for us as long as he keeps his feet on the ground. I’d like to see him cut out the diving, too!

Laursen and Bouma. Martin Laursen is likely to retire soon, which is horrible. Not just for a Villa point of view, but for him. Wilfred Bouma is now not going to be making a comeback this season. To me that is okay, I just want him back for next season. It’s a cliche, but it really will be like signing a new player.

The Reserves win the league. I was there, too. The club deserve tremendous credit for the Academy work, and a lot of them lads are what have won us that league. Sure there has been the odd contribution (mostly Nicky Shorey) from first- players but overall it’s a bunch of young lads that will all stand a good chance of being relative successes in football – hopefully, in the main, with us! Congratulations to all involved.

MON discusses the Old Firm. The annual should-Celtic-and-Rangers-join-the-EPL question has come up. When asked, MON has unsurprisingly said yes. For me, I can see the arguement but it raises too many questions and in all honesty, would Celtic and Rangers fans want it? After all, would they qualify for the Champions League on a consistent basis? They would certainly be in a better position financially and the potential for both clubs would be enormous, but they would not be in a position to be as dominant as they are now and subsequently I don’t ever see it happening.

Speaking of MON… He also won a libel case against Football365 regarding an article from May 2008 involving his dealings with Rafa Benitez. According to BBC Sport, his representative Paul Hackney said,

“It appeared to the claimant there was a campaign by some of the employees of the defendant to try to undermine the claimant’s reputation”

Amusingly, the article came 16 days after 365 Media Group had apologised for another libellous piece concerning the Villa manager’s dealings in the transfer market. Lawyers for 365 Media Group apologised and will pay the costs of action at the High Court in London. Cretins!

And finally, transfer talk a-plenty! We have been linked with… *takes a deep breath*… Dorin Goian (Steaua Bucharest, defender), Rafael van der Vaart (Rea Madrid, midfielder), Fabian Delph (Leeds, midfielder), Nikola Zigic (Valencia, on-loan at Racing Santander, Striker), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV, attacking midfielder), Mohammed Sarr (Standard Liege, defender), Paul Scharner (Wigan, defender/midfielder), Yohan Cabaye (Lille, midfielder) and Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace, right-back). We will probably sign none of them!

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bouma Suffers Setback

Left-back Wilfred Bouma will not be making a comeback this season after Martin O’Neill revealed that there have been further complications.

“There have been some floating particles in the ankle that might have been there for some time or might have broken off in his rehab,” said O’Neill.

“We will know better about that by the middle of next week but I think the idea is that it is best to get the surgery done now.” (Source: BBC Sport)

To me, much like Martin Laursen, if him remaining on the sidelines for the rest of this season means he is ready to go next season, then hopefully that will be the case. Bouma – like Laursen – is a popular character within Aston Villa and it’s supporters, and we are all hoping for themselves and the team that they make full recoveries and are ready to go next season.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment

MON laments Laursen loss

Martin O’Neill has admitted that Martin Laursen is unlikely to play again this season. He last played against West Brom in January, where he was coming back from the knee injury – and in hindsight it was too soon. Maybe if he had rested a while longer then he would have been in a position to come back. However, what is done is done, and to be honest I just hope he is ready for next season.

MON has also alluded to the fact that not only have we missed him defensively, but also from an attacking point of view.

“You just can’t keep moaning because he’s been out,” said O’Neill. “You’ve just got to address it and try and go forward with it. But we have missed him this season.

“I’ve likened him to a Paul McGrath-type here. Martin has been immense for us and we have missed his presence.

“We’ve missed his presence defensively and, interestingly enough, we’ve actually missed it in the opposition box.” (Source: Express & Star)

Martin Laursen was the best signing of David O’Leary in terms of ability, and you have to believe that DOL would have done a little better had Laursen been fit. Not saying he would have done great, just better!

If Martin Laursen is available next season, then brilliant. If he is not, then that is a huge shame for the player, and something that will be very worrying for us. Clearly we have missed him hugely and while I think it would be ludicrous to suggest that our bad run is down to his absence alone, it has certainly been a factor.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment

Shut it, Sorenson

Thomas Sorenson is developing into a very sad man. Okay, when Stoke play Villa, he is bound to be asked questions. But he is bleating on about his treatment last season yet again.

You know what? If I was an international goalkeeper and found myself third in line behind Scott Carson and Stuart Taylor, I might be a bit miffed too. But honestly, Thomas Sorenson is not good enough for the level Villa want to be at, and had to go. Maybe it happened twelve months too soon, but I would still argue that point in all honesty, as Carson was very good for Villa until THAT night he represented England against Croatia.

In his latest outburst, he said:

“If I just sat down and cried I wouldn’t be where I am today. My main aim was to look ahead…”

“The mission isn’t over. It has been about proving my ability and helping the team. I haven’t shaken Martin O’Neill’s hand since I left and I don’t think I will again. That is behind me now. I am just happy to be playing again…”

“I am happy to have proven a point but I won’t have proven the big point until we are safe.” (source: Goal.com)

Well first of all, I don’t think he has proved any point. Secondly, why even bring Martin O’Neill into a conversation about Stoke City vs Newcastle United?

How very sad and pathetic.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manchester United Preview

So tomorrow we head to Old Trafford. A difficult fixture for anyone, and traditionally appears to be more difficult for us than just about everyone else. We have an absolutely horrendous record there, and against them generally.

I don’t see this changing tomorrow.

I want it to, of course I do, I’m a Villa fan! But I just think that they are not going to lose three games on the spin. So what are the factors?

History – that is against us, clearly! We have not won there since 1983, we have not beaten them in the league since 1995 and we have not beaten them at all since 1999.

Quality – despite having Liverpool done the double over them, I still believe that Man U are the best team in the country. Gerrard and Torres are two exceptional players that would get into any team in the world; I believe if you stuck them in the Villa team then we’d be a lot closer to 1st, let alone 4th. But for overall quality, United are exceptional.

Form – Manchester United have lost their last two games. Can we make it three? I highly doubt it. It would have been difficult enough without that. It’s strange, against most teams, you would look at them losing two on the spin and see it as hope. Against a team like Man U, it seems to make our task even harder.

So is there any hope? Well, our streak-without-a-win will surely end soon, but that is more likely to be at home to Everton. What does give us reason to feel encouraged is that they have Vidic, Scholes and Rooney suspended, with Berbatov (and possibly Rio Ferdinand) injured. In addition, Carlos Tevez is likely to be feeling less than his freshest having travelled back ‘from Mars’ as Sir Alex Ferguson put it; it’s a shame the game isn’t today really! It is also a shame that Christiano Ronaldo was not sent off against Fulham – he certainly should have been.

Therefore it could be worse. But I still expect tradition to be maintained. To be honest, we may have 8 games left, but as far as I am concerned tomorrow is a write-off. Jeez, I hope no-one on the Villa staff is as defeatist as me!

From our point of view, Martin O’Neill has discussed the possibility of reverting back to 4-5-1. I would like to see that. With Emile Heskey out, he may look to Gabriel Agbonlahor, but if he plays with one up top then I would like to see him stay with John Carew. He could still play Gabby out wide, and shove James Milner or Ashley Young into a more central role, but I think he may go with Nigel Reo-Coker or Steve Sidwell. NRC is likely to play whatever happens, as he may well play at right-back again; in all fairness, I thought he was exceptional there in the return fixture at Villa Park. As Wilfred Bouma is unlikey to return in this fixture and Nicky Shorey continues to be left in the wilderness, Luke Young is likely to remain at left-back, meaning that if NRC does play in midfield, then Carlos Cuellar will play at right-back and Zat Knight will return to partner Curtis Davies. Complicated stuff, eh!

Prediction: 2-0.

April 4, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heskey out of United game

After limping off after just 15 minutes of the England game on Saturday, I think most of us knew that Emile Heskey would not be available for the game at Old Trafford and, sure enough, he will miss out. According to the official site, Martin O’Neill believes he could be out for up to two weeks, which would also rule him out of Everton and possibly West Ham.

As I have said many times though, I would rather we looked to play 4-5-1/4-3-3 and as Carew is in the better form, I wouldn’t have started with Heskey anyway. That is not to say that MON would not though, as I said the same thing prior to the Liverpool game.

Mind you, given our record against Manchester United, especially at Old Trafford, and the fact that they have lost their last two games means we would probably need to play 5-5-5 just to get a result!

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , | Leave a comment