A lot of us Villa fans don’t like Stewart Downing, and with good reason. You can’t say things like this….
“Yes, I am happy here, there is speculation that players are going to clubs all the time but I am happy here. A lot of faith went into me when I was injured, I want to do well because the club put a lot of faith in me”
and insinuate that you’d stay at the club even if we were relegated and then just walk out on us and expect us to be okay with it.
Therefore there might have been some who were perhaps slightly uneasy seeing another one of our star players pledge his future to the club. When that player is Gabriel Agbonlahor though, a Villa man through and through, I think his words carry a little more weight. In this most quiet of transfer windows, it’s great to have something positive to read, as I can’t see us shocking the world and making a Bent style transfer any time soon.
Here’s what he had to say in a story that appeared in the Independent:
“I think other clubs know how much I love playing for Villa. I don’t think there’s ever been a bid for me.
“They know this is a club I want to stay at and it’s somewhere it would be hard to get me to leave.
“It’s the same at other clubs who have players who are that club through and through – like Steven Gerrard at Liverpool.
“They don’t put bids in for us because they know we won’t leave.”
Isn’t that nice?! I’d love Gabby to remain a one man club, and you only have to look at how he performs for us to know that he has a fan like affinity for all things Aston Villa. I think Gerrard was actually close to joining Chelsea at one point, but you get the jist of what he’s saying, and it would be a surprise if he went on to play for anybody else.
He is a Villa man, and it’s been great to see him back near his best after a couple of stop start campaigns. With Gabby and a lot of the younger lads you can see that they love playing for this club, and that always provides a reason to stay optimistic. We’ve got one of the best academies in Europe (and by the way, unlucky to the boys last night) and as I’ve mentioned previously I think overall, this is the best group of young players I’ve seen come through.
Ultimately I’d love to see him playing back as a striker, though he had been very impressive on the left this season and has made massive progress as a player since making his début. He has the talent to play for his country and become one of the more feared strikers in the league.
Hopefully as he suggests that will be with the Villa.
In a pretty good initiative on Villa’s part, fans are now given the chance to vote on the man of the match after every game, with the overall winner (highest point accumulator) being named player of the month. Anything that get’s the fans involved is a good thing and this has resulted in Mr Gabriel Agbonlahor being named our player of the month for August.
After each match, the player with the most votes is awarded three points, with two for second and one for third. Our top five is as follows this month, with Agbonlahor taking the crown after receiving more individual votes than Fabian Delph in second.
1st: Gabriel Agbonlahor (4 pts)
2nd: Fabian Delph (4 pts)
3rd: Shay Given (3 pts)
4th: Chris Herd (3 pts)
5th: Barry Bannan (3 pts)
Agbonlahor earned four points from finishing second against Blackburn and Wolves while Delph finished third against Fulham and first against Blackburn.
It seems that our fans can read a game pretty well as Given won the Fulham vote, Herd won it for Wolves while Bannan was first against Hereford. All correct decisions in my opinion.
For me personally the player of the month would have been between Agbonlahor or Given, with Given just about pinching it if I was pushed. They’ve both started the season in fine form though, and that’s all that really matters.
Agbonlahor seems to have recaptured the form which makes him so dangerous, and even though I still would ultimately like to see him as a striker, he’s looked very impressive playing on the left hand side. He’s already popped up with two important goals, and his celebration against Everton tells you everything you need to know about how much the Villa and it’s fans means to the player, great to see.
Fabian Delph has the makings of a top player, and it’s great to see him getting more game time as he looks to develop into the player we all hope he can be. After a hugely impressive start to the season, his performances have slightly tailed off in the last couple of games. Still, the potential is there for all to see, and at 21 he has plenty of time to develop into a top top player. At times he seems to be trying too hard, and this does on occasion cost us, as shown when conceding a needless penalty against Everton. There is plenty more to come though from this exciting young talent.
Given has been somewhat of a revelation, and already a candidate for ‘signing of the season’. He clearly needed to be playing, and it’s great that he is for our football club. He was sensational against Fulham, and has performed well in just about every game to date. We’ve always been aware of his goalkeeping qualities but what I love seeing is how he seems to be inspiring the rest of the defence to up their games. Collins and Dunne look like the players of a couple of seasons ago, with Dunne in particular excelling with his International team-mate behind him. A brilliant bit of business on our part.
Chris Herd has only played the one premiership game this season, but what a performance it was. He was sensational against Wolves, and kept an England winger (Matt Jarvis) extremely quiet, eventually resulting in his substitution. Phenomenal in the air, strong in the tackle and has a terrific attitude to the game. He almost knocked himself out in the aforementioned game, after colliding with a post yet stayed on the pitch and was correctly awarded Man of the Match. Like many of the youngsters, he has a genuine affinity with our club and plays like a fan, always giving 110%. Expect more from this versatile young star.
And finally we finish with Barry Bannan, who you get the feeling is on the brink of something very special. Us fans have been aware of his talents for a while, and on the occasions he has played this season, he has looked a star in waiting. Blessed with an otherworldly left foot, he also has a football brain that belies his young age. He was awarded man of the match for the Carling Cup game against Hereford, and you feel this may be the first of many. He has shone for Scotland this season, has impressed when coming off the bench for us and you feel a starting role is just around the corner, perhaps this weekend against Newcastle. Like Herd he has a genuine connection for the club, and I’m incredibly excited to see what he can achieve this upcoming season.
So how about you? Let us know who your player of the month is for August by getting in touch either here in the comments section, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages (links above).
Let’s face it, after the first 45 minutes yesterday we all would have taken a point, and over 24 hours after the final whistle blew, I’m still delighted with the spirit and character shown by our Villans to come back not once, but twice. This was NEVER going to be the easy game that a lot of people seemed to think it would be. Regardless of the problems Everton are going through they are still a more than decent side, with Internationals throughout the starting eleven. I would have been happy before the match with a point, and after the way we fought for a hard earned draw, I was delighted after.
While the first half was disappointing, I was amazed to see the reaction of some Villa ‘fans’ when we went one nil down. I always try to be positive with regards to the Villa, but when we do play badly (like the first 45 mins yesterday) I’d rather discuss it sensibly than begin criticising everything to do with our great club. Comments like ‘McLeish and Lerner out’ after 45 minutes of mediocrity do no-one any favours, and I’m genuinely worried how some will react when we do lose our first game this season. It seems some people can’t wait to get the knives out, but I’m sure the majority won’t overreact, and won’t think the world is ending. It’s all about the bigger picture and for me at least, McLeish has had a very promising start to the season.
Anyway enough of that! On to the players ratings after a battling point yesterday. As always feel free to get involved, and share your views (Twitter and Facebook links are at the top of the page).
Shay Given: 7 – I love seeing him in nets for us, and as mentioned a number of times this season his communication is a joy to watch. Made a couple of vital stops, and although he almost got caught out towards the end of the match, he made a great save in the last minute from an Everton corner. Could do nothing with either of the goals.
Alan Hutton: 5 – Not the best debut for the former Tottenham man, who looked off the pace throughout. Poor in possession, and Everton were successful with far too many attacks on the left side. He needs games and to build his match fitness but this wasn’t the best start for the Scottish international.
James Collins: 6.5 – The whole defence were found watching for Everton’s opener, but he grew into the match as the game went on. As always a beast in the air, and put his body on the line on more than one occasion.
Richard Dunne: 7 – After one of the best defensive performances in recent memory for his country in the week, Dunne continued his good form with an impressive performance. Looks more calmer with Given behind him, and is continuing to read the game extremely well.
Stephen Warnock: 5 – He’s started the season extremely well considering his issues last campaign. Poor game yesterday though, and he was beaten far too many times by Seamus Coleman. Poor in distribution, hoping for an improved performance next time out against Newcastle.
Fabian Delph: 5 – I’m a big fan of the player, but he needs to learn to tone it down at times, as he’s almost trying too hard. Neat and tidy at times, though our midfield was often dominated throughout the game. Gave away a needless penalty just as we were getting back into the match.
Stiliyan Petrov: 7 – As mentioned our midfield were overrun at times, though he tried his best to keep us possession and to allow us to get a foothold in the match. Stepped up when he had to with an absolute peach of a goal. The reaction of his fellow players tells you everything you need to know about the how much they respect him.
Charles N’Zogbia: 5 – Just waiting for him to really announce his arrival at the Villa, as he put in another poor performance yesterday. Showed some nice touches, but just not clicking for him yet. Was once again taken off in the second half.
Emile Heskey: 5 – No time for him to make an impact as he was withdrawn after 15 or so minutes with a hamstring strain. Disappointing after a promising start to the season.
Gabriel Agbonlahor: 7 – Quiet for the first half (along with the rest of the team) but looked much more threatening in the second half. A cracking run deserved more before he popped up towards the end of the match to rescue a point for us with a well taken header. His celebration showed just how much he loves the Villa and the fans.
Darren Bent: 5 – A poor display from our main man up front, who didn’t look quite right after his recent injury problems. Missed a good chance at the start of the second half, and while yet again the lack of service to him is a worry, he needs to make more of an impact. Saved us early on with a header off the line.
Barry Bannan: 7 – Replaced Heskey early on, and his enthusiasm for the game is great to see from a Villa viewpoint. Always wants the ball and tested Howard with a few efforts from distance. Needs to work on the defensive side of his game, and was extremely fortunate to not give away a penalty as he appeared to catch Baines in the second half.
Marc Albrighton: 7 – Came on when we were chasing the game, and did what he had to do, putting in a peach of a cross that Gabby couldn’t miss. Very encouraging cameo after a pretty disappointing start to the season.
Stephen Ireland: 6.5 – I was impressed with Ireland when he came on, and I’m hoping he uses this appearance to push on for the rest of the season. He wanted the ball, and made a number of cracking runs. Positive signs.
Man of the Match: It’s tough this week as there was no real stand-out performance. For stepping up yet again though, I’m going to award it to Agbonlahor, who has started this season in very good form.
Summary: After a first 45 minutes that were pretty diabolical, a draw at Everton is not to be sniffed at. We came back not one, but twice, and it’s great to see our Villans display such character. A cracking goal from our captain and Gabby once again stepped up when we needed him. We’re still unbeaten, and hopefully we’ll get the three points next week and that will represent a very promising start to the season.
Under 21 roundup, star would have quit had Houllier stayed, more links to an old boy and Bent update….busy day!
The encouraging start to the season continued last night as some of Villa’s young stars impressed while on under 21 duty with their respective countries.
Nathan Baker started for England U’21′s but his night was cruelly cut short as he suffered a knee injury just before half time. During the game he look composed on the ball, and spread it around nicely from his centre-back role. Could do nothing about the goal as Israel broke from a corner with Baker out of position after pushing forward for the set piece. No news yet on the extent of his injury but we wish him well.
Nathan Delfouneso and Gary Gardner both made appearances during the second half, coming on side by side with around twenty five minutes to play. Gardner was making his debut at this level and while he didn’t get many chances to show what he can do, he did spray a number of cracking balls out wide, and it is only a matter of time before he makes an impact at first team level. I thought the Fonz looked really sharp, and deserved his goal for his lively cameo. It came via the penalty spot, and despite a rather awkward stop, start, step back, run forward run-up, he still finished with aplomb, slotting the ball into the bottom corner. The game finished 4 – 1 to England and our young Villans should be proud at their performances.
Another young striker, Andreas Weimann, currently on loan at Watford scored a goal in Austria’s under 21 victory against their Greek counterparts as they won 3 2. This was in addition to the two he grabbed last Friday against Luxembourg. Not a bad few days! He’s very highly rated at the Villa and I would like to see him given a chance this season. The Championship is a very good league so the loan should stand him in good stead. Good luck for the rest of it!
As I write this Richard Dunne has just finished performing heroics in Russia, and has made a quite incredible goal-line stop which you need to see. Given was also sensational behind him and this can only bode well for the Villa, well in boys! In other Dunne news though, the defender has admitted that he would have ‘probably left had Houllier had stayed’. Now we all know about the infamous fall out last season, and his form was inconsistent at best last campaign. I don’t think it’s worthwhile talking about the past, and you can see from his performances already that Dunne, along with Collins are enjoying playing under the new manager. We’ve only conceded the one goal in three games, and I hope that this impressive form continues as the season progresses. A Richard Dunne playing at his best, can only be a good thing for the Villa. You can see the difference having Given behind him makes, and I hope we can get back to being the defensive force we were a few seasons ago.
The links to Villa old boy Steven Davis first came up towards the end of the transfer window, and now it appears as we were genuinely interested in the midfielder as McLeish has revealed the following:
“Steven Davis is a Rangers player. We asked about him, but we know how much he means to Rangers”
“We never pursued it because they made it clear he wasn’t for sale.”
I was a fan of Davis during his initial tenure at the Villa, and thought he performed well albeit in a very poor Villa side. Despite links to Man Utd he went on to Fulham where he did very little before shining in Scotland with Rangers. He does have talent, but for me we have too many similar players here, and I’d prefer to see the likes of Bannan/Ireland given a go before we wasted money and wages on a player we don’t really need. We’ve been burnt before on signing players from Scotland, and I fear we would again if we were to bring Davis back to our club.
Lastly today and a quick update from AMC who has said Bent is ‘touch and go’ to face Everton this weekend. Now this doesn’t sound too promising, and while I hope he makes it, if there is any doubt we’d be better letting him sit this one out, rather than run the risk of losing him for a longer period. If he is out then we have to find a way of creating, and taking our chances. I would like to see the aforementioned Delfouneso given a run-out, but I expect that Gabby would move up, with perhaps Jenas or Bannan taking his place on the left. Time will tell but we hope it’s nothing too serious!
As always, feel free to share your views on here, or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
We here at Up the Villa love seeing pictures of our beloved football team winning. With that in mind, we’re starting a new feature and will string together a collection of photos every time the Villa wins. We’re hoping we’re going to be busy this season. The first set of pictures features images from our first two victories of the season against Blackburn and Hereford.
You may have noticed the website has also been given a bit of a spruce-up and for that we’d like to thank Alex Currie (link on the right!) for all his hard work.
Please let us know what you think of our new feature, it was enjoyable putting it together, and we hope you like watching it!
While the preseason has been under-way for a few weeks now, it has seemed that Villa are just a step behind the majority of other teams. We were one of the last to return from the summer hols and one of the last to play a preseason friendly. It all kicks off tonight though with the obligatory trip to Walsall and I can’t wait, it’s been a long two months.
A very young side made the short trip to play Boldmere yesterday and despite losing 3-2, games like this are always beneficial in terms of fitness and experience. A few of the more familiar reserve stars were in action including Burke, Siegrist and Gardner before mass changes at half time. Graham Burke and Janoi Donacien were our goalscorers putting us 2-1 in front before Boldmere struck back in the second half. Unlucky boys and as I said the result in these circumstances do not matter too much. Hopefully it’s another step in the development for a number of these players, with Villa fans holding very high hopes for a couple of our young stars.
Perhaps Gary ‘the better’ Gardner is the young player that Villa fans are most excited about, and he went close yesterday with a screaming effort that cannoned back off the woodwork. One interesting development with regards to Gary, is that he was pulled out of the England U’20 squad for the world cup, supposedly by the club. Hopefully this means that the powers to be have earmarked him for a more prominent role in the first team squad and the fact he has been given a squad number seems to suggest as much. While there are obvious benefits to him staying here, I’m sure going away to a world cup, at whatever level can only be a good thing. Still I’m not going to complain too much, from a selfish Aston Villa viewpoint, it’s absolutely the best decision to keep him at the club for the important preseason period, and I can’t wait to see him in action.
Now on to the first team squad and as mentioned it’s that time of year when we make the short journey to Walsall for what is usually a fun evening out. The first friendly before the start of a new season is always a good occasion, and I hope the travelling fans get firmly behind the players and especially our new manager. I’m sure they will and I’m sure the Villa faithful will be out in their thousands.
We don’t have too many new signings to look forward too, but Given should start the game and I’m really excited to see him between the sticks for our great club. Hopefully a few of the youngsters are given a game and I’m intrigued to see what formation AMC goes for, especially with no recognised left winger at the club. Perhaps Bannan might fill in, or even Warnock if the need arises. I’m just hoping it’s not Gabby. McLeish has already said that he wants to use him as a striker and I hope he is, he needs to start this season knowing he is going to play in his preferred position and I think he could have a good season in a central role.
Tonight though I’m most excited/intrigued to see where Stephen Ireland plays. AMC has reportedly been hugely impressed with his performances in training and while I’m loathe to use clichés such as ‘he’s like a new signing for us’ the fact is a motivated Ireland is, and can be a massive asset for us. I was a huge fan of his before he signed and was delighted when he was part of the Milner deal. It all went a bit wrong for him last season but I have a feeling he’s going to turn it around this season. We desperately need goals from midfield, especially in light of the two recent departures and I think he can provide these. McLeish could be perfect for Ireland and I hope he realises how lucky he is to be at the Villa and gives it everything he has. Time will tell.
Good luck to the boys tonight and for all those attending I hope you have a cracking night out with the added bonus of a convincing Villa victory!
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As I mentioned in another post, now that we have won a few games, and should be safe, the dramatic news regarding Villa comes to an end. This time a month or so ago you couldn’t keep us out of the news. Whether it was talk of infighting within the club, speculation about our manager or which one of our superstars would be leaving, we were everywhere. I much prefer it like this.
For the news we do have, there are a few interesting bits around. Nigel Reo-Coker has suggested that the side are finally embracing our managers philosophies and hopes he is back to full health soon enough. Firstly we’d like to echo NRC’s sentiments and wish Gerard Houllier all the best.
Secondly I think our midfield battler is right and that at long last we are starting to play the way our manager wants us to. Yes he has had to resort to 4-4-2 to achieve positive results, but the way we are playing now is so refreshing to see, and that’s why I think our manager is finally winning over some of the fans. We are always looking for the ball, better in possession and some of our attacking play is a joy to behold. Even if we do bring in someone else this summer, I think that for all his detractors, Gerard Houllier has laid some solid foundations. Our young stars have played in some important games, and that can only stand them in good stead. I doubt players like Albrighton and Clark would have featured half as much if the previous manager was still in charge, and even if his work with the young players is all Mr Houllier leaves us with, I for one would be extremely grateful.
As for NRC himself I hope he sorts out his contract soon and ultimately stays at the club. I think he has improved dramatically this season, and if we want to move forward, it’s vital to have players of Reo-Coker’s ilk in the squad.
To finish off today’s slow news day, is good news regarding Gabby Agbonlahor. Despite a frustrating season, he has set himself some lofty ambitions, and fair play to him for doing so. He’s aiming to double his Villa appearances to at least 400, become Villa’s all time highest premiership goalscorer and someday become Villa captain.
“It would be nice to get the armband in a one-off game or to be the regular captain, but that’s not really on my mind at the moment – maybe one day in the future.”
Regardless of the merits to Gabby becoming a future captain, I love seeing stories like this. Here is a local boy, living his dream every week, and declaring how much he loves our great club.
“Being local helps and if you ask any of the lads that live locally they will never want to leave the club. That is me and Aston Villa.”
Fair play to you Gabs, reading the article really highlights how much he loves the club and despite a relatively unsuccessful season, I am sure soon enough he’ll be firing on all cylinders. If nothing else he has provided us with one of the highlights of the season with his recent winner against the Hammers.
Here’s a player who loves the club and wants to stay faithful to the Villa. I am sure a number of the other youngsters feel the same and this can only bode well in the future. Now if only all footballers had the same attitude.
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