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!
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Ah what a nice quiet day. Thankfully the madness of transfer windows is over for at least a few months, meaning we can actually concentrate on the football, rather than getting too caught up in who we may, or more likely may not, bring to Villa Park. With that in mind, here is a quick look at our newest arrivals with an Up the Villa rating to boot.
Here we go.
Shay Given (£3.5 million): 9/10 – I wasn’t too keen, but am delighted to have been proven wrong as Shay Given has been a revelation since making the move to the Villa. He has renewed enthusiasm for the game, and is looking as solid as ever. His communication is a joy to watch, and our defence looks a lot more solid with him in goal. A great shot stopper, and the fact we’ve conceded only the one goal in the league to date, tells you everything you need to know.
Charles N’Zogbia (£9.5 million): 7.5/10 – While he has yet to really show the form that was a big reason that Wigan stayed in the Premiership, I still have little doubt that he will be a great player for Villa for years to come. He was brought for half the prize of a certain Mr Downing, and that is terrific business on our part. Still in his mid-twenties, when he gets up to speed, we will have one hell of a player on our hands.
Enda Stevens (£250,000): 5/10 – I like many other Villans, was left wondering ‘Who?’ upon the news that we were to sign young Irish left back Enda Stevens. I haven’t seen him play, but look forward to seeing him in action for Shamrock Rovers in their Europa League campaign before he joins the Villa in January. A relatively no-lose signing, from what I’ve read he seems highly rated by those who have seen him play. I love moves like this, and the Irish league has of course produced a number of world class players (Paul McGrath anyone). Looking forward to seeing him in action.
Alan Hutton (£3 million): 7/10 – In my opinion a great bit of business by our club. He’s 6 years younger than Luke Young, cost around a million more but will probably be on less wages. What’s not to like? Very well known by our manager, Hutton was reportedly extremely keen to join the Villa revolution. A solid defender who gets forward well, could prove to be a very shrewd acquisition.
Jermaine Jenas (Season long loan): 8/10 – He has his detractors, but I have a feeling this could be a brilliant move for Aston Villa. He has over twenty caps for England and I don’t care who you are, who have to have something about you to play so many times for your country. He’s hungry, has a point to prove and is a box to box midfielder who could prove to be a valuable addition to our squad. It be interesting to see if he takes his place in the starting 11 immediately, but I think by the end of the season we’ll all be happy with his impact.
So there we have it. As always let us know what you think by getting involved either here, or on our Facebook and twitter pages (links above)!
So far today we’ve seen the usual amount of Villa transfer madness.
Here is an update:
It looks like young Irish left-back Enda Stevens has all but confirmed his proposed move to Villa, and will be joining in January after Shamrock’s Europa League campaign.
We were apparently in talks with Joe Cole, but he has completed his year long loan move to Lille.
Still looking likely that the Hutton move will be completed at some point today.
The latest link is with Jermaine Jenas, with Sky Sports News (SSN) reporting that we’ve made enquiries for the England midfielder.
Latest update is that Villa and Tottenham are discussing a loan move for Jenas.
Despite reports linking Fulham with a move for Hutton, the Birmingham’s Mail Mat Kendrick understands that the player is en route to Bodymoor Heath for a medical. Talk emerging of Jenas to Stoke.
It has been confirmed that Villa have completed the signing of the aforementioned Edna Stevens and he will join the club in January.
Hutton fee has reportedly been agreed and a medical is close. Jenas deal edging towards being completed as well.
Still waiting for an update on Hutton and Jenas. It is understood we have a 6% sell on fee for Gary Cahill should he move to Tottenham or another club.
After a quick break from reading football to play it, come back to read official Villa announcement that Jenas and Hutton are undergoing medicals. It seems that these two will be the end of our transfer dealings and the latest news that Hutton has turned down Fulham surely means an announcement is inevitable.
And we’re done! Villa have completed the signing of Alan Hutton on a deal until 2015 and Jermaine Jenas has signed on a year long loan. Good deals in my opinion and we have a very promising young left back to come in in January.
There was a time when I used to love this time of the year, transfer deal following transfer deal, 12 hours sat watching Sky Sports News, constantly refreshing newsnow. This year though the usual excitement seems to be missing, and I can’t wait for the window to close.
I’m not sure if it’s depression at Villa’s lack of activity, other clubs buying players I would like or Man City being…. well Man City but I just want it to end!
With a little under 24 hours remaining of this transfer window, the general consensus is that Villa will look to bring in three new faces (feel free to prove me wrong Randy and Alex!) with two of those targets well known at this stage. One of those is Alan Hutton, who has been linked for a while and makes sense. He will only cost a bit more than the money we received for Luke Young, is six years younger and will be on less. He did go for £9 million when he made the move to Spurs, and is a good solid player who will do a good job for us.
The other is an unknown to the majority of fans and goes by the rather awesome name of Enda Stevens. He’s a young Irish left back currently playing for Shamrock Rovers and it looks like the move is more or less complete. Now this offers virtually no risk to Villa, and will offer good cover for Warnock when he arrives in January (it appears he is staying for Shamrock’s Europa League campaign). I’ve seen a lot of Villa fans dismiss him without probably seeing him in action. Those who have seem to rate him and if he does turn into a good player, then what a move by the Villa. Countless players have been plucked from lower leagues or Ireland (Paul McGrath + Roy Keane anyone) so let’s give him a chance.
I’m hoping the last player is a midfielder and with Makoun leaving we need to add another new face. Yes he hasn’t featured in the league this season but if we have an injury crisis like last season, things could get messy. A number of players have been linked, including ex Villa old boy Steven Davis this evening but the truth is it could be one of any number of players. McLeish may still yet pull out a wildcard like he did at the Blues, now that would be nice!
I just want it done, whoever we bring in great, let us move on, get behind the club and look to the future.
It was a struggle, but we got there in the end and the most important thing is that we find ourselves in the draw for the next round. We’ve all seen Villa fall victim to upsets previously, and there’s no denying it sucks. I was therefore pleased to see McLeish take the cup seriously and despite making eight changes, we put out a strong side. It appears that we’re placing more emphasis on the cups this season and that’s the way it should be. Only a few seasons ago we reached the final of this very competition and despite the tournament having plenty of detractors, there’s no doubt that winning it would be a huge boost to the fans and the club itself.
Focusing on the match and ultimately we did enough to see off the challenge of a spirited Hereford team. There were plenty of positives we can take from the match and the most important thing in my eyes, is that we kept the momentum rolling to continue our very encouraging start to the season. Habib Beye also earned his wages for once, and we kept another clean sheet. Eric Lichaj also grabbed his first goal for the Villa, and boy did he celebrate in style! It’s also refreshing to see how much it meant to him, and soon after the match he ‘tweeted’ the following:
‘Think I’m deaf now… Never heard my mom scream so loud and for so long after her son scored. Happy man ’
Now that’s what it’s all about and I love knowing that Lichaj, and the rest of the youngsters seem to have a genuine affinity for our football club. This is the best group we’ve had coming up in a long long time, and I’m so excited to see how they progress. Barry Bannan again ran the show yesterday (sorry Blackpool he’s not going anywhere) and looks like he’s going to play a big part this season, and Weimann and the Fonz also impressed when coming on. I would much rather give these players a go, than spend money on a player who may not necessarily be needed. Which brings me nicely on to my next point!
A number of sources have linked us with a move for Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson with a fee of £3.5 million mentioned. Now he’s only 23, and anyone coming up through the Old Trafford ranks must have something about them. For me though, I wouldn’t be too keen on bringing him in. I don’t think we need him and while the squad could do with one or two new faces, surely other areas are more of a priority? I think we could do with a defensive midfielder, not someone like Gibson who is more of an attacking option. Yes he has a great shot, but that is not reason enough to bring him in. The fact a lot of Man Utd fans don’t rate him says it all, and I would much rather us use our existing players than waste unnecessary money and wages on a player we don’t really need. The aforementioned Bannan is a much better option, and we still have players like Ireland and Makoun sitting on the bench.
So to finish, well done Villa for negotiating your way to the third round. On a night where a number of other Premiership sides were ‘upset’, it was important for us to progress, and to keep the positivity around the club before the top of the table clash against Wolves this Saturday!
As well as comfortably beating Blackburn this weekend, a number of stories surfaced about Jean Makoun, our enigmatic midfielder who seems to be polarising opinion at Villa Park. Despite only being a Villa player since January, there have been numerous posts suggesting that he may soon be departing, with Greek side Olympiakos heavily linked in a loan deal.
There can be no doubt that Makoun is a quality player, and you only have to look at his performance against Manchester United last season to see signs that he can make it in the Premiership, and can make an impact. It is worth pointing out though that he has only made seven appearances for the Villa, and taking away the display at Old Trafford, he has certainly struggled to adapt to top flight football in England.
This season has seen Makoun named on the bench for our opening two games, and not make it off it as he has remained an unused substitute. Indeed in our last game against Blackburn, McLeish chose to bring on Barry Bannan (who did his prospects no harm with a great cameo) leaving our Cameroonian international frustrated yet again. At the moment is appears he may be no higher than fourth in the pecking order for our central midfield, and with Petrov and Delph forming a very encouraging partnership, he may find chances limited in the upcoming months. I imagine Makoun, along with a few others will get a chance against Hereford this week in the Carling Cup, and an impressive performance might go some way to changing our managers opinion of him.
Even in the last 24 hours or so there have been conflicting stories regarding Makoun, and here is a little snippet to give you an idea. The Daily Mirror reported that Makoun could leave but despite the story seeming to not carry much weight, Mirror journalist James Nursey ‘tweeted’ a few direct (or so he says) quotes from Alex McLeish that would seem to suggest Makoun doesn’t have much hope of a future at the Villa.
‘Gents, about Makoun, I personally asked AM directly about JM (leaving Villa Park) and that was his response. AM clearly doesn’t rate Makoun. sorry’
‘The only way JM will stay is if no-one comes in for him. He’s lightweight, has not settled on or off pitch and AM clearly don’t rate him.’
This would make it seem like the player has little chance of success at the Villa, but in the last few hours the player himself has spoken of his desire to stay a Villan for the foreseeable future.
‘I want to start games, the new manager has come in and I need to impress him. I want to fight and prove myself in the best league in the world – I love English football.’
So is he staying or going? Personally speaking I’d like him to stay, we saw last year the massive impact multiple injuries can have. His quality is not in question, and he’s played regularly in the Champions League. I can’t see him going without someone else coming in, and we’ve been linked with a number of midfield players in recent times. Scott Parker is the link that won’t go away and while I’d be loathe to spend anywhere north of £5 million on him, there can be no doubting his qualities as a footballer. A newer link is to Celtic’s Israeli internation, Beram Kayal. He does look like he can play, but we’ve been burned before on players coming to the Premiership from Scotland.
With the transfer window shutting soon we should get our answer. As I’ve said personally speaking I would keep him here, he hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do and his knitwear is a constant source of amusement.
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The start of the football season is always special with the first home game of the season usually an exciting occasion. In a pretty eventful summer, even by Villa standards, it will be nice to finally focus on what really matters….the football.
Blackburn are the visitors and while the fixture itself is pretty uninspiring (with us playing then 232 times in the last few seasons) it could have been a lot worse and does at least offer us a good chance of securing a victory. Indeed we last faced Blackburn only a few weeks ago and came out on top, a typical poachers effort from Darren Bent the catalyst for victory. Yes it was ‘only’ a preseason game but anyone who watched it would have seen it was far more similar to a premiership encounter, and this will hopefully be a good omen for us. In other recent matches against Rovers, we’ve also fared well and I sincerely hope that this good record continues tomorrow. Blackburn didn’t have the best of starts with losing to Wolves so will certainly be keen (pardon the pun) to secure a much needed positive result.
How we line up will be interesting. After securing a valuable point in our opening game at Fulham, I’m hoping Mr Shay Given (who has been passed fit) has a far more quiet afternoon tomorrow. Despite starting the match with three strikers, we didn’t really create much and we will need to provide our main man Darren Bent with a lot better service. I don’t expect too many changes with regards to personnel but I do expect us to be a lot more attacking. Charles N’Zogbia will have had another week of much needed physical training, and I expect us to offer much more of a threat. Alex McLeish is not stupid, and after his controversial appointment, he won’t play negative tactics at home. I think we may surprise a few people this season and if we can continue the attacking football that Gerard Houllier was beginning to implement with some much needed defensive stability, then the majority of fans will be happy with that.
Sticking with McLeish, and after a good reception last week at Fulham, I hope that this continues tomorrow and the fans get firmly behind the manager and the team. Booing, banners and the like don’t help anyone and even if you’re still not convinced by our new man in charge then don’t let it effect your support of the team. There is nothing any of us can do about it now, Alex McLeish is our manager, so let’s get behind him. He’s made an extremely brave decision in replacing Houllier and is already saying the right things with regards to the supporters:
“I’m looking forward to walking along the track, taking my place in the dugout and seeing the team kick-off, hopefully to victory.
“Ever since I moved across the city, there’s obviously been a lot of controversy.
“The first event was away in Hong Kong, the next one was the away game at Fulham and now it’s the home game against Blackburn.
“But that’s what you have to do in life. When you get a challenge, you’ve got to confront it.
“Don’t shirk away from it. You’ve got to front every one of these challenges head on.
“It would be great to think that you just turn up on the pitch and the fans give you full backing from start to finish, but we know that we have to excite them.
“We have to get them up on their feet, getting right behind the players, intimidating the opposition, making them feel a little bit apprehensive about their task of coming to Villa Park.
“So these are all important ingredients so that the fans can do their bit.”
In the midst of these quotes is the following; ‘When you get a challenge, you’ve got to confront it’ and there can be no doubt he has. It seems almost surreal to think back a few months but the level of hostility towards McLeish was incredible. 20,000 or so people joined a ‘We don’t want McLeish’ page on Facebook, there were protests at Villa Park and I lost count of the supporters who said they wouldn’t have anything to do with the Villa when he was in charge. It will be interesting to see what these fans think now, as to date, McLeish has done a fine job in his tenure as Villa boss. We kept a clean sheet away from home in the Premiership, a feat not managed since April 2010 in his first game. We’ve also seen Villa make two purchases that could prove to be inspired. Given is already looking like a steal at £3.5 million, and when N’Zogbia is up to full speed, we’ll have one of the most exciting players in the league wearing a Villa top. What’s not to like?
Finishing off now and I’m hoping that we secure the three points tomorrow afternoon, to continue the positive start to the season. I won’t make a prediction (naturally due to not wanting to jinx the team) but I hope that come 5pm tomorrow, Blackburn have even more reason to hate playing us. The club needs the win, the fans need the win and so does Alex McLeish. Let’s get behind the team, the manager and make Villa Park the fortress it should be.
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We got there in the end. After yet another drawn out transfer Villa finally got their man as Charles N’Zogbia signed a five year deal at Villa park.
We all knew he was coming and I was still crazy excited when the move was confirmed. This has the potential to be a terrific signing for us and to be able to bring him in for less than half the amount we sold Downing for is terrific business by the Villa. He’s direct and his dribbling capabilities have been well documented after the guys at Opta revealed that only Lionel Messi had attempted more dribbles in the top five European leagues this past season. While he may lack the crossing nous of some of our previous wingers, he is better at beating his man, and offers more of a goal threat. We have more of a ‘classic’ winger in Marc Albrighton, and I think the two of them have the potential to cause havoc next season for opposition defenders.
N’Zogbia has a reputation for trouble and pouting, largely due to the infamous ‘insomnia’ incident at Newcastle but I don’t think that will be a problem at Villa. He’s already saying the right things, and has composed various ‘tweets’ expressing his delight at joining us.
‘I’m so delighted, a special day for me, looking forward to meet my team mate and play for Villa ☺’
The smiley face says it all! I’m sure we’ll write more on N’Zogbia as the season unfolds but for now let’s enjoy the moment and what has the potential to be a top class signing. There is talk he may make his debut against Derby in the week and I can’t wait to see him in action.
Welcome to a great club Charles.
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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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