Not even a resurgent Gabby Agbonlahor can stave off mid table mediocrity and growing unrest for Aston Villa. Will McLeish be next the next Premier League manager to be handed his P45?
What’s going right?
Gabby Agbonlahor has been pretty much the only bright spark of a very dull season so far. He’s regained his form and is back in the goals and is one of the only players who looks like he actually cares.
Where do we start? While we may look comfortable in mid-table in terms of position, we’re only a couple of bad results away from being dragged into a nervous relegation battle. We should have enough to stay away from that, but there’s no creativity in the side, it’s hard to see where the goals are coming from without relying on Agbonlahor’s pace, Darren Bent looks like a passenger with his supply line virtually dried up and Charles N’Zogbia looks a shadow of the player he was at Wigan and a long way off being able to fill the huge voids left by the departures of Young and Downing.
Got the right manager?
I don’t think there’s anything that could be said on this subject that hasn’t been said already. Nothing has happened so far to suggest that the Villa fans were wrong to oppose the appointment of Alex McLeish in the summer. He’s not a dislikable character but his brand of football so far has been insipid and it’s not difficult to see why his old team down the road averaged less than a goal a game last year. It’s not just his Birmingham City connections that made him a unfathomable choice to take over, but the fact that his Premier League record amounts to getting relegated twice. Despite apparently being a great motivator, most of our team has looked worryingly lacking in fight and while for the most part fans have been restrained in turning on the manager so far, there is no passion on the terraces to really get behind him and what he’s trying to achieve. Without the financial resources to compete with the current big boys, a club like Villa needs everyone pulling in the right direction and something to believe in to be able to push on to the next level but unfortunately the managerial appointment has just cause disunity and a whole heap of apathy, which seems to be seeping through onto the pitch. For all of Martin O’Neill’s tactical faults and errors in the transfer market, one thing he did bring was optimism and he was fantastic at instilling hope among supporters. The difference in atmosphere at the club now compared to when he was in charge is astounding.
He’s not a dislikable character but his brand of football so far has been insipid and it’s not difficult to see why his old team down the road averaged less than a goal a game last year
As mentioned above, Agbonlahor has been our most dangerous asset by a long stretch. Shay Given looks a solid acquisition, as expected, while Barry Bannan has showed flashes of what he is capable of, but unfortunately has been marred by off-field problems and inconsistency.
Who would you like to sell in January?
Plenty of fans will be hoping Martin O’Neill returns to take Emile Heskey off our hands, although with our wafer thin squad it is dangerous to let anyone go at this stage. To be fair to Heskey, he still has his uses but too many fans consider him a laughing stock these days and his career has never really taken off at Villa Park. Alan Hutton continues to do a good impression of a mindless thug shoved to full-back for a Sunday pub team, but finding anyone to take him would be something of a Christmas miracle.
Who do you want to sign?
It’s difficult to see where we will get anyone who can really improve things. Most Villa fans would crawl to Manchester on their hands and knees to carry James Milner back on loan, but that one isn’t going to happen. David Villa was laughably linked with a move to B6, but even with a broken leg I think we can safely rule that one out, but a striker who can create something as well as finish would be a good addition, but who isn’t looking for one of those? Pinching Shane Long from neighbours West Brom would be a shrewd move, but again an unlikely one, while anyone with a right foot who can slot in at right back would be a bonus. It would be nice to see us surprise everyone with a signing who can lift the whole place, a star name such as Thierry Henry on loan would bring the buzz back to Villa Park, even if he is well past his best. Bobby Zamora has been linked, and while he wouldn’t exactly get the fans excited or bang the goals in, he would still be a useful addition and is a more realistic target for where we are at the moment unfortunately.
Best chant so far?
Unfortunately there’s not been much to sing about this year, so inspirational new chants have been somewhat lacking. The travelling faithful has been as good value as ever, but Villa Park has been painfully quiet this term. “If Heskey scores, we’re on the p***,” seems to sum up the flippant feeling towards what’s happening on the pitch.
Whoever came up with the bright idea that Alex McLeish would be anything but a poor appointment deserves a stern talking to.
Best opposition player/team you’ve seen?
As painful as it is to admit, Manchester City look a cut above this season. It’s frustrating considering where they were a few years ago and just goes to show that money talks in this game. But they have assembled a very talented squad and after taking a lead looked like they could score at a canter when we travelled to the Etihad. Balotelli delivered against us, but David Silva looked different class as well.
Biggest **** of the season so far?
Whoever came up with the bright idea that Alex McLeish would be anything but a poor appointment deserves a stern talking to. Away from Villa, Kenny Dalgish’s miserable face and ‘I’m so much better than you’ drone when he talks is just plain irritating.
End of season prediction?
While we’re often annoyingly dismissed as a mid-table club, the number of times we have actually finished in mid-table is not actually that many. This year though, mid-table obscurity would be something of an achievement as there is still a danger that we will go into freefall and get dragged into the scrap at the bottom. And judging by McLeish’s inability to rally his Bluenose troops last year when it mattered, that could be a very dangerous situation indeed. I think we’ll have enough to get the points when it matters against the teams who are down there, which should leave us safely in the top half.
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