Date: 9th December 2007 at 12:13pm
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There’s a lot of talent in the current Villa side, but what we appear to lack is a player with that touch of class which separates the best from the rest. An impact player who can create something from nothing, change a game – or win it – with that little bit of magic.

Portsmouth had such a player in Sully Muntari – a player was single-handedly able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and deliver with two moments of brilliance which were more than enough to take the points back to Fratton Park. In a tough game, he proved to be the real difference between the two teams.

A number of Premiership teams down the years have had such a player – Eric Cantona, David Ginola, Dennis Bergkamp, Paulo Di Canio were all talismanic players in their time, set apart from the rest by providing moments of sheer genius which live in the memory long after the game, or even their career. Modern equivalents would be Fabregas, Ronaldo, Arteta and their ilk, and the closest English players would probably be Rooney and Gerrard – even when their team is not playing at their best, these players are potential match winners.

And a player like that appears to be something we lack.

There’s a lot of talented young players at Villa Park at the moment. Can’t fault them for effort, but how many of them have the arrogance, the self belief, the genius to risk trying something different, to think outside the box, to unlock our opposition’s defence with a moment of magic when we need it? When was the last time we had such a player? Paul Merson’s quality was plain to see, but he was past his best when he joined us. Benni Carbone was a little trickster who was also unfortunately a little short on long-term commitment (to say he liked a regular signing on fee would be an understatement, especially from Bradford’s point of view). Dwight Yorke was the hero of Brian Little’s reign.. and the villain of John Gregory’s tenure. But in recent years we haven’t had a player with their intelligence, touch, creativity or vision. And they’re not easy to come by either.

But that’s what set us apart from Portsmouth today – they had a player who could seize the initative and the three points; we had an honest bunch of lads.