Interesting article in the Express & Star with Martin O’Neill putting the blame on the fringe players for their lack of first team action last season.
It is rumoured, some very good rumours I would add, that there are some players who will be shipped out this summer and others are looking for assurances on their future before making decisions.
The obvious ‘six’ are Curtis Davies who missed a great deal of the season following shoulder surgery and basically got nowhere near returning to regular action after due to the form of Richard Dunne, James Collins and when used in the centre Carlos Cuellar.
Then we have Nigel Reo-Coker. The Hokey Cokey has had a disappointing time at Villa, rarely playing in ‘his’ position at the centre of midfield and always being the first to be substituted. The frustrations blew up this season with a ‘fight’ with the manager in training and then an injury which further set him back. He has since returned to the bench but not first team action. NRC has already said he’ll only leave if it suits him, if not he’ll stay and run down the last year of his contract.
Nicky Shorey. He just hasn’t fit in has he? He did seem to go from regular to ‘where is he’ very quickly so whether ‘something’ happened or not, I have no idea. He was in the end loaned out to Fulham where some reports say he will stay.
Steve Sidwell great debut goal away at Wigan then he just seemed to disappear (on the pitch). He simply has not shown anywhere near the form expected.
Luke Young. A total mystery. The start of the season saw him have compassionate leave following the tragic death of his brother and since his return he hardly featured with centre-back Carlos Cuellar preferred in the right back birth. Seems a shame as Carlos has often struggled for position at right-back, much like the great Olof Mellberg used to. However Luke just hasn’t had a look in. Again, no background knowledge as to whether something else is going on. It seems now from press reports, following a season warming the bench, that he is wanting to move back to London. Shame, he was amongst if not the player of the season in 2008/2009. He was cheered with almost every ball he touched when he came on in the last game of the season, so the manager might have other ideas but the fans certainly seem to like him. Thing is, it is only the managers opinions that matter!
And then there is Habib Beye who was brought in for cover from Newcastle United and has rarely featured at all.
Apparently all six would be allowed to leave if the right offers came in. Sidwell, NRC and Shorey are in the last year of their contracts so could just run those down and leave on a free next summer which will limit their price you would expect.
were informed this week that the club are ready to listen to offers for them, with the Villa boss needing to sell to raise most of his transfer funds for this summer.
MON told the paper that he can understand why the players aren’t happy, no player is when they aren’t playing regularly and admits some players will have to find other clubs, adding that is ‘natural’ at a football club.
‘Players, despite maybe a number of reassurances from a manager, will view the number of times they`ve played this season and say ‘listen, I could go and play elsewhere`. In terms of the slate being wiped clean, players don`t always see it.’
He suggests it is up to the players to take on the challenge and show the ‘determination’ to prove the manager wrong and get their first team place back.
‘It`s up to them to think: ‘I`ve got the ability, I`ve got the determination to do it and I`m going to get through and break into the team. If I`ve done my utmost and the manager still doesn`t pick me then I can consider myself really unlucky`. And on occasions that does happen, definitely.’
But adds, ‘But during the course of the season I don`t think you can always point to a spate of bad luck, particularly if you`ve been fit.’
I could see this argument with a few. Davies and Hokey-Cokey especially were out for a long time with injury and so have to be patient, they can’t just walk back into the team, although the history with NRC sort of argues he wouldn’t have played that much anyway?
With Beye, there isn’t much he can do, he’s not going to make the grade but then again, how many chances did he get?
Here is the difficulty, the reserve league isn’t good enough to prove whether they are worthy of a first team place, the gap in quality is massive and if rotation isn’t used, how can they prove to the manager that they are up for the fight?
With Luke Young, I’d love to see him line up next season, get a start and to show why he is the right man for the right-back birth. Has he had the signals from the manager that that could happen? Is he up for that challenge? Have bridges been burnt? No idea.
Same goes with Curtis Davies, it wasn’t the managers fault he had to have surgery, a good pre-season and he is then back in the mix to play isn’t he? Or is he? Only the manager and player really know.
Thing is, MON has to wheel and deal a little, if some players aren’t happy, they may as well move on if it suits both them and more importantly the club/manager price wise.
Should be a fascinating summer.
Now for more important matters. Sunday lunch, do I go roast beef and Yorkshire pud or have a nice bloody rare rump steak? Decisions, decisions.