Date: 26th September 2008 at 3:05pm
Written by:

Spoilt for Choice a Problem of its own

Its been a very rare event for Villa to be spoilt for choice under Martin O’Neill. Up until last summer, he removed more players than he brought in, I’d surmise, whether they were poor quality or not they were players available to be picked.

Now even after the big spend in some areas we remain woefully weak with cover, especially quality experienced cover, the one area that is overflowing is midfield.

Funny thing is, our manager is finding it hard to sort out who is played and where. I, despite, what others say, have always rated O’Neill as a manager based on his past experience, my one doubt has always been and still remains his ‘old fashioned’ approach as some nicely call it.

I have never felt he was the best man for the job Lerner had on offer, because I didn’t think initially, he was up to speed with the modern day PL. I still don’t although I’m more than willing to admit he’s caught up as each season has progressed, with a monumental change to his summer transfer activities, that perhaps proved money had not been a problem, just allocating it.

Now we have, thanks to some perverse summer events more than enough choices in midfield. In Young, Petrov, Barry, Reo Coker, and now Sidwell and Milner we have some decent options and alternatives both in players and tactics, and there seemingly lies our latest conundrum that O’Neill has yet to master.

I was always brought up to think you bought players to fit your systems, and only occasionally bought top players if they became available if they didn’t automatically fit into the present or planned system. Seems no longer is that the case, you see a player you feel is ideal for the club and get him if you can.

The result in our midfield is, it seems, Sidwell, and Milner are presently surplus to requirements, even if they are both fully fit. Which is one way is far from being a bad thing. I like both players but I could see better available and cheaper options we didn’t get, Shaun Wright-Phillips to name one.

I appreciate Petrov’s latest improvement has not helped, I’m not totally convinced he’s the ideal choice at centre midfield, but he’s doing the job well enough. Similarly Barry staying was a big plus for the team, but its created its own problem, O’Neill I feel doesn’t think he can be trusted in the more important positions, hence his new role. Then of course Reo Coker has improved even if he is stuck out on the right wing and O’Neill seems unable to develop an effective system that allows Coker, Petrov, Barry and Young to play behind a twin strike force.

For me Sidwell, if he ever gets fit and back up to speed has to be considered. Nothing I saw pre season said he was anywhere near the Sidwell that kept Reading afloat before he joined Chelsea, but he is the ideal holding player. Similarly, Milner who I rate as a player but not as a player for Villa, is the natural right sided player many have been crying out for for ages, so he should get that position. Especially as that position has always been for me the O’Neill punishment position, out of form or players who have upset him usually get it for a game or two, because there were not alternatives.

Well now there is, and as yet O’Neill hasn’t been able to make the decision on what to do. Not that I’m suggesting alternatives, I don’t get paid to pick the side or choose how to spend Lerner’s cash.

All I would say, is, had I done what O’Neill did in the summer, and I wouldn’t have if you get my meaning, Milner would have started wide right, Petrov would be on the bench, Barry would be holding midfield and Coker would be alongside him.

Then when Sidwell did get fit, it would be between him and Barry and Coker as to who gets picked. Then it would be down to Milner to prove he’s worth 12 million and if not Petrov gets his place. Its where he played his best game for us at West Ham so its a viable position for him.

Yes its time for Mart to make a few hard decisions, mind knowing Villa the minute he does, something will go awry

By avfc48