Date: 18th July 2007 at 11:57am
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Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill has said he is planning on holding talks with Olof Mellberg in the near future regarding the defender’s future.

The 29-year-old Sweden international, who has been at Villa Park since 2001, has just one year left on his current deal and will be free to talk to other clubs in the January transfer window – if he hasn’t signed on the dotted line of a new contract by then.

O’Neill told the official site: “I intend to sit down and talk with Olof’s representatives very soon.”

However, as Villa continue to build for the future (the current worries surrounding yesterday’s signing of Marlon Harewood won’t affect anything) it could be argued that now is the time to bring in fresh blood to work alongside the old guard.

While few fans would want to see the former skipper given his marching orders, the upcoming contract negotiations do give Martin O’Neill the chance to consider whether Mellberg is worth keeping for the long-haul, or just a short-term answer.

We all know what Melly can do, we’ve seen him perform time and time again in the claret and blue, and we know he is a class player. But he turns 30 next season and, given our much-heralded five-year plan, perhaps the boss should be looking at players who will be able to perform at the highest possible level in a few seasons.

Contracts are puzzling things at the best of times, and football contracts seem to have more clauses than a Father Christmas convention, but could an offer not be made for a three-year deal that only guarantees regular first-team football for the first year?

Then, Melly would still be contracted to the club for a further two years but could be used as cover, or to work with the younger players who will be coming through to ensure they will be able to cope with the demands of Premiership football – and possibly Champions League football.

Some will think I’m being negative with regards to Melly, but we really must be forward thinking if we are to go forward. We all love certain players at the club, but at the same time we know that the current group of players can only go too far.

I am sure Martin O’Neill will also realise this – he’s the manager, thankfully – and when he decides whether to hand out fresh contracts or tell players they are not needed, or not needed as they have been, he will realise that where the club go in the next few years is far more important than we it has been in the past.

Mellberg is just one example, and there will be many other decisions to make over the upcoming few seasons. But if we are to get back to where we belong – the top of English and European football – then we need players who can perform in the future, not ones who have performed in the past.


10 Replies to “Villa’s Melly Good For Now, But…”

  • Couldnt agree more. Love Melly to bits but I always refer to how ruthless Alex Ferguson has been in the past when he thinks someone is best their best he ships them on, no questions asked (i.e. Japp Stam). Theres no room for sentiment when you aspire to be the best!

  • D’oh! That was supposed to say ‘past their best’ not ‘best their best’, damn front page with no edit facilty! 😉

  • The 5 year plan to get us into CL will inevitably mean bringing in new/younger faces and Olof is one of the older players that will have to eventually give way to reach this target. Hopefully we can keep him to help nurture through the youngsters, as our team is now full of them and experience is seriously lacking. Unfortunately for Mellberg he has been with Villa throughout a very poor period of managers but he has always been professional throughout and always given 100% to the Villa.

  • Re the length of the contract: I’m not sure it really matters how long his new contract is for, they don’t seem to be worth the paper they’re printed on these days anyway.

  • I know that Melly is one of our oldest but remember that CBs tend to continue at the top level longer than any other position except for goal keepers. A player of his class could, quite concievably be playing CL football at age 35. I know he’s not Paul McGrath but he’s the nearest we’ve had since then and look how long he carried on even with dodgey knees. Personally I’d like to see Melly continue at the club as long as he wants to, moving him over into a coaching role when he is no longer up to 1st team football. He is and always has been commited to the Villa and has shown a passion and flexibility towards the club that so called life time fans like Vassel have never shown. The guy is class and Claret and Blue to the core, we should be using this to our advantage not moving him of becase he’s not quite as quick as he once was. Most CBs have their best years between 30 and 32 as this position, more than any other outfield possition, is more dependant on a good footballing brain and the ability to read play than it is on physical prowes, just ask McGrath.

  • Deano, Stam left MUTD at the peak of his career, he waas no way past his best. Fergusson shipped him out because of inappropriate remarks made about team mates (or about him, I don’t fully remember) causing disharmoney at the club. I agree that this shows him as even more ruthless than you say but the fact remains that he was not sold for lack of form or quality.

  • Please sign up the Nordic Warrior asap – i love the man.I`ll say it again,1-0 @ the Blues and whistle blows – off goes the Bearded wonder,sprinting around the pitch with both arms aloft ! A true Villa legend.

  • Mc Grath, still god. Mellberg best apostle since god left. Sign him up and build around him. Never forgave O’Leary for dropping him at Portsmouth in his first match in favour of Judas Alpay (scum) UTV

  • Sooner or later all of our favourites hit the VP exit door for one reason or another, possibly past their best maybe, the opportunity to bring in a better player, or because they fall foul of the manager and/or his coaching staff. None of those categories apply to Olof, certainly not just yet. A new deal will surely be his reward for outstanding service to the claret and blues, although whether the actual length of any proposed deal will be to Olof’s liking is another matter.

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