Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday January 4 2007
I'm slightly mystified this morning, in fact I'm slightly mystified most of my life, however this mystification is over the enigma that is Milan Baros.
I can't understand why he hasn't been given a run in the team. This player, although frustrating, seems a quality striker to me and his goal record for the Czech Republic and the fact he won the golden boot in the European Championships also suggests he isn't half bad! He is also still young at the age of 25 he has yet to reach his peak.
This season he has struggled, he picked up an injury in training before the World Cup and that delayed his start for Villa and he missed pre-season. Since then he hasn't exactly looked on fire has he? Well, no, but has he had a run? Can you say he has had a chance this year after being our top scorer last year? He scored a good goal against Sheffield United recently as he broke through their defence due to a decent pass. What then? I can't remember whether it was the next game or the one after but he was back on the bench. How will that breed confidence?
Now I'm not knocking Gabriel Agbonlahor, he is a quality prospect who could become an absolutely awesome player for us and to be fair he has been played out wide a lot this season BUT Gabby has played ever minute of every game and at the moment he looks shattered. His return for the 22 games? 3 Premiership goals. Again, before the moral indignation starts, I'm not criticising Gabby at all, he has been thrown in at the deep end and is doing a job, however should an international class striker spend most of his time warming the bench when Villa so desperately need goals? Personally I think not. Before we offload players, should we give them a chance?
The proviso to this is none of us know what these players are like in training, it could well be that his attitude is wrong or that the effort isn't put in, we can't judge that though, only what we see. I remember speaking with an ex manager about Bosko Balaban and he explained that his attitude in training 'left a lot to be desired' which explained why he didn't get the break through into the first team.
I digress.......! Villa have played 22 games and have a goal difference of -2. We've scored 23 goals, 8 of which have come from Gareth Barry. (Angel 4, Gabby 3, Moore 2, Petrov 1, Baros 1, McCann 1, Mellberg 1, Ridgewell 1, Sutton 1).
So are we not screaming out for goals? Isn't finishing the main problem of this season when some games we've dominated but not been able to put the chances away - or indeed make the chances? It is so obvious from those goalscoring stats that we need goalscorers, not just strikers but also midfielders to contribute + a playmaker to set up the chances.
It has to be said that the service is also rubbish for all our strikers, even Ruud van Nistelrooy in his pomp might have struggled to score and unfortunately at the moment our new signing, Stiliyan Petrov, who is meant to be the playmaker, hasn't settled into the league and is simply not contributing, not consistently anyway.
O'Neill has cast doubts over the 25-year-old strikers future and you have to question the timing of these quotes as they look like 'this player might be available' to me!
O'Neill said: 'I wouldn't be sure if he wanted to stay. If a striker is not scoring goals then he is going to ask himself some questions. He is still trying to find the form that earned him a move to Liverpool and won him the golden boot. He scored against Sheffield United and like everyone else goals give boosts of confidence.'
Adding, 'Milan has started a fair few games for us and when he hasn't started he has been on the bench. But ultimately it is up to players - I don't have a magic wand to bring the best out of people.'
Well, to be fair to Baros, he hasn't really started 'a fair few games' he has started 8 premiership games. He has been on the bench for 11 and came on in 7, most of the time (unless I am very much mistaken) towards the end of a game. He has also been replaced five times. In total he has 704 mins of football under his belt this season.
Compare that to Gabby on 1980 mins and 3 goals + Juan Pablo Angel, 1691 mins.
(Angel, 17 starts, 5 on the bench, 4 coming off and replaced 8 times)
Not really a fair run I'd say?
I also wonder about the quotes 'I don't have a magic wand'? Man management is surely one of the main components of a managers job? I don't see how it would need a magic wand, just a fair chance to a quality player? Comments like that will only serve to wind up and de-motivate the player even more surely?
Villa can't keep doing this, lets hope with the new owners and a new manager who will hopefully be with us for years, we'll get a settled squad and stop buying top priced players and then allowing them to leave for a reduced price when another manager comes in. Baros joined us from Liverpool in 2005 for £6.5million. He scored 12 goals in 29 games last season and looked like he was building into a top player, his injury has set him back but has his lack of chances since not set him back even more? His body language on the bench speaks volumes, he must be wondering what the f*** he is doing there when the team can't score for love or money unless we get awarded a penalty which luckily this season, we have in droves (10 I think?)
Baros certainly seems to split opinions with the fans, what do you think? Our latest poll asks your view.
Date:Thursday January 4 2007
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