Aston Villa - Right Back Is Not A Priority
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Right Back Is Not A Priority

Speaking to the Express and Star today, Martin O'Neill explained that although not ideal, he would be happy to go the rest of the season without a recognised right back.

Whether this is because he has so far failed in his searches, or he sees it as less of a proirity because of Mellberg and Gardner I don't know, but it's certainly cause for concern.

"At this minute, getting what we`d call a recognised right-back is a thought but it`s not as overwhelming as you think.

"I`m sure everybody would feel it`s something we`d definitely look at, but it`s not overwhelming in that sense.

"Getting this squad up to scratch in positions is obviously something I`d like to try to do, if I can.

"I`ve been particularly pleased with Olof Mellberg and obviously Craig Gardner when he`s gone there.

"In fact because Craig played there for us, he actually got picked for the England under-21s at right-back. He got picked on that strength.

"Craig likes to play and while he`s obviously a midfielder going forwards, he can give you the option of getting forward.

"Defensively he`s not as sound as Olof, but we`re trying to improve his game and I`ve been really pleased.

"Olof has played there and in an ideal world he`d want to play centre-half, but he went without questioning it.

"He`s adjusted and scored a couple of goals for us as well. I`ve been very pleased."

The E+S point towards Jose Bosingwa and the 22 million price tag as being the likely reason for the statement, along with failures concerning Justin Hoyte, and Pascal Chimbonda. Arsenal aren't receptive to any deal, and Spurs will only sell once they have a replacement apparently.

I know Mellberg has done a good job, but despite that without a natural right back we will continue to be unbalanced - that said we aren't doing too badly.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday January 17 2008

Time: 6:51PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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okay, well that really does scare me if i'm honest! i think we desperatley need a RB!
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17/01/2008 19:18:00

As good as he is, you can just tell that every team that plays us they see that he aint a recognised RB and same with Craig Gardener, in the prem its a fine line between success and failure and they always seem to go on the attack towards mellberg, and whenever he goes forward his crossing is not that of a natural RB, but fair play to him I think he's done well, great professional. Sad to see him go just when its looking good at villa
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17/01/2008 19:40:00

The main point is I think that there aren't any good fullbacks available who are ready to move or who being allowed to move by their clubs. To be honest if we have a right sided midfielder in front of Melberg/Gardener I don't see it as a problem. Our defense is better this season than it kas been for some time. Remember Melberg has played right back for his country and has throughout his career played there. He is still much better than Bardsley and a thousand times better than Hughes who I thought was dreadful. What Melberg lacks is forward pace but maybe with Defoe playing as a striker and Gabby on the right Melberg will stay back and won't need to go forward. It might not be ideal but I havn't heard of a right back who we could bid for and who is available.
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17/01/2008 19:48:00

Not surprised though at MON's comments. We should know by now that he has his target(s), and refuses to settle for second best and look elsewhere, if those on his radar are not available. He's obviously convinced that we can meddle our way through until May with Olof and Craig. I'm not so convinced. Still, he's the boss, not I.
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17/01/2008 19:51:00

yeah true, and MON wants quality in the team, which has been proved all season, got rid of dead wood, ok its a small team but its quality rather than quantity(Although I know injuries etc) but he's building a team, a quality addition here , another one there, have to be patient untill they come up
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17/01/2008 19:51:00

I think to be honest, Mellberg is doin a good job, I dont mind if we dont get a RB now, sod it, see how it goes for the season
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17/01/2008 19:53:00

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17/01/2008 19:56:00

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17/01/2008 20:01:00

I dont think he has had a right back since he has been here let alone this season. The top teams have left and right backs who can contribute to the attack. Mellberg and Bouma are solid but they are no Evra / Micah richards.
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17/01/2008 20:33:00

I think full back is a major problem area if we are to progress 'to the next level'. Olof and Wilf are very good defensively, BUT if we are to genuinely compete with the top 4 we need full backs who are comfortable in possession and offer attacking options. too often werely on the long ball into carew and play off him. We need the option of the keeper being able to give the ball to skillful full backs so we can build from deep. In the short term a natural right sided player (like Milner) would solve the problem with a solid full back behind him (like on the left with Wilf and Ashley) BUT i think in the longer term we need new full backs. Disappointed we have missed out on Diarra and Matt Taylor. I trust in MON though, he will get it right.
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17/01/2008 20:54:00

We only need a RB if we are to progress this season. Stay with me......... If you look at the situation as a long term plan then why can't MON get the 'right' RB in the summer rather than settle for second best now. MON did stay it was a 5 year plan. Much rather find that 'right' RB now mind.
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17/01/2008 22:07:00

hang on hang on, bouma has been absolutely immense amd is our most underrated player i reckon.
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17/01/2008 22:55:00

Bouma is great! No worries there, but he would be even more immense if he sorted out his attacking game and had the pace to track back.
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18/01/2008 08:48:00

I must admit I am not too concerned, however I actually feel that many have overlooked the bigger problem. We dont have a recognised Right Winger!!!! On left we are brilliant Young does a great job. However who do we have on the right? MAloney could and has done it. And barring 3 minutes against Reading Salifou has not been played. Petrov similarly to Mellberg is played on the right when it is obvious the guy is central. Olly has been solid, not concerned, however I have a feeling that MON is wanting a strike partner for Carew, so Gabby (our best forward, who is IMO terrible on the wing) can play out on the right? We will not finish in the top ten unless we get this right hand side sorted. One or the other (rb or rw) needs to be strengthened!!
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18/01/2008 09:22:00

Mellberg is OK defensively at RB, but he lacks pace and can be attacked. Also, he hardly ever overlaps like a true full back, and he can't cross the ball. It takes away an attacking option for us, even if it does strengthen the 'blocker' aspect of our defence.
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18/01/2008 12:08:00

Bouma is great defensively but when he wins the ball he gives it away again with his inaccurate passing or thumping it up to Carew. Bouma is responsible for half the bad passes of the Villa team each game, and as VillaYamYam says Ollie is slow and does not go forward enough. We really do need two good backs but I suspect it won't be in this window.
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18/01/2008 13:04:00

I personally think Mellberg has really grown in the RB role, he will never be quite the Cafu, but he has definately improved at RB throughout the season. He just cannot deliver a cross.
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18/01/2008 13:23:00

Agree KSarge1. He has performed considerably better in the right back position that I think a lot of us dared hope for. Certainly no left winger has taken him to the cleaners, and his performances have been better than the level of showing we were getting from Hughes and/or Bardsley.
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22/01/2008 02:06:00


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