Villa's Right Hand Side Situation
Much has been said over the course of the season about the need for a right-back, the fact is that at the end of the 2006/07 season, Mr O'Neill had 3 right-backs - Aaron Hughes who has since joined Fulham, Phil Bardsley who returned to Man Utd following a 5 month loan spell and of course Mark Delaney, whose injury problems cut short the career of one of the finest right backs in the premiership.
The need for a right-back was surely to be a priority, all the signings were in place for the new season and not one of them could be consider a right-back. This caused concern amongst many supporters of this fine club.
However I would like to point out another position that Aston Villa have struggled in during the first half of the Premiership season.
The right wing. With Ashley Young on the left hand side, Villa have been threatening all season, and many fans will remember the game in which Young scored a goal that made Roman Abramovich storm off. Aston Villa 2-0 Chelsea. It was a great match and enjoyable for every fan. Over on the right hand side of midfield there in no recognised wide player. A position that has been filled by Gabby, Petrov and Maloney over the season. Now lets take a look at these 3 options:-
Gabby Agbonlahor - This guy is on course to becoming a great player, he finishing and pace have shown him to be a player of the highest quality, however MON appears to have been under the illusion at various points of the season that Gabby is in fact as good on the right as Young is on the left. This is blatantly not the case, taking the clubs best striker and placing him out of position is not good for the development of a player who is likely to become a 20 goal a season man.
Stiliyan Petrov - A man who has considerable talent and struggled to recapture the form at Villa Park that fans enjoyed during his Celtic days. Petrov does appear to play best as a central midfielder, however similarly to Mellberg in defence has found himself on the right hand side, and has at many points during this period looked out of his depth.
Shaun Maloney - A player who seems unlucky, a man who has scored more this season than Young, has looked good in almost every appearance he has made and is loved by the fans. He is unlucky because his talent lends him to any role on the field, anywhere across the middle or up front and yet is overlooked by MON.
In my opinion the answer to both problems are there for all to see, other than Salifou the only player who should be considered for the right wing role is Maloney, Gabby needs to remain up front and Petrov in the centre. Although the right back situation is a major issues amongst most fans, the right wing one is too. Cahill can consider him self unlucky that he has not been given a chance at right back, he is young enough to convert to that position, it does work Barry is perfect example of someone adapting to a new role.
Martin O'Neill is a good manager and it is plain to see that the players all rate him highly, but his inability to recognise the weaknesses of his side could ultimately be the downfall of the Ulsterman.