Aston Villa - A New Philosophy For Villa
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A New Philosophy For Villa

Football is a simple game, last season proved that. Score lots and conceed lots equals exciting games. O'Neill wants to change that.

Speaking on the official site about the unfortunate dropping of two points against Liverpool, O'Neill explained that he has no intention of losing Villa's attacking play, but he is looking towards a less leaky defence to drive us forward this season.

Pointing to Man U's string of 1-0 victories last season, O'Neill says that it proves that all the best sides, and those who intend on challenging for the top honours, have to have a strong and reliable defensive line.

'Sunday's game against Liverpool was a bit of a stalemate. It almost became like a chess match during parts of the match. It's the first time we have had a goalless draw for over 40 games. It is unusual but very commendable. We are not used to it.

'Liverpool have spent a lot of money but they are not scoring freely even when they have some of the best players in the world available to them. But they have been able to shut up shop. These things are very important.

'Take the example of Manchester United last season. During the first few games, they couldn't get a result and then won five of the next six Premier League games 1-0.

'For all their fantastic attacking flair, they built their foundations on a solid defence.

'We are not going to forsake attacking play, far from it, because Villa fans come down expecting something in the form of the Manchester City display. I don't want to disappoint anyone.

'But from a professional point of view, the improved defensive display was greeted in some quarters with relief.'

I think the improved defensive display against Liverpool was greeted with relief in all quarters as many of us would've put money on Liverpool getting a 'cheeky' penalty or freekick in the dying seconds, as is usually the case.

There are no doubts that if we intend on solidifying our league position from last year or improving further our defence needs to be at its best, so it comes as no surprise that is the area that most of our activity in the transfer market was in the defensive area. If we can continue to play and score as freely as last season, yet even take off a quarter of the goals we conceeded it would be easily worth 10-20 additional points for us over the course of the season.

That number of points could not only make the difference between 6th and 5th, it could also be the difference between 6th and 4th depending on how other teams do.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday September 4 2008

Time: 3:44PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Once this defence gels and the players get used to their partners' movements there should no excuses for conceding anywhere near the same amount of goals as last season - not to mention the addition of Bouma when he gets back from injury, he'll be like another new signing.
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04/09/2008 16:05:00

We just need to stop leaking late goals, Stoke and Man City anyone?
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04/09/2008 16:23:00

nice reminder jonah, spot on too. maybe when we've run up several victories with no goals against we can really talk of improvement
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04/09/2008 16:42:00

Although our goals against column doesn't look particularly good at the moment, you have to remember that it contains 2 very questionable penalties and a late consolation goal. Whilst they all count at the end of the season if it goes down to goal difference, I don't think that we need to read too much into at this stage of the season. We'll be OK as long as Zat doesn't get too many games!
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04/09/2008 16:56:00

I agree with Mayo...this defence really is starting to look good now, improved dramatically
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04/09/2008 17:16:00

I cant see zat playing many premier league games this season Q...
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04/09/2008 17:21:00

I believe MOn will play just one up front from now on, which will in turn help out the defence. With Sidwell coming back to fitness, he will play Reo holding, and then Sidwell, Barry, Young and Milner to support Carew. Even though playing one up front sounds defensive, it can actually work out being more attacking, while giving better cover to the defence. Chelsea play that way and while our players aren't quite on the same level, it shows it can work, if they talk to eachother and players cover, when others bomb forward. I think the starting 11 once everyone is fit will be Friedel, Young, Cueller, Laursen, Bouma, Milner, Reo, Sidwell, barry, Young and Carew.
In MON we trust!
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04/09/2008 17:23:00

TheQ and all you other Zat haters! The guy is a VILLA BOY through and through! Show a bit of respect for a fellow Holte Ender... that is if you've ever stood on the Holte!
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05/09/2008 04:49:00

Or know what the Holte is! Oh, In Mon we trust... stop talking utter *****e! Reo will not play ahead of Petrov and that is far too defensive. Strewth.
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05/09/2008 04:51:00

Er yeah, thanks for that constructive contribution Rawlie. It's not a case of people being 'Zat haters', more a case of people wanting what's best for Villa. Call me old fashioned but I always feel alot more comfortable with our best team on the pitch - that being a team that doesn't have players like Zat Knight in it. I like Zat because he always gives his all, and that is ultimately all you can ask for from anyone, but his all is not the required standard from which we now operate. As highly as I rate Curtis, I struggle to see how he could possibly displace Carlos or Laursen once they start together. In my near 30 years of watching Villa the stand out partnerships have been McGrath and Nielsen, Southgate and Ehigou but I think the central defence this season could be the best of the lot.
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05/09/2008 09:49:00

lol. Who'd have thought we'd have a £10Million defender who can't get in the Villa team. Bout time!
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05/09/2008 11:02:00

Well Beefy! That is impressive... is it because you've been watching Villa for 30 years that you can say a player we've NEVER seen in Claret and Blue is better than another? Give me a break! Oh, and one wonders how short people's memories are when thinking back to the aforementioned Southgate and Ugo partnership how many mistakes and errors a certain Mr Ehiogu commited. I'm pretty sure Zat knows he's not first team, but the fact that he's here at the club he loves and is willing to be on hand when we need him speaks volumes to me.
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05/09/2008 11:10:00

Hey, i'm short but my memory's fine!!!!! :o
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05/09/2008 11:48:00

Don't want to add fuel to this fire but..... Southgate and Ehiogu had NEVER been a central partnership until they went to Middlesboro (I specifically remember an interview with Southgate after Ehiogu signed for Boro in which he refuted the critics who said they wouldn't be a good partnership because they'd never played in a flat four together). At Villa they were two of three with either God or a young Gareth Barry. And God and Nielsen was the same situation - they were part of a three with Derek Mountfield most of the time. God played in a VERY effective back two with Shaun Teale however..... In the past thirty years, the very best defensive pairing has to be Evans and McNaught without a shadow of doubt.
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05/09/2008 12:26:00

To be honest Rawlie - the suggestion made by In MON we Trust is not a bad one and is certainly not defensive especially is he was to say 4-3-3 with Milner and Young on the flanks supporting Carew and NRC or Petrov, Sidwell and Barry in the middle. Hardly defensive now is it??
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05/09/2008 14:44:00

Rawlie what makes your opinion correct over everyone elses?! And also, what makes you more of a fan than the rest of us?! Regarding my comments regarding our formation, lets just wait until the Spurs game and see who is correct?
In MON we trust!
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05/09/2008 14:44:00

I have absolutely no objection to people debating who is a better player than somebody else on our books, but I really, really dislike seeing comments such as "We'll be OK as long as Zat doesn't get too many games" and "that being a team that doesn't have players like Zat Knight in it". How soul destroying must it be for an Aston Villa player to come on these forums and see stuff like that. Why the hell would Zat give his all for the shirt if his own supporters treat him like s**t? Whether he is the best player we have is up for debate, but Zat is a Villa player who definitely gives his all for the club, and deserves much more respect than he gets. No problem with opinion, but cut out the soul-destroying comments and lack of respect!
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05/09/2008 15:27:00

I agree.Zat knight will come in handy,Don`t forget the lad is one of the villa faithful aswell so lets go easy,He is one of us.
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05/09/2008 23:14:00

I dont think that we'll have too many problems with the new look defence, certainly not when the lads of enjoyed some playing time together, and had time to gel. They are all highly talented individuals, they'll do us proud.
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09/09/2008 00:19:00

The Q is spot on when he reminds us of the two dubious spot kicks that have been scored against us. Its the late, late goals that are the killer, the goals that cost us points. There's no team in the country like us for conceding in the ninety minute plus mark.
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09/09/2008 00:21:00

Regarding Beefy's comments about Carlos Cuellar, I have to admit that the guy is something of an unknown quantity to me, but as good as he is, there's no way on current form he will replace Curtis Davies. That is never going to happen.
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28/09/2008 08:02:00


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