The Week In Villa #2 (29/8/08 - 4/9/08)
Friday, 29th August
Milner signs! Good news. As I said in the previous week, I am a big fan of the lad and was disappointed when we didn`t get him the last time. Hopefully we can get a striker in now…
We`re also linked with Marouane Fellaini of Standard Liege. Seems like a bit of a nonsense to me. We apparently had him watched - but surely, with Liverpool as our next opposition, we were watching them?
We get a decent draw in the UEFA Cup. The first leg is away, and it is against Litex Lovech. We are likely to be favourites for this, and although it will no doubt be a tough ride, you can`t help but feel pretty optimistic.
When asked about his relationship with Martin O`Neill, the vile Rafa Benitez turns around and describes it as, "Not good". When asked for a response, Sir MON concurs. I know it is exceptionally unlikely, but I`d be delighted if he chinned the ugly Spaniard on Sunday…
Saturday, 30th August
Gareth Barry dominates the news, as he is almost single-handedly taking over the attention of Sunday`s game. To be honest though, it is nice to finally hear from him as he breaks his long vow of silence. He says all the right things, and regardless of what is actually going on in his head, on the surface it all looks good for now.
Dean Ashton is linked in more than one news source, but not one that makes you think, "Blimey, this is on". Would be a top signing though - provided he can stay fit.
Finally, we again get a kind draw in the League Cup, home v QPR. As we saw v Leicester last year, this can easily go pear-shaped, but hopefully we should be able to see ourselves through until the last 16.
Sunday, 31st August
So, a bore-draw v Liverpool, our first 0-0 for over 40 games and and a damp squib to be honest. With all the hype that was always likely to be the case - but the clincher was… well, Liverpool are boring, aint they?! Especially with Gerrard and Torres in the side. It did show, however, that we really need not fear them, and that although top 4 is a MASSIVE ask, it should not be beyond our hopes for the season.
Monday, 1st September
It is the final day of the transfer window. So what will it bring? Nothing, as it happens… Well, other than some rumours in the last couple of hours that we tried to sign Emule Heskey.
I`m going to be 100% honest here, I am genuinely disappointed that we did not sign a striker. We knew back in January that Luke Moore was likely to be going, and we knew in May that he was definitely going (although based on his performances I would suggest he left in the summer!) and it is strange if nothing else that we have not replaced him. That said, overall it had been a very good window and, despite the disappointment of not signing a striker, I am very pleased with our summer activity. On the plus side, Nathan Delfounso may well save us millions, and if you want my opinion, I think he is going to be a top player. It may well be asking a lot for him to make anything other than a bit-contribution this season, but he really is one to keep an eye on.
Oh and another rumour was that we were in for Joey Barton. It came from the Daily Mirror, which speaks for itself. Gareth Barry, Stilyian Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Steve Sidwell, Craig Gardner, Isaiah Osborne, Moustapha Salifou… A central midfielder, unless he is of exceptional quality that will improve the team, is NOT what we need. That is before we even get into the mess that is Joey Barton…
Tuesday, 2nd September
Yep, nothing definitely happened!
Reports strongly suggest that we DID make a late bid for Heskey. I can sort of see the logic behind it… As big and strong as Marlon is, a target man he aint. So Heskey would be more of the Carew mould. But I think most of us are relieved it did not happen...!
In other news, Craig Gardner is forced to pull out of the England U-21 squad with a hamstring injury, and the game v Chelsea is moved to the Sunday (October 5th).
Wednesday, 3rd September
We deny reports that Ashley Young has signed a new contract but confirm we are in talks. I think the lad has earned that for sure. It`s funny, really, that you look at all the time Liverpool spent chasing Gareth Barry over the summer, but really, Ashley Young is a lot closer to what they need. Thankfully they kept their mucky paws off him, and long may that continue. I do wish he`d stop diving though… or at least get better at it!
Also, the reserves win 2-1 away at Stoke. Carlos Cuellar and Steve Sidwell both played 90 minutes and goals came from Nathan Delfounso and Isaiah Osborne. A good night`s work then, by the sound of things.
Thursday, 4th September
With most players off to the internationals, there really is not a lot to report. Petrov says that Barry is worth £25m to us and Martin O`Neill talks about us having a lot of games in a small space of time after the international break, which he also bemoans.
Let`s just hope everybody comes back fully fit, eh. Ah, roll on the return of domestic football…