Villa's Hughes & Angel Praised
Martin O'Neill has praised Juan Pablo Angel and Aaron Hughes for remaining professional whilst being dropped from the team.
In some ways I really agree, in others I can't help but think that Angel is on around £40 000 a week and Hughes must be on £15 000 or so I'd have thought? Now, if someone wants to employ me and not use me, I promise never to moan and always to be tip top in my behaviour. Hey, I'll even take a pay cut and take just £5000 a week.
The Villa boss said of the Columbian striker: 'It's a long season and he started it and did very well. The system seemed to suit him with Luke Moore and Gabriel Agbonlahor on either side and we scored a few goals. But it's hard to keep that momentum going. He looked a bit tired recently. Confidence is crucial with strikers, but I have to say he's been absolutely terrific around the club - he comes in and wants to do his training and he's never moaned for one moment about anything at all. I've had absolutely not a minute's concern with him and he knows that between now and the end of the season, I'm sure he'll get back in the fold and I'm sure he's got the mentality and ability to fight back.'
Adding: 'In fairness to him, there was a period of time when he didn't have a great deal of help either. Competition for places never does anyone any harm - I don't care what people say about it - it's good. When you've got two months of the same team - where it's picking itself and struggling to fill the bench - I'm telling you, it's really good to have competition for places. It's a fantastic array of options up front - now we could do with trying to stop them at the other end! We have to try to get it right at both ends.'
And on Aaron Hughes, who was linked to a move back to Newcastle United during the transfer window, O'Neill said:
'What has happened is we started off in August and the side, after a week or two, was effectively picking itself. We didn't have many choices and, during the last two months when we were running out of steam, we were at our weakest and even filling the substitutes' bench was a problem. Now we've added a couple of players in January and those players with longer-term injuries like Martin Laursen and Luke Moore are coming back. We have had a cleaner bill of health than for a long time and there is competition for places which is no bad thing to have.'
'But Aaron Hughes' attitude has been fantastic. That fantastic attitude has stood him in good stead throughout his career, never mind anything else. Nothing fazes him. We had words in the sense of he would like to play a bit better than recently. At the start of the season, I thought Aaron was terrific, but it's a long, long season for any player to keep a consistency going. But those are the things you are looking for, if you are going to try and improve.'
Meanwhile some reports are linking Juan Pablo Angel to a summer move to Deportivo La Coruna. It would probably make sense for the player to seek a fresh challenge for next season, he is falling too far down the pecking order to remain happy not even making the bench surely?