Aston Villa 2008/09 v Aston Villa 1995/96
Right lets start by saying it is almost impossible to compare like for like. Partly due to a difference in the formations both sides use. But I am going to try my best....
For me, Mark Bosnich and Friedel are the two best keepers that Aston Villa have had since the start of the Premier League years. Bosnich was, in hindsight playing the best football of his career and at the time it could have been argued was the finest keeper in the league. Friedel on the other hand is probably slightly past his best, but despite this has been incredible for Villa all season.
James, Schmeichel, Enckelman, Sorensen and Carson were all decent keepers in their own way but Friedel and Bosnich are both great keepers. It`s no small coincidence that Friedel is the first keeper since Bossie to find himself in a side pushing for a top four finish.
Central defenders are Laursen, Davies and Knight versus Paul McGrath, Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu.
Now Laursen is probably the best defender Villa have had since McGrath left but lets bear in mind that in 1996, McGrath was coming to the end of his career. Davies and Knight are quite comparable to Southgate and Ehiogu in many ways, one is big and pretty good in the air while the other is better at the groundwork, but which partnership would you consider to be best?
The fullback debate (currently) would have to be Cuellar and Luke Young versus Gary Charles and Alan Wright, the 95/96 boys would have the advantage considering that both played in their natural position and they played more often as wing-backs, something that I for one, hope I never see Cuellar attempt!!!
Young, Barry, Milner and Petrov against Mark Draper, Andy Townsend and Ian Taylor, because of the wing-backs (mentioned before) we used to play with a three man midfield so it is hard to compare, however I would consider the modern midfield to be far superior than the old set up.
Barry like Townsend is composed and is the main man in the middle, Petrov is similar to Taylor in that he does more of the clean up job however he doesn't score half as many goals!! Draper has to take on Young and Milner on his own, as he was the main supplier of assists (if memory serves me right) and did weigh in with many goals much like our 2 lads today.
So, Savo Milosevic, Tommy Johnson and Dwight Yorke or do you prefer John Carew, Emile Heskey and Gabby Agbonlahor?
Like I said about the defence in some ways it is a comparable selection in some ways. Well ok, just in that Carew is as frustrating a player as Savo was!! On their day they are both class but more often than not are unable to motivate themselves. Both big and strong, plus both are capable of scoring plenty of goals.
Tommy Johnson was a super sub and a fan favourite to boot, Emile Heskey will never score as many as 'the ginger one` did despite having more game time but Heskey has other strengths. He is a creator and is superb at holding the ball up.
Now for the big one Agbonlahor against Yorke, and for me considering Yorke was only a year older that Gabby is now, it just shows how far away from being a great striker Agbonlahor really is. Yorke led the attack, he scored goals, gave 110% every game and did it all with a smile on his face. Agbonlahor seems to be low on confidence at the moment (much like this time last season!) and as such cannot find the net, and many fans believe he doesn't always give his all. In a year`s time Gabby will be 23 like Dwight Yorke was in 1996, will he be anywhere near as good? I truly hope so.
What I have done here is just remind you of some of players that were part of the squad that finished 4th last, it`s all my opinion (obviously) and I am sure not everyone will agree with me. I cannot say who the better side is; I will leave that for you lot to decide for yourselves.
One final point perhaps is that as well as finishing 4th in 1995/96, the squad above managed to win the League Cup and reached the Semi-final of the FA Cup, there weren't many other players in the squad back then either but those who were included Steve Staunton, Carl Tiler and Franz Carr.