Writer: Dan Jones
Date:Monday June 8 2009
In response to a lack of Transfer activity during the window, Martin O`Neill exclusively tells Sky Sports that "Villa fans can expect a flurry of transfers in the next few weeks", also promising top buys. He then distances himself with growing speculation that the club are going to sign Elano and Joe Hart from Man City.
Days before the season starts and Villa unveil their first signing, Titus Bramble signs on a 4 year deal from Wigan Athletic for £4million, Bramble states on the official site that he is a different sort of player to Martin Laursen but will do his utmost to help the team challenge the top four.
The first game of the season sees Villa beating Premier League newboys Burnley, 3-0 at Villa Park, with newly appointed club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor scoring a hat-trick.
Following some concerns in fan forums about the appointment of Agbonlahor as captain, O`Neill states on Match of the Day, that "some fans seem to have forgotten what Gabby has done for this club!!".
The other two games, see Villa draw 0-0 at Sunderland, and 1-1 at Anfield.
Deadline day sees Marlon Harewood move to Stoke City, Salifou commits himself to a five year deal and the club make two new signings, Joey Barton is brought in to replace Gareth Barry for £6million and the club also complete a deal for Ghanaian 26 year old striker Oliver Madaupa for £2million from the Norwegian third division. Madaupa is described as the "Ghanaian Pele".
There is encouraging news as the club announces that Wilfred Bouma is only four weeks away from a full recovery.
Elsewhere in football, Newcastle appoint Alan Shearer as manager on a three year deal.
The month starts well with a 2-0 win against Chelsea at Villa Park, despite Barton being sent off early on, Ashley Young capitalises on a mistake by Ivanovic to put Villa a goal up before half time. Agbonlahor beats Petr Cech after being put through one on one.
Bramble, yet to make his debut for the club is called up to Fabio Capello`s England team ahead of a friendly. James Milner, Ashley Young and Agbonlahor are also in the squad.
Aston Villa defeat Hull City 4-0 at the KC Stadium, Agbonlahor bags two and the club find themselves at the top of the table at the end of the month, O`Neill plays down talk of a title challenge.
The official site reveals that Bouma could be back as early as four weeks.
Elsewhere in football, Newcastle pick up their first point of the season against an injury depleted Sheffield Wednesday.
Agbonlahor leads the scoring charts following more goals in games against Portsmouth, Fulham, Arsenal and Wolves.
Martin O`Neill wins manager of the month, with Ashley Young winning the player of the month award.
The club enjoy a European Night to remember as they beat FC Twente, 3-0. Delfouneso scores two and Carew comes on from the bench to add the other. O`Neill reveals in his post match interview that he is convinced Carew was in fact offside.
However there is disappointment as the team are beaten by Doncaster Rovers in the 3rd round of the League Cup, despite claims by captain Agbonlahor and manager O`Neill that the club would be taking the competition seriously in the match day programme.
It is claimed that Wilfred Bouma is expected to be back in training within four weeks.
Elsewhere in football, Alan Shearer steps down as manager of Newcastle, and to appease the fans owner Mike Ashley appoints Peter Beardsley as the new manager.
Curtis Davies misses the trip to Manchester City due to flu, and O`Neill announces his back four for the trip, deciding to drop Shorey, he moves Luke Young to left back and Cuellar moves over to right back, with Knight and Bramble to make their first league starts of the campaign. Villa take an early lead through a Stiliyan Petrov wonder strike sending the fans into a frenzy. Villa sit back on their lead and withstand everything thrown at them, O`Neill decides to bring Carew on for Knight, moving Cuellar back into the middle, Milner to right back, Petrov onto the right wing, Ashley Young into the middle and Heskey onto the left wing. Within minutes alleged-summer target Elano equalises, O`Neill knows a change needs to be made and decides to bring on Delfouneso for Luke Young, pushing Milner over to left back, Petrov to right back, Young onto the right wing, Heskey into central midfield and Agbonalhor onto the left wing. With only a minute left of normal time Elano sends Robinho through on goal, Bramble chases him down and fouls him just inside the area, Bramble is sent off and Gareth Barry is handed the ball by Man City captain Richard Dunne. Barry places the ball on the spot and scores to win Man City the game and subject his former club to their first defeat of the season.
The club website reveals that Joey Barton has received a club enforced 2 month ban following an attack on a bar maid on Broad Street, and that Wilfred Bouma is only four weeks away from returning to action, which is reported as being ahead of schedule.
Elsewhere in football, Peter Beardsley resigns as manager of Newcastle.
Wilfred Bouma returns to action as the reserve team beat Sunderland, the Dutch international manages to play through the entire game.
With the transfer window set to re-open in January, the club assure fans that they will be doing their utmost to bring in the players required to help maintain a challenge for the title.
Harry Redknapp reveals in an interview on BBC`s football focus that he may well launch a bid to sign Ashley Young in the January Transfer Window. O`Neill however reassures fans that the club "do not sell its best players".
Elsewhere in football, Mike Ashley announces the appointment of "club legend", Philippe Albert as manager.
Aston Villa are beaten by Man Utd in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, 3-0. In the post match interview manager O`Neill says it allows the team to concentrate on the Europa League and challenging for the title.
Four wins in four in the league have the fans dreaming of success.
On deadline day the club cash in on Ashley Young, as he joins Spurs (who are sat in 14th in the league) in a £20million deal, Young comments that moving to a big club like Spurs was far too good to turn down. O`Neill finalises a deal to re-sign Wayne Routledge for £3million with only a few minutes to go.
Elsewhere in football, Newcastle win their first game of the season at Cardiff.
Wilfred Bouma and Joey Barton return to training, with Martin O`Neill claiming that it feels like having two new signings.
Wayne Routledge makes the dream debut scoring as Villa defeat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford. Routledge is subsequently dropped to the bench and does not feature again for the rest of the season. Garth Crooks asks Gabby Agbonlahor how it feels to finally beat Man Utd, "alright" states the club captain, showing the sort of wit and intellect that the team captains on Have I Got News For You, would be proud of.
The team suffer defeat at the hands of Birmingham City however after Joey Barton is sent off for head butting goalkeeper Maik Taylor, the fans ironically cheer as he leaves the field, O`Neill tells the press he is disgusted, saying "how can the fans boo one of their own players? It`s a disgrace if you ask me".
The team crash out of the Europa Cup, after O`Neill`s decision to rest 8 key players for the second leg in Munich, backfires. Bayern Munich defeat Villa 2-1 on aggregate, despite the English side winning 1-0 in the opening leg.
On Sky Sports, O`Neill reveals his decision was a tough one, stated that winning the title is his aim and with the club currently 6 points clear at the top of the league, many can understand his reasoning.
Bouma is ruled out for the rest of the season due to a recurrence of his injury.
Elsewhere in football, Philippe Albert leaves Newcastle to pursue other interests.
Villa manage only 2 points from the 5 games this month as they slip down to third in the league. Agbonlahor vows to rediscover his goalscoring touch, having not scored since October. O`Neill promises to stand by his Captain, and strike partner Heskey (who is yet to score a goal) despite 6 goals in the last 5 games from super sub John Carew.
Elsewhere in football, Mike Ashley announces the appointment of Ant and Dec as new joint managers of Newcastle United.
The month of April sees Villa return to winning ways after a dodgy refereeing decision sees the side beat Hull 1-0, goal coming from a Cuellar hand ball that is reminiscent of Maradona`s hand of god.
However the team suffer 4 more defeats and drop down to 5th in the league only one point ahead of Everton in 6th.
Elsewhere in football, Newcastle are relegated to League One and Ant and Dec resign in preparation for a new series of 'I`m a Celebrity…….`, former managers Beardsley and Gascoigne are confirmed as contestants.
Villa manage a point at Goodison Park in the penultimate game of the season. Carew scoring an equaliser in the final minute, a goal from 30 yards out that some believe will be win goal of the season awards. O`Neill reveals in his post match interview that he felt that the goal was "a total fluke".
The set up for the final game looks more favourably on Villa, who are at home to Stoke while Everton have Manchester United at Old Trafford, knowing that its tight at the top (Chelsea being a point clear of the Red Devils).
The game kicks off and Villa are all over Stoke, scoring on the half hour mark through Heskey, bagging his first of the season. Everton go one-nil down moments before half-time. Midway through the second half and Cahill equalises at Old Trafford, Titus Bramble puts the ball past his own keeper moments later, meaning both sides are drawing 1-1, Villa are still in 5th though. In the dying minutes of the game, Marlon Harewood nutmegs Curtis Davies and takes the ball round Friedel before burying the ball in the back of the net. News filters through from Old Trafford that Lescott has scored to put Everton into fifth. The final whistle goes and the team march around the stadium for the lap of honour. Summer signing Madaupa, enjoys the admiration from the crowd as they chant his name despite not making a single appearance in the league.
O`Neill claims he is proud of his boys and states that he has a small squad but is delighted that they finished in 6th for the third consecutive season, claiming that this had been their aim all along.
Fans praise the manager and the progress that has been made since last season.
Harry Redknapp reveals he is looking into the possibility of bringing John Carew to Spurs, he also claims that Man City are interested, the club however deny that they would ever sell a player who is key to the ongoing success.
Date:Monday June 8 2009
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