Date:Monday December 7 2009
You know that player who plays for England? The striker. The one who plays with Rooney, and the one Capello seems to love? The big lad… Yeah, Emile Heskey, that`s the one. He`s back playing again.
Heskey was that player who went missing from the Lancashire area in January. People tried looking for him. Martin O`Neill even dedicated a few months to finding him but no one knows where he`s been.
I heard he joined the Tibetan monks, or that he was just focusing on his pot painting for a while. I even heard that he was sighted in Las Vegas with Elvis Presley and 2Pac… Where ever he`s been is a mystery, but it does seem that Heskey is back playing football at Villa nowadays. He`s even scored a couple.
Amongst all the excitement of Villa`s new midfield and Stewart Downing`s first games for the club, it hasn`t really been noted how much of that can be credited to Heskey. Over the last four games the 'Striker` has actually been playing like that guy who plays up front for England.
Against Burnley we were all excited about Downing`s debut, against Tottenham we were too busy shouting from the roof tops at each other, against Portsmouth it was getting through to the cup semi final, and against Hull it`s the new midfield and Milner in the middle.
Not that I`m moaning. It`s been brilliant. All the things going on in the midfield with the switching of the flanks, Milner in a central role and Stewart Downing is great news. It`s been a massive thorn in the side of Villa for too long. We`ve all seen it. We`ve all bitched and moaned about. But the centre midfield and the complete lack of creativity is what we`ve all been banging O`Neill`s door with. It quite possibly could have taken the introduction of Downing to spark the leap in potential of Villa`s new look midfield. It is something to be excited about as with the last two games, it`s really worked brilliantly.
I`m even hoping that O`Neill takes the same starting line up to Manchester next week. With the frailties of the United squad at the moment, who ended up with a real makeshift of a defence against West Ham. It could be a great time to put our game to them and go for the points against Manchester United. I hope so. I hope Martin O`Neill is bold enough to go for it.
What has gone under the radar somewhat, are the performances of Emile Heskey.
Martin O`Neill`s search finally paid off when on the day of the Burnley game as O`Neill stepped off the team bus, he actually tripped over Heskey as he was sat outside begging for change. Seriously, that`s where he`s been this whole time. Turns out he`s just been stumbling about round Lancashire the last year.
O`Neill quickly took him inside and got him showered and gave him some clean clothes when he offered Heskey a job. Promised him good pay, bright prospects and most importantly… a warm place to sleep for the night.
Obviously Emile was in no position to turn down such a kind offer and went out to play his debut for Aston Villa. O`Neill informed the impostor he`d hired to take Heskey`s place, that his services would no longer be needed. He`d managed a couple of goals so he bunged him a couple of £20`s in way of bonus and sent him on his way. Emile Heskey then came on in the second half for his debut clouded under people paying attention to Stewart Downing. Ten minutes remaining he sneaked onto the pitch unnoticed and turned a James Milner cross into the net with a strong header.
He followed it up against Tottenham when he came off the bench at and narrowly sent a very difficult header just agonisingly over the bar.
At Portsmouth Stan Petrov`s claim to have scored the best ever own goal could have made things a completely different night for the Villa team. Milner sent Heskey through one on one with the keeper from a sublime ball that left the defence standing, Heskey showed all the composure of a striker and slotted the ball in the net. Without Heskey`s timely equalizer then I`m not sure if the inexperienced partnerships in the middle and therefore, lack of confidence, would have made for the same result. As it was, Heskey`s finish took the pressure back off the midfield to allow them to play.
At the weekend against Hull, Emile Heskey made his first home start for Aston Villa. He played alright as well by all accounts. He didn`t score but he took a clever little run to take two defenders away in the 13th minute to give Richard Dunne the space to hammer his shot past the keeper.
In Emile Heskey`s first four games for Villa, in only 200 of a possible 360 minutes of football he`s scored two vital goals, had an agonizing miss with another and had a hand in a final goal.
With Villa`s new-look midfield, the addition of Emile Heskey to O`Neill`s team could reap all the same benefits that having in him in the England has. How long have we heard about his ability to hold up the ball or to bring others into the game? With James Milner making runs from a central position past the strikers, he may actually have someone to hold the ball up for. The centre midfield partnerships have been a bit shy to go forward lately but with Milner, Downing & Ashley Young all swapping and changing it`s going to be like Christmas for Emile.
He`ll be busier than New Street Station all the holding up he`s got to do. All three players will show a tendency to get into the box and Heskey won`t be short of chances to really do what he does for England, for Villa. In the England team he has the likes of Gerrard, Lampard & Rooney overlapping so what he does best is he manages to keep the ball and knock it on to the one of the onrushing players.
If can do that for Villa as well as popping up with another couple of goals over the next few games with big ones against Manchester United & Sunderland next up then Martin O`Neill is a genius.
With the tricky test at Turf Moor, O`Neill took the bold move to give both his latest signings their debut in the second half and it paid off. One of them salvaged a point.
Not the expensive one… the England Striker.
In all seriousness, we could finally be looking at the best of Emile Heskey. He hasn`t had the best of times since he moved from Wigan in January and how much of that can be credited to the previous state of the midfield.
We all know what Heskey`s strengths are and we can talk about him being a striker at the end of the day, and strikers should score goals. Heskey though, is like a god. Some believe in him, some don`t believe in him, but regardless, there`s no doubting he has an impact on the ones around.
I`m not making excuses for he has been far from a performer so far for Villa.
After the ruckus about his comments needing to think about his future, he`s been handed the opportunity to play in the style of team that suits him. O`Neill hasn`t been able to get the best from Heskey as he hasn`t had the correct tools at his disposal. If Emile Heskey is ever going to be considered any form of success at Villa Park then the team that faced Portsmouth & Hull last week, is THE Villa team that he will need to play in.
If, and I`m praying to god that he will, O`Neill sticks with this new-look midfield then Heskey could well be on his way to the World Cup. He can do just what he does for England in this set up so now it`s up to him.
Capello likes him, it`s obvious, but he`s not exactly a shoo-in if he`s not been playing regularly all season.
First thing that Heskey needs to be doing this morning (Monday), is going to O`Neill`s office and ask him about what team he intends to be playing for the most part of the season. If it`s the one at Portsmouth & Hull, we should start to see Emile Heskey, the England player at Villa. If it`s the team against Burnley & Tottenham, then he should be handing in a transfer request as he won`t make the World Cup in that team.
Manchester United away is up next. If Martin O`Neill can take the same line up to Old Trafford then for the first time in many seasons, I`ll have a feeling that we may be able to get something.
I think this team could be the one that releases all the potential of the Villa team. I know it`s a big jump to make but all of the class is now there. We would still need another striker but if one weren`t to be available in January, I wouldn`t be crying about it… It`s just spilt milk.
Date:Monday December 7 2009
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