A Villa Fan's Decade Looking Back
Razorbeef looks back at the last decade for him as a Villa fan.
Being still of a relatively young age, this is the first opportunity I have had to be able to look back at a period of time (a decade seems like a lifetime to me, well half of one) and accurately assess goings on. Although the last decade will ultimately be remembered as a relatively uneventful one in Villa's history, it still seems appropriate to look back and review it with the correct amount of nostalgia. Now this is my first article so everyone be kind, though being of quite a stubborn mindset, I don't foresee any disagreements, only universal approval and praise for my efforts.
Anyway, here it is:
Only his second season in claret and blue, we have not had a more consistent custodian in the last ten years. Although his competitors are average at best, (gone but not forgotten Mr.Enckleman, and Mr. Sorensen for that matter) Friedel has given an air of calm and solidarity to our backline. Also he’s a real contender for Premier League Goalkeeper of the Decade so there can be no real arguments.
Solid if not spectacular, Mark Delaney was a consummate professional over a number of years. One of the finest slide tacklers ever to glide horizontally across the turf, if it weren't for injury he could have been even better. I would hope to see him back at Villa Park in some capacity in the future.
Olof Mellberg & Martin Laursen:
Probably the easiest decisions of all. One club legend attached to a beard, another patrolling the back four menacingly on a crumbling knee. If it weren't for injury, these pair could have truly blossomed into a world-class centre back pairing. Olof Mellberg played as if he bled Claret and Blue and had a fitting five-one swan song against that mob from small heath. Martin Laursens' true ability can be measured in the esteem he is held in by Villa fans, despite playing relatively few games for us. Two men that will live long in the memory, and more than worthy of their place in any team.
Although I'm a massive fan of Freddie Bouma, I genuinely think Stephen Warnock may be the best we've had since Alan Wright. Tenacious in the tackle and with a useful left foot, the scouser seems to give his all every week. For any doubters, see our win at Old Trafford, where I honestly believe at times Mr.Warnock didn't care whether he lived or died when throwing himself into the fray. For the short time he was with us.
Maybe a slightly controversial selection, Nolberto Solano sparkled like few others have over the last ten years. An absolute snip at £1.5 million, Nobby was part of the O'Dreary team that nearly unbelievably gatecrashed the top 4. His goal in the 1 nil win against Spurs is a particular highlight. Despite his exit leaving a bitter taste, I've gone for ability and performance rather than personality, which my next choice will show....
It had to be, didn't it? Say what you like, Gareth Barry almost single handedly kept us in the division at points in the middle of the last decade. Ridiculously overlooked for national selection, Gareth must be close to being one of the most consistent performers in the clubs history. Although not blessed with pace, Barry always gave his all, even when we all knew his head had been turned. Its just such a shame things have turned out like they have. With him this season we would be dangerous.
Slightly bending the rules because you may argue he best days were behind him by 2000, but I did really want him in. Paul Merson is a player Villa have failed to replace ever since they let him go. The goal that sent down Coventry, the goal against Everton, the Magic Man turned using the outside of your right-foot at all times into an art form. Sod it, I take back my slight apologies early, this man is in this team on merit.
Ashley Young. The most exciting player Villa have had in their midst in living memory. At times last season he was simply unplayable, and may be the best player I have seen at Villa Park that actually plays for us. Bags of potential, even when underperforming at the moment, his set piece delivery is still responsible for most of our attacking threat. There's also the day he destroyed the blues and that goal at Goodison.
I may be bias but I love this man. Having come into football in the age of Ronaldo (the one that loves lady boys) I was always going to have a special affection for our very own South American Superstar, and I was delighted when Juan Pablo Angel signed on the dotted line. Who cares about the hefty fee, this man played the game in the right spirit. After some ups and downs, it's clear JPA has a special place in his heart for the Villa, and I for one have the same for him. At times he was sensational, playing in a team of average nobodies he was sometimes maybe too clever for them. I for one think he’d get 20 a season with our current 11.
Mainly because he seems a bloody lovely bloke (apart from when he nearly ran me over) Dion Dublin. I remember him in tears after his final game against United, and it was clear this was a man who had taken Villa to his heart. A model pro, and at times a real handful, could you find anyone with a bad word to say about him? He also scored a lot of goals which is also a good reason to be in any ‘best of’ 11.
So there it is. Hope you like it, and if you don't, as Mr Clough said, we'll talk about it for a while then agree you're wrong. Kind Regards Villans!