Aston Villa - Is Our Squad REALLY 'That' Bad To Be 15th?
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Is Our Squad REALLY 'That' Bad To Be 15th?

A quick companion to another article I`m working on.... I say work, I should really say 'work`... bit hard this running a football network for a living malarky really... nearly time for my massage and I`ve a pedicure later...

I digress:

Just looking at our squad, with all the talk of us being (again) in transition:

Our squad:

Shay Given one of the best GK`s going, Ireland international
Bradley Guzan, not a bad keeper, US international, good back up

Alan Hutton, McLeish signing, Spurs fans weren`t very complimentary about him, think we can see why perhaps although he has improved a bit lately?

Stephen Warnock, gone way off form, was decent when he first came, has played twice for England, gone backwards since GH but was decent when we first had him under MON

Richard Dunne, not my favourite following last seasons exploits but again, an international player

James Collins, same as Dunne, however, again, an international player and was solid under MON

Carlos Cuellar, always solid imho, been linked before but never called up to Spain team

We then have the back up of Ciaran Clarke who before his injury was shaping up nicely and other youth players.

Stephen Ireland, mercurial, enigmatic, but if handled right, a possible gem? International before he retired

Charles N`Zogbia, again a McLeish buy, France international (2 caps)

Jean Makoun, no idea, shipped out without being given a chance despite us being told that we are short on players. A Cameroon international.

Marc Albrighton, England U21 and an up and coming player, or at least he appeared to be, he`s had limited chances this season

Fabian Delph, big question marks for the price tag and out on loan right now

Stiliyan Petrov, you don`t get more experienced from this international player, he also bleeds for the cause. He might be coming to the end of his Villa career but he`s been an important player imho

You then have the emerging Barry Bannan (question marks for me, seems to have an attitude, but hopefully he`ll settle into a decent player) Chris Herd, Daniel Johnson, Gary Gardner and Samir Carruthers.

Darren Bent... international, play him right, he scores

Gabby Agbonlahor, international, play him right, he scores

Emile Heskey, international, moving on................!

Then we have the emerging Andreas Weimann.

Ok, so some decent players in the mix IF managed right? Few I`d like to see gone and replaced (that goes for any squad and any fan though obviously?!)

Now... we are 15th in the table.

Which of the teams above us have better squads?

Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool for sure.

The rest?

No, I`m sorry, they have some players I`d like but I can`t see that any of these are better, or SO much better than us. Can you?

Man for man, how many of each teams players would you swap for ours? IF ours were on form, managed right and playing to the best of their ability (comparing like for like and similar form for the other teams players?)

Transition yes, because a new manager wants his own players in but does that excuse our capitulations, no shows, the many excuses and all the lapses we`ve seen this year?

Sorry, I don`t think so and although he will never point towards himself, surely the buck stops with the manager? Has he convinced himself that he is so much in transition that he isn`t to blame for the results? Or...?

6 Newcastle 30 2 50
8 Sunderland 30 5 40
9 Everton 30 -2 40
10 Swansea 30 -2 39
11 Norwich 30 -6 39
12 Stoke 30 -12 38
13 Fulham 29 -3 36
14 West Brom 30 -5 36

For me, with our players, especially the strike force (when fit obviously) we have when played correctly and supply is given to them, we should be top eight. I can see little reason for WBA, Norwich or Swansea being above us squad wise, apart from good management?

Opinions (slightly above the 'McLeish is a swear word` please)

Do you think any of those squads ARE head and shoulders above us?

And yes, I know, the season isn't over yet, we could end up above the teams named, however....

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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 26 2012

Time: 3:01PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Technically we have a top quality squad but a combination of poor management and lack of desire from players has landed us at the bottom (wrong) end of the table. For us to perform to the optimal level a lot needs to change starting with the manager and then get rid of the trouble makers (we all know who they are), only then can we move onwards and upwards.
Green Villan
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26/03/2012 15:10:00

Hi, I wrote a piece for this site which you kindly published back in December. I mentioned in the article that I was living in London and have been for the past few years. I had to give up my season ticket under the final season under MON due to the cost of commuting very other week. This season I've been to a few Arsenal games thanks to a mate of mine. So on Saturday I went along with my dad thanks to my mate sorting us out a couple of tickets. This meant we had to sit with the Arsenal fans so we were a bit worried that we would have to keep quiet if villa scored. Of course we had no problems there seeing as we didn't have a single shot on target! lol. My point is that it was very interesting to see Villa from the other side, as an away team visiting. The Arsenal fans around us didn't seem to say a single word about villa. It was a bit like being at villa park when teams like Wigan, Blackpool or Bolton visited us. There didn't seem to be any fear that the visiting team would make any kind of impact. It was pretty hard to take seeing Villa as irrelevant and an easy 3 points in the eyes of the Arsenal fans. Our performance was beyond shocking, it was spiritless and clueless. It made me think that perhaps the way we have played under Mcleish this season has altered the clubs identity and we are now perceived as a bottom half of the table team. Maybe this status has gradually rubbed off on the players and they have started playing like that type of team. If Mcleish is saying stupid things such as "we need to be realistic" to the fans then god knows what he's saying to the players behind closed doors each week in training. There doesn't seem to be any belief in our performances at all. I'm just speculating but maybe this has something to do with it. Bottom line is, the teams too good to be where they are. A good manager would have these players in the top half of the league and consider it transitional before a Europa league push next season. I fear if Mcleish get's another season then this transitional period will be us pushing for top 10 next season. No ambition, no belief ad no spirit. :(
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26/03/2012 15:48:00

I think you have answered your own question and yes we are that bad to be 15th! You pick faults with virtually every player, throw into the mix injuries and its easy to see why we are where we are. Look at our bench on saturday and the first 11 wasn't exactly great!!
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26/03/2012 15:52:00

Fear, I have believed that McLeish has needed time. However you have written a good article and its hard to argue with your main conclusion that the squad is better than 15th. So why are we where we are? There is only one conclusion - there seems to be a lack of real desire to win at the top. I'd rather take the occasional pasting but see effort and a will to win than some of the performances to date: away at Wigan comes to mind as a dreadful display for no reason at all..
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26/03/2012 15:55:00

The one question I would ask is how many of our players would a top 10 side actually want to buy? bent probably and Given maybe. Other than that I can't see a lot there!
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26/03/2012 15:57:00

Even though we've had a poor season, we are still not very away from the teams you've listed. That just shows how generally mediocre the Premier League is. More importantly, it shows how vital teamwork and motivation is. We seem to lack both at the moment.
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26/03/2012 15:58:00

Just following on from my earlier comments: I would buy the transition argument if I could see improvement but the sad fact is that we seem to be getting worse, not better. And the excuses are getting worse too. To blame the lack of Jenas when we knew the risks when signing him seem to make that argument appear desperate.
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26/03/2012 15:58:00

All those teams above us would say the same things about our players. Bent and Given are the only 2 stand out players in our side. The rest of the team are distinctly average. If nzogbia and ireland can get firing next season then we could see an improvement. i think our youngsters on current form are way overrated. Albrighton has had loads of chances this season, about 20 apps and hes been utter garbage
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26/03/2012 16:02:00

i think to show no real improvement throughout the season is just bonkers... But then the team shows what it can do against chelsea away? I know they aren't the best at the moment but explain that one? Just a few key players on form? I don't know I just get the impression he isn't a great man manager...
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26/03/2012 16:28:00

This is where the confusion comes in Gordonsleftboot, think we both struggle on a similar line to be honest, logic says he needs time, transition, needs to bring in his own players etc... but the proof in front of the eyes just argues the opposite to me and the capitulations or even worse, the games where we look like we've just given the oppo a training game is a major worry. The winning spirit has to come from McLeish. One of his quotes is saying he can't tell them every single thing to do, (he does micro manage on the touchline, bit more than many, not as much as some I guess) but he misses the point, you instill the fight into the players, they then go out and do their job. The fact he is telling them which blade of grass to stand on is undermining and confusing to them.
The Fear
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26/03/2012 18:03:00

not sure Pauled177, some I agree would, but would the Norwich/Swansea fans for a start have expected if asked at the start of the season, to be above our lot?
The Fear
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26/03/2012 18:04:00

Or we could just look at the teams above us and compare players? Now say the likes of Swansea, Norwich, Sunderland and Albion have a better team...NO they don't, it's all about tactics and style of play, attack is the best form of defense, proven time and time again...It's all Mcleish, it's that simple. Fed up of having to give reason for this, it's clearly obvious!
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26/03/2012 18:27:00

Was going to reply to one of your posts the other day when you said that Eck needs time Gordon. Seems you've replied for me and Eck is bringing down even the most optimistic Villans.
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26/03/2012 18:35:00

And yes Fear, I've only been to away games this year but never sat so close to the dugout. It was seriously embarrassing. Grant would sit down with Eck for a tactic talk and they'd both get up and shout across to different players. Can see why they've been told to F Off by several players already. There's a game going on. How can they concentrate regardless that the info being shouted across is most likely worthless. The shaking of their heads in trying to make themselves look blameless, ie. " if they were doing what we told them, we'd be 10-0 up by now" is not fooling anyone except maybe Randy.
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26/03/2012 18:40:00

3 extra wins would hav us challenging for 7th and to have got those wins would not have taken much , perhaps just a little more adventure at Blackburn Wigan QPR and or beating the Baggies at hope . We don't need to beat the top ten we need to beat the bottom 10 twice . It should not be beyond this set of players , should it?
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26/03/2012 18:42:00

Ecks tactics have us where we are as the table doesn't lie!
holte ender 1969
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26/03/2012 19:20:00

Newcastle have overtaken us imo... and swansea and norwich actually have teams who play for each other... our team seems a bit rag tag and i dont rate our players like i use to..
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26/03/2012 19:43:00

ya villan57 and 15 extra wins and we would be 1st! its the tatics and mentality thats the problem, none of the fans expect us to go and win every game or ANY game for that matter, and ECK is so negative its obviously rubbed off on the players and they have lost all hope and belief that they can win a game, and im afraid your right Thom85 most teams see us as an easy 3 points now, and if you ask most other non villa fans they would see us as a bottom half team and that again comes from our style of play and the manager we hired, our manager sees avoiding relgation as a success and there lies the problem, his mentality is completly wrong for Villa and for any team who has not just been promoted, he has had time now and WE HAVE ONLY GOTTEN WORSE even any fan still willing to give him time must see that the only way Villa can ever move forward is for Randy to admit he made a mistake and sack ECK!! simple...
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26/03/2012 19:45:00

7th or 8th is par for the squad imo. Above is good management, below is bad management, 15th is joke management.
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26/03/2012 20:45:00

We had & lost: Laursen, Barry, Milner and Young - all top class players. Swansea can keep the ball even against teams like Arsenal; none of our outfield players are very skillful - Hutton? Collins? Dunne? Warnock? Herd? Heskey? Gabby? Delph? None of the senior 'kids' have yet proved themselves as premiership players let alone top 6 premiership players although we all believe Gardner will make it. Personally I wish we still had Craig Gardner, Steve Davis and Gary Cahill. Newcastle have bought well and 'added value' whilst none of Mon's dross has a significant market value
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27/03/2012 00:58:00

Thom85 I feel the same way mate and think you hit the nail on the head there. This appointment will never work and any other club would have sacked him by now had all this go on. Randy must not care or watch the games because if he was a football man he would sit there and watch us serve up this dire lackluster tripe.
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27/03/2012 08:46:00

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27/03/2012 08:54:00

great post Thom85.
The Fear
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27/03/2012 10:38:00

agree distefano, I'm with you on the keeping Craig Gardner one as well, he was a good tough midfielder who, if given a chance, could score but also could fill in several positions.
The Fear
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27/03/2012 10:39:00

One of the worst excuses I see put forward is it isnt "his" team how can this be used as an excuse what manager takes over and has "his team" in the first 2 years ? very few. Alan Pardue at Newcastle like us a decent squad which he added to with a few decent buys (and he sold Carrol to Liverpool at the time their best forward) yes their team is overperforming maybe but surely thats the sign of a good man manager not lame excuses and poor tactics.
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27/03/2012 10:59:00

Our manager really is THAT bad!
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27/03/2012 13:46:00


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