The Week In Villa (1)
Ah, it's good to be back! Let's jump straight in...
Wednesday, 1st August
So August starts off with inevitable news; Ron Vlaar in from Feyenoord, James Collins off to West Ham.
I can`t say I have seen much of Vlaar so I don`t have a massive opinion at this stage but I am certainly optimistic. For one thing our last Dutch international was Freddy Bouma, and frankly, given what has happened in his position since he left, he should probably still be at the club. Cheers Martin.
Anyway, back to the present day and there are a couple of reasons I like Vlaar already. First of all, I hear that his nickname is in Holland is 'Concrete Ron`. I like him.
Secondly, he has - impressively in my opinion - asked to meet the fans straight away. This is due to happen on Friday at the Villa Village. Can`t help but like that.
Onto James Collins and I am delighted he is gone. He was just never good enough. People slag Richard Dunne off a lot but I find it honest to god mind boggling that anyone can prefer Collins over him. Dunne makes some daft clangers but Collins is constantly out of position, he is dangerous because he thinks he can play and while I admire his bravery on the pitch, he is just overall one of the worst defenders I have seen in a Villa shirt.
Speaking of worst defenders I have seen in a Villa shirt, Alan Hutton has been linked to Stoke, which would be wonderful. Hopefully Stephen Warnock is off too.
It`s ridiculous, from Nielsen/Paul McGrath/Mountfield, to Barrett/McGrath/Shaun Teale/Staunton, to Ehiogu/McGrath/Southgate then Ehiogu/Gareth Southgate/Gareth Barry, I spent the first ten years or so as a Villa fan seeing us with one of the best defences in the league. Olaf Mellberg/Martin Laursen aside, standards have definitely dropped since those days but Hutton/Collins/Dunne/Warnock was an all-time low!
But I digress. The squad numbers are out today and Jean Makoun isn`t listed. Hmm. Also, if anyone was expecting Hutton to be 'demoted`, he may well have been but Matthew Lowton has asked for 34; no point in insulting Hutton for the sake of it so he remains at 2 for now. Oh and Stiliyan Petrov is still 19, as he should be.
In addition to all this, we have a game tonight! It`s an away day at Peterborough. I went there a couple of seasons ago, Curtis Davies scored a remarkably good goal, it was the best thing I ever saw him do in a Villa shirt. But I am not there tonight, so will have to wait for the highlights tomorrow.
We won 2-0 though, with Daniel Johnson (who I have been impressed with in pre-season) and Brett Holman (probably the best thing about 'Ecks reign) getting the goals.
Makoun has since been announced as No 17.
Thursday, 2nd August
I have now seen the goals. There were about 3427 passes before Holman smashed it in, which was very pleasing to see.
James Nursery tweeted that we may still be looking at another centre-back, and that he can see us getting another CB, LB, CF and winger "if N'Zogbia doesn`t pull his finger out". Could be a few more twists and turns in this transfer market yet.
In non-Villa but relevant-to-Villa news, Randy Lerner has sold the Cleveland Browns. For over $1bn. That`s a lot of moolah! We wait to see what happens, either a) nothing; b) investment in Villa; c) he sells Villa. Will probably be a cross between a) and b) in my opinion. We may see a small release of funds, but ultimately, I think there will be very little effect on Villa.
But in far more important news than anything written above or below, the club have released a statement saying that Stan has gone into remission. It goes without saying that this is brilliant news.
Friday, 3rd August
Very quiet today, nothing much to report at all. Forest tomorrow, I`ll be there.
Saturday, 4th August
As mentioned, I went to Forest (and was one of the 'late` people that caused the late kick off, sorry everyone!) and as you will know by now, we lost 3-1. The first half was okay, we kept the ball well and had at least one perfectly good goal disallowed. The second half was where all the goals came and we were awful really. Still, no point in getting too negative about a loss in pre-season, just like there is no point in getting too excited about a win in pre-season.
There are certain things; Warnock is a professional footballer, and that confuses me, I honestly don`t know how that happened. N`Zogbia looked interested in the first half and not in the second half. I would certainly not shed a tear if he was to leave any time soon. It is a real shame that Darren Bent has missed large parts of pre-season, he looked like he needed one. But he has got *some* game time, hopefully he`ll get the full 90 minutes in on Saturday and ideally bang a goal or two in as well!
Over the course of pre-season, certain things have occurred to me. First of all, it is apparent that we are now into the third season of a James Milner-shaped hole in midfield. Secondly, I really want to see a new left-back. Thirdly, we have no 'out` in terms of a wide player. Maybe if Marc Albrighton had got a proper pre-season in, he may be looking like he has a new vigour about him like Barry Bannan appears to have, but even then, what other options do we have? Fourth and finally, we need another striker and it needs to be an alternative style to what we have already.
Which I guess means I still want us to bring in a central midfielder, left back, winger and forward. That would appear to be what I am thinking! So is there any chance of this, you Aston Villa type people?
Sunday, 5th August
Sunday`s in pre-season are traditionally big transfer rumour days. However, the Olympics are on, and that means journalists have enough to keep them occupied rather than making up lies about footballers changing clubs. There`s nothing to see here, move along folks.
Monday, 6th August
It`s another quiet day. Even the reports that Hutton can get the heck out of Villa Park are nothing new. They are still a pleasure to see though, obviously.
Alan Hutton. Why?
Tuesday, 7th August
We have a mixed bag of small news items today. We`ve been linked with Steven Fletcher at Wolves, (with prices of £10m-£14m being mentioned. Hmm) and a loan move for Spurs` Danny Rose. Bit of news of the youngsters - the U-19`s have finished 3rd in a tournament over in Holland, and the NextGen fixtures are out. Annoyingly I can`t make two of the group games but I think I will make the Celtic game. You know, in case you care, like!
Shay Given has suggested that Benjamin Siegrist would benefit from a loan spell this season; I concur.
Finally, ex-Villan Freddie Bouma has kicked off a new 'Cult Heroes' Q&A series on the OS. I love that bloke!
Speak to you next week folks.