Monday, 21 April 2008

Aston Villa's season of promise

On the podcast, myself and JJ try to cut through the bullshit that surrounds the Premier League and other major football tournaments. We don't always get it right, but hey, who does?

Villa, under new boss Martin O'Neill finished an underwhelming 11th in the league in 2006/07. Despite this, O'Neill was built up the press and fans as a world class manager. It was an improvement on O'Leary's last season in charge (05/06) when they finished 16th, but a bit of perspective was needed when the hype kicked in.

Villa's signings last summer were mediocre at best - also rans such as Harewood (West Ham reject), Carew(Euro has-been) and Zat Knight(never had it) were joined by players with potential, such as Curtis Davies(league Cup 'specialist') and Nigel Reo-Coker (disloyal West Ham trouble maker).
A number of players were shipped out, leaving Villa with one the smallest first team squads in the league.
It all pointed to more mid table obscurity for Villa, and a gross mis-calculation by O'Neill in the transfer market.

As Max Bialystock asked in The Producers: "We got the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did we go right?"

What went right indeed. What is biggest effect on their excellent season - in 6th place after 15 goals in the past 3 games, with Everton buckling in 5th?

Is it the lumbering Carew, top scorer with 12, last seen playing well in 2001 AD? The electric Ashley Young, a young man with, ahem, a firm grip on things? Alan Hansen's dream man, Gabi Agbonlahor ("pace, power, aggression")?
Or the steady influence in midfield of Barry and Reo-Coker? The great displays of Laursen, Mellberg, and even Wilfred Bouma!? The lack of full-backs?

How did O'Neill get this so right?
And what can we expect next season?


Cathal O'Brien said...

I think O'Neill is a good manager, I like his no bullshit attitude.

drowning seagull said...

kudos to o'neill and the villa boys. gareth barry is obviously a class act that is finally getting the recognition he deserves, but they've got a great squad together and, with a bit more depth, could be amongst the big boys next season.