[quote_center]’Remember Robert Duverne? The Grim Reaper of Bodymoor Heath?'[/quote_center]
38 Point Men
The tenure of Alex McLeish as Aston Villa boss is often best forgotten, although to be fair to him, without him, My Old Man Said would have never have started (long story). McLeish’s end of season haul of 38 points as Villa boss was ultimately his downfall. Basically, if a Villa manager drops below the 40 point mark, the axe should drop.
The funny thing was though, we all thought it was a one-off, Paul Lambert walked through the door and thoughts turned to future greener pastures, but the next Scotsman up to tackle the Villa job, registered an unimpressive 41 points in his first season and followed it up with 38 points too. Interestingly though, instead of getting the boot ala his predecessor, Lambert, four games into the next season, got a brand-spanking new contract.
One of the mitigating factors that is always thrown up for Lambert’s failure is the amount of injuries his team had. Of course, we all know about Ron Vlaar being a repeat offender, then there was long-term blows for Jores Okore and Libor Kozak and crucially Christian Benteke. But in reality, how does his injury count compare to other Villa managers in the past five seasons?
Pre My Old Man Said, I always remember the amount of injuries Gerrard Houlier’s Villa team picked up in training seemed farcical. Remember Robert Duverne? Rather than being this fitness guru that had worked under Houllier at Lyon and for the French Football Federation, at Villa, he was more like the Grim Reaper of Bodymoor Heath. His double fitness sessions seemed to cripple the first team squad at times, and his methods were viewed with increasing suspicion.
Surprisingly from the table below, it is McLeish’s 2011/12 that serves up the most player injuries when compared to Lambert’s first two seasons, Houllier’s 2010/11 season and Martin O’Neill’s final season.
McLeish suffered a total of 45 injuries, including the blow of having Darren Bent out for half of a season. Lambert’s biggest tally of 32, doesn’t come close. Even Houllier’s injury-plagued reign falls behind it, and it’s O’Neill’s final season that comes in at number two.
Okay, we’re simply dealing with purely the numbers here and not evaluating if they were key players or not, but all of the Villa managers lost key men along the way of their respective seasons. You could also point the finger at a manager’s training methods or buying ill-plagued players for being responsible for mounting injuries, so it’s not totally a matter of a manager having bad luck.
Still, the notion of Lambert having a tough ride with injuries is something of a myth when you compare the injury numbers under his reign to his immediate predecessors. UTV
See the MOMS article on the most injured and longest injured Villa player of the past five seasons
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