What We Learnt as Villa Fans as Defensive Crisis Looms

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By Chris Kemps

A mixed bag of news reports surfaced from a traditionally quiet International break weekend. Short term, it’s not good. Long term, there’s a glimmer of hope.


While all Villa eyes were on Fabian Delph against Estonia, the big story came from Maribor, Slovenia, where in the 70th minute defender Philippe Senderos left the field with a thigh muscle strain and is expected to miss some significant playing time. What with Ron Vlaar still not fit, it means Villa will be patching up key defensive spots for the trip to Everton this weekend.

The lesson to be learned here is that you get what you pay for. Senderos has a long history of injury and while the price was right, and there is no doubt he’s been a fabulous signing so far this season, buying a cheap, older model defender is a lot like buying a cheap, older model car – it’s a bargain… as long as it doesn’t break down.

Let’s hope this mechanical failure just needs a set of new spark plugs, not a head gasket…


… or in Ron Vlaar’s case, an expiring MOT. The hacks are at it again, most likely putting their best guess work into overdrive and pumping up talk that the Dutch defender will be headed to Old Trafford as early as January.


That’s not in anyway dismissive to Vlaar’s talent or stature. He could stay at Villa and be seen as another Martin Laursen. Or he could move to Manchester United, double his wages (according to the press) and play for them. If an offer came in, the club and the player would work something out and that would be that. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

Ron is expected to be back at the weekend, but if he was to leave in January, the fact is we need someone (two someones would be nice) to shore up the defense given the injury to Senderos (if it turns out to be long-term). The defensive pairing of Clark and Baker was very rarely convincing, prompting the signing of Senderos in the first place.

The speculation is that Villa would rather cash-in for £4m in January rather than lose him for nothing in June when his contract expires. It sounds plausible and downright depressing. But however this story pans out, how will Villa patch up the cracks until one or both of their best defenders are back in the team? A long view is short-sighted – points win prizes, and regardless of whose shirt Vlaar is wearing in 2015, Villa have to work with what they have to get some wins. Otherwise, the fine start to the season will be undone before Christmas.


But maybe there’s some hope…

Jores Okore must be very close to being ready to come back to the senior team: and his timing is perfect.

He turned up in the most-closely followed U-21 game in memory when he played along with Benteke in the big comeback game against Bolton. The 22-year old is on the road to full fitness after his horrific ligament injury against Newcastle last season.

He came through a key U-21 game against Iceland this week uninjured, with only a late booking to blemish his performance. Villa fans will learn how brave Paul Lambert is when the squad is named against Everton – do you go with what you know (a dicey Clark/Baker combo)? Or gamble on a defender even Lambert has probably seen more of on YouTube.com than in competitive games?


Maybe £20,000 a week doesn’t seem like much to footballers these days. But if that sum is anywhere near accurate, Jack Grealish still has a lot to do to prove to Villa fans he’s worth anywhere near that. Even Hull bought into his hype and potential by kicking lumps out of him rather than let the Villa Park faithful FINALLY see what he could do. And the only way he can show his worth is be on the field, preferably on the wing, ideally in a conventional 4-4-2.

So, how about it, Paul? Put your mouth where your money is and let him rip.


Calling All Villans!


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