A Venglos View
By Kerry Lenihan
There was no doubt a few Villa fans out there who struggled to hide a mischievous smile when Mellberg netted that goal against England (the guy stops at nothing to wind up the noses), or tweeted words of encouragement following Bouma’s call up to the Holland squad, or even watched with a dash of pride at fellow Villa fan Sean St Ledger ‘s cheeky goal against Croatia.
So consider this, if Aston Villa had entered a team at the Euro’s containing some of its former/current players, how would it have fared?
Bouma Dunne Mellberg St Ledger
Young Milner Barry Downing
There’s some slight cheating to fill the odd position, in that Barry didn’t actually make it to the tournament (but well Downing/Bouma never touched the ball either) and St Ledger has never actually played for the Claret + Blue army despite being a fan of the club, but he’s on record as a Holte End season ticket holder, so gets the nod over the other Villa fan Joleon Lescott (who’s also scored too many goals against Villa for our liking). With two fit strikers, there was no need to call on Darren Bent, who would have probably made it in the real England squad, if he’d been match fit.
The team formation is an old school 4-4-2, but does boast a decent Villa midfield quartet of recent times, before Villa got pillaged by the Manchester clubs and an ungrateful Downing turned into a Scouse Judas.
So in true fantasy fashion, since this is no more than a dream (or nightmare team), the stats have been borrowed from my Metro fantasy football account in order to compare the ‘team’ to the others within the tournament.
How would the Villa XI have done?
Total Points: 876*
Spain 3526 / England 1890 / Ireland 833
A very low scoring team that’s slightly better than Ireland. However, obviously this figure is merely assumptive, considering some of the players listed above never touched the ball and only Milner/Young/Baros advanced past the group stages.
Barry, would have upped the total had he been fit, as he continues to be instrumental within Manchester City’s midfield; he has a pass completion rate of 86.2%. He might not be the flashiest, but provides his team mates with options to move in front of him and pass the ball back, keeping the ball moving. He covered over 173 miles last season, therefore his work rate is impressive still, hard-working and precise, he would be sure to bag a few points.
As for Downing, well erm the less said the better… He hasn’t exactly shone at Liverpool has he? It was pretty shocking that he made the England squad, however it is of course debatable that the squad was picked purely on current form, but that’s another story.
A surprise addition to the Dutch squad, Bouma was unlucky not to get any match time, but then again Holland were perhaps the shock of the tournament in terms of underperforming.
As for the rest …
Given – had a bit of a nightmare in general (first Croatian goal – oh deary me) however did arguable pull off the save of the tournament against Spain, by throwing his hand out to deny Xavi, convincingly edging the ball around the post.
St Ledger – actually blocked the most shots within the tournament, at a grand total of 8, impressive.
Dunne –similar to his role at the Villa, he wasted the ball, gave away cheap fouls and was especially poor at defending set pieces
Mellberg – is he back? The beard says yes.
Young – largely missing in action. When his country needed him to dive for a penalty in the quarter-final to get the edge over Italy, where was he?
Milner – energetic, willing to commit, functional but overall not much of a threat.
Baros – poor at the Villa, still poor now…and thankfully retired from International football now.
Keane – Ran his little socks off but just didn’t have the chances
Prediction: Group Stage
With half the team over 30-years-old, the aging team AV sadly just don’t have the sparkle or the star quality to progress any further than the group stages. Although if the Czechs got out of Group A with Baros upfront as a lone striker, then anything is possible. One thing’s for sure, given the recent history of Villa’s international penalty takers, they’d have crashed out if any knock-out game went to a penalty shoot-out.
What would be the value of the Villa XI?
59 million* –Even in Fantasy Football terms this valuation is pretty cheap for an international team, especially when theoretically compared with Spain (87m), and Germany (85m) but interestingly not the cheapest with Greece at a purse pleasing 52m…
On an aside, here’s the market value of the real national squads that were in the Euros. Spain’s tournament win reflects their position in the table. While we can see the likes of Germany, England and France all underperformed in relation to their squad values, while Italy sixth in the table, punched above their weight in making the final.
For more tenuous Villa Euro 2012 links – see this
*AVFC season ticket holder Kerry Lenihan is MOMS first signing of the preseason and will be contributing regularly as preseason kicks in and our focus switches to the reality of Villa happenings on the pitch, and not just whatever excuse we can find to mention the Villa!
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