Due to Aston Villa’s cup failings last month, they had the weekend off to contemplate the relegation battle ahead. Looking at Millwall’s path since that ill-fated Friday night at the Den, if Villa had taken care of cup business in one week in January, they’d be odds-on for an FA Cup Wembley semi-final to go with the Wembley final they should have been contesting next week. Moving on swiftly, with no game this weekend, did we still learn anything last week as Aston Villa fans?
1 – The (bad) luck of the Irish
News surfaced this week that temperamental midfielder Stephen Ireland had been training with the reserves recently. A little harsh, perhaps, but hardly surprising. This more than likely spells the end of Ireland’s tenure at Villa and we can fully expect him to depart for new pastures come the summer. A move that will largely be for the best, in my opinion, as he’s commanding a large wage and not performing well enough consistently (or, simply enough at all) to justify it.
2 – He won’t be the only one
Richard Dunne, Shay Given and Darren Bent all seem fairly certain to follow him out the door. Bent, and possibly Given, will command a fee, which can be used to replenish the squad, though any money gained will need to be spent on replacing the experience we’re letting go. None of those three have covered themselves with glory recently, but they’ve been around the block a few times and that is something in short supply at the club right now.
3 – Talk is cheap
Christian Benteke’s agent can talk all he likes, but the ball is firmly in our court whether we stay up or go down. He’ll not be at the club for long, that’s for sure, but if another team wants to try their luck then they’re going to have to dig deep, and I mean deep! This, of course, isn’t the first time this has happened and we’re used to news like this now. Whenever we seem to have a very good player on our books there are inevitably a queue of clubs waiting in the wings to snap them up. They usually go, eventually, but they’re frequently replaced and if Benteke’s goals keep us afloat, then that’s money well spent and money well-earned from his sale.
4 – Go Hell for leather
If there’s one thing we know about the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City, it’s that they don’t respond well to being in a scrap. As Reading and Southampton have shown recently, if you get in their grill, they stumble. These are two difficult games that few of us imagine getting anything out of, but we’ll give ourselves a better chance if we fight. It’s time for Charles N’Zogbia to start hurting people like he promised.
5 – Lovely weekend
A little boring, but it was nice to not be taken to the brink of a heart attack because of The Villa. Of course, I’ll complain of constant boredom during the off-season, but every now and again, especially when the team are struggling, a weekend off from the trials and tribulations is most welcome.
Steven Green is one of the hosts of AVFC Review podcast and writer for Shoot Magazine.
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