Lets be honest…Gabby Agbonlahor was mainly known for great moments rather than great seasons. He was never the 20 goal-a-season striker that Villa needed in the last decade.
13 league goals in a season was Agbonlahor’s best effort and he only broke into double figures three times in ten seasons as a regular first teamer (Christian Benteke managed to do that within just three seasons).
Frank Lampard in comparison, got into double figures for league goals in 10 of his seasons at Chelsea, and that was from midfield.
If you think Agbonlahor’s record is enough to consider him as a club ‘legend’ as a striker, then Aston Villa really are doomed as a club if supporters have such low expectations.
In April 2012, after Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov’s diagnosis with leukaemia, Agbonlahor was named team captain. That was his time to step up and become the ‘Mr Villa’ he and his fans thought he was.
He didn’t become the team’s leader though, despite MOMS wishful thinking. MOMS though admittedly has never been a big fan, as he doesn’t seem to have a proper striker’s shooting ability, but due to his pace and power he was always a good option to have in the squad, depending on the opponent.
Soon though, he’s influence faded in having any impact on any game, exemplified when Gary Neville mocked him on Sky TV’s live coverage of a Villa game in which Gabby had had eight touches in the first half of the game…and two of those were from the kick-off.
One Contract Too Many
Lerner seemed to think that Gabby was some kind of club talisman and gave him a further four-year contract in September 2014. He seemed to think it was a popular move to keep supporters happy.
Did MOMS miss something? In the previous season, Gabby had only managed to score 4 league goals in 30 league appearances. In fact, he hadn’t got into double figures in the league since the 2009/10 season. That’s over six years ago. The only conclusion is that Aston Villa under Randy Lerner was a very dumb club when it came to Agbonlahor and many other player contracts.
This isn’t a matter of hindsight, MOMS ran an article in August 2014, posing the question Is Gabby Agbonlahor Now Holding Aston Villa Back? Well, we know the answer to that and he should never have been granted a new four-year contract. Maybe an extra year’s extension to prove himself, tops.
The player himself seemed to be on cruise control after his last contract was signed and he knew he had financial security into his thirties.
A year later, Charles N’Zogbia started ahead of him in the FA Cup final against Arsenal, which was a clear indication he needed to pull his finger out, but Agbonlahor didn’t seem to respond.
Agbonlahor was named club captain at the start of the 2015–16 season by Tim Sherwood to give him the responsibly to focus his mind on being one of Villa’s main performers.
It’s saying something that his last goal, against Norwich earlier this year was his first goal in 11 months. The Birmingham Mail headline that greeted it – ‘Aston Villa: Gabby Agbonlahor is a Holte End hero once again’ – is typical of the falsehood that he remains some kind of local hero.
Regarded as unfit by Remi Garde and anyone with 20-20 vision, he had only got a place in the team due to injuries to Rudy Gestede and Libor Kozak.
On the evening Villa got relegated, Gabby was partying the night away. He became tabloid fodder; photographed with shisha pipes and laughing gas. In short, he became Villa’s fool, poster boy for the demise of the club.
When Tony Xia took the club over, he came to the club unburdened by any sentimentality towards Agbonlahor, he saw the Villa striker for what he had become – a disruptive influence in the dressing room and a poor role model for younger Villa players.
Xia publically challenged the Villa striker to man-up, and a proposed loan period at Reading would have given Agbonlahor a chance to prove himself. He declined it and on transfer deadline day made it known on Instagram that he was a waterpark with his kids, rather than looking for a new club.
When Agbonlahor signed his last Villa contract, he stated in an interview with Sky Sports:
“I am just delighted. It is great news for me and my family and I think it good news for the club as well and I look forward to repaying their faith in them.”
It was great news for him financially, but did he repay the club or Villa fans for their faith? No.
In the same interview, Gabby also stated, “I’ve always said I only wanted to play for one side and that dream has come true.”
He seemed to have forgotten earlier loan periods to both Watford and Sheffield Wednesday.
Agbonlahor will need to go on loan again in January to have ANY chance of playing for Aston Villa again. The quicker he realises that, the better for everyone. If he doesn’t, Agbonlahor may find he’s already played his last ever game for Villa.
If he wants to remain a ‘one club player’, he’ll have to retire.