There are few dull moments down at Villa Park, as the new management regime takes shape and as the revolving door of players keeps spinning. Villa, it appears, set to be a team which will be in transition for a second consecutive season. Time will tell whether this is a healthy position to be in.
N’Zogbia deal imminent:
The reaction to the progress in securing N’Zogbia’s signature has been muted to say the least. We are acquiring a man whom for all his natural talent and attributes, brings a temperament and unpredictability to the squad. Presumably he will share a room with Stephen Ireland on away trips.
N’Zogbia is a complex person as much as he is a footballing talent. All that we have to hope is that the former can be managed. He would join aged just 25, and would slot more logically into the team as a natural replacement for Ashley Young rather than Downing.
Whilst N’Zogbia’s goalscoring form has been unremarkable aside from last season (10 in 38), he is a tricky, powerful attacking midfielder who we will need to craft opportunities for Darren Bent. He caused havoc at Villa Park last season as Wigan fought for survival.
With a fee purported to be in the region of £10 Million, it appears, in this day and age at least, relatively shrewd business. Assuming matters are wrapped up promptly and competently. The latter will be of concern to all Villa fans.
Villa have agreed a fee with Manchester City (believed to be around £5 Million) and have been in talks for seemingly forever with the Republic of Ireland ‘keeper. Assuming there are no final hitches, securing the services of one of the most solid and proven goalkeepers in the Premiership would be excellent work.
Indeed, whilst it would be unfair to say that Villa “lost” predecessor Freidel to Tottenham, at 40 years old it was time to be realistic and time to part company. For all of the wonderful performances Brad Freidel put in for the club, the professionalism and consistency, one could be forgiven at times for wondering what the next step was. The next step is most certainly acquiring Given, who at 35 and when looking at his experience – anything around the £5 Million mark is most agreeable. The sooner this deal is wrapped up, the better.
As an aside, this probably puts to bed any prospect of perennial bench warmer Brad Guzan making the number ‘1’ shirt his own.
Carlos Cuellar to return to Rangers?
It is difficult to comprehend the clubs position on Carlos. A player purchased as the SPL’s player of the season, as a centre half, and has since been deployed as much as possible at right back. It is unfathomable how based upon the performances on (and off) the pitch of James Collins and Richard Dunne, that Cuellar wasn’t given a shot. And it’s not like when he was picked he let the side down; a MOTM performance versus Wolves springs to mind.
Even more baffling is a fee of £2 Million being banded around. Who is more crazy? Rangers to offer it? Or God forbid, if Villa were to accept it? Now – Carlos Cuellar might not be a world beater, but from what has been seen he has to be at least as good (if not better) than anyone we could reasonably expect to replace him with. This isn’t Zat Knight we’re talking about here. Therefore, the sale of Cuellar would be viewed very dimly indeed.
There was plenty said in the run up to Downing’s inevitable switch to Liverpool (most of the home truths hurt their fans) and it need not be repeated. But where does this leave Villa? Well, a few million pounds richer and hopefully able to secure an equally adequate replacement in N’Zogbia, with change.
Because, for all of Downing’s qualities, promising probably sums up his Villa Park career overall. His first season, forgettable; injuries and finding his feet. His second and final year is all there is to refer to. He was an occasional shining light in a complete and utter disaster of a campaign. And one in which Downing only performed notably well in for 3 months! Whilst there were certainly glimpses of a fine footballer, it would be misleading to suggest that he was consistent or that there were not entire games in which he went missing as Villa fought for their top flight status.
Downing is a talented player, but it’s hard to honestly say there’s a £20 Million midfielder who is going to fire anyone to domestic or European honours hidden away. And with that, we move on.
>> What are your thoughts on N’Zogbia, Downing, Given & Cuellar? Add your views in the comments below or on Twitter.