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Aston Villa
Posted by Jerrad Peters on 01/05/2011

Aston Villa’s on-field performances provoke so much head scratching it’s enough to give one a rash. An embarrassing 4-0 trouncing at Manchester City; a gutsy, 3-3 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Of course, there are no shortage of questions off the field, either. What has become of Stephen Ireland? Does the club have any sort of transfer strategy? When did Robert Pires become Gerard Houllier’s press officer?

The latter question is particularly illuminating. With the club coming under increased levels of criticism and in its most precarious position since the days of David O’Leary, Pires - he of four appearances in a Villa shirt - has emerged as the default mouthpiece.

It’s as ridiculous as it is informative. Given that the 37-year-old only joined the club in November, under no circumstances should he so much as open his mouth about team affairs. That he has reveals two things.

One: there is nothing resembling leadership in the current squad. It’s a void that was never properly filled when Martin Laursen retired, and with Stiliyan Petrov out of commission for much of the first half of the season, the lack of it was especially evident. Richard Dunne has had a terrible campaign and doesn’t seem to command significant respect among his teammates. And, according to Pires, several players have already clashed with the manager. Dunne is obviously one of them.

Two: Houllier doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. Tactically, his 4-2-3-1 formation seemed inspired when he first arrived at Villa Park, but its effectiveness lasted all of three games. As a man manager he has been even more inept. He’s been at the club less than four months, but is already dealing with player revolts. According to Pires, he’s not doing a very good job. “There will be a lot of departures,” claimed the midfielder.

That Pires has become, and has been allowed to become, Aston Villa’s resident expert on team morale and transfer policy is preposterous. He has no business saying anything about either issue. But it’s important that he has. It says a lot about the state of the club at the moment. And it’s not a healthy state.


Posted by Neil johnson on 01/06/2011

Villa are where they should be; below Birmingham. Pires can keep talking as much as he wants.

Posted by Bill on 01/06/2011

Sickens me watching my Villa. Houllier hasn't a clue. All of those defending his hire should be ashamed bashing MON. Pires stark truth about what is going on shows Villa has to make a change now. Otherwise, Lerner will be depending on that parachute payment to get Villa back up after the drop. Think MON would ever have said something like" Hey, glad I lost to Leicester if I had to lose to someone"? This man is a joke. He wasn't sure he wanted the job for a few weeks when he finally accepted it. Now, he doesn't know what to do being back in the EPL. His tactics are excellent...if it still were 2002. He has effectively destroyed all the good chemistry that the coach most of you reviled had built over the last 4 years. Won't some of you have the guts to come out and say you were wrong and that he was a bad hire? The man has no spark, no feel for the EPL 2011. He has to go or Villa will be down.This is beyond embarrassing. Hey, at least he played a 4-4-2 today.

Posted by rod pittams on 01/06/2011

pires has been at the club for 5 minutes, so I won't gauge to much on what he says. maybe it's about time players were put on performance based bonus's and let their feet do the talking and not their mouths. Com'th the man com'th the hour, to be fair how much time has houllier got to turn things around before he is shown the door. We must look to buy in the transfer window (a striker that can score goals is a must) and someone in the middle of the park that deliver a decent ball and control play around him. One must ask what has gone wrong from a club that over the last 3 seasons has managed a top 6 placing with basically the same squad to a team that is now looking at battling relegation.

Posted by Paul on 01/06/2011

GH needs to go, and Kevin Mac another go. We play Gabby and Ashley out of position last night, and GH is too stuborn and nieve tactically to change during the game. Lets go back to 4-4-2 with Ashley, Stuart or Marc out wide and either Carew, Gabby or Heskey in the middle.

Posted by Derrick Ivan Dunn on 01/07/2011

This is embarrassing for my beloved Aston Villa in the drop zone in 2011. The appointment of Houllier was crazy, he has no idea of what he is doing. He has no control of the dressing room. i believe if was good enough he should have build on the foundation MON left. This is the same crop of players that finished sixth in the league last season.

Posted by JOHN RANKLE on 01/08/2011

The biggest New Year presents from GH and the owner to the fans is to put Villa in bottom three position. Great job boss!

Posted by Rob on 01/09/2011

Bill. MON walked out. He jumped. He was not pushed.

Posted by Bongo on 01/10/2011

I have to say, I'm not the biggest fan of GH, I think he has taken a team that perfomed so well over the last few seasons and turned it into the disfunctional unit we see today, but to all the people who want to hold MON up and say it never would have happeed under him, you are right. He walked out on us before it did.....and only a few days before the start of the new season, no less. That's far worse than someone who is struggling to get the performances he should be, in my opinion.

Posted by bill on 01/11/2011

Gee, Rob. My comment said nothing about HOW MON left. It was about the way many posters kept bashing him like he was the sole reason Villa missed CL. Perhaps you might look at someone's comments before you reply...I was one of the few that questioned why Houllier was hired and I was blasted for it. MON kept Villa at a high level. Now he certainly wasn't perfect because he didn't do enough to acquire true depth or play the kids who are very promising. If anything, that may have kept Villa from the CL. Not because he didn't know how to coach. Wonder how many of you recall Taylor's second tenure?He was clueless because he was away from the EPL too long.We have to hope GH at least knows what he is doing when he turns over this squad. We are stuck with him, so let's hope for incoming quality this month. Because unlike his predecessor, he didn't improve on what he inherited....BTW, we have to sell certain players. A Young isn't the same he was in 08/09. Villa should sell if the $ is right.

Posted by Arif on 01/14/2011

Who is Ian Holloway anyway? Why so sudden he's speaking like Blackpool is better than Aston Villa in football history? Does he know how to read statistic? Or did he failed history class? What a joke!

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Kevin Hughes Kevin Hughes spent the best part of ten years working and writing for the football magazine Match; once (sort of) inspiring David Beckham to copy his shaved-hair look, getting lost in Paris after the 1998 France v Croatia World Cup semi-final and other such nonsense. As Deputy Editor, he launched and established Sport, the London-based free weekly magazine, before moving on to become a consumer magazine publisher, a position he holds today. Introduced to Villa by his father and grandfather, he attended his first ever match at Villa Park as a seven-year-old in 1982… and has suffered almost constant disappointment since. You can follow him on twitter @KevHughesie

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