92 clubs favourite players – Aston Villa – Gabriel Agbonlahor

The second of the 92 clubs I am going to choose my favourite player from is Aston Villa and they have been a solid team in the Premier League for a long time and have even qualified for Europe on several occasions.

The player I have chosen is someone that has been at the club through some tough times and also some good times and that man is Gabriel Agbonlahor. He has played for Villa under six different managers and has the achievement to have scored under every single one of them. This includes Kevin MacDonald, David O’Leary, Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish, Martin O’Neill and now Paul Lambert. It was under O’Neill that he really started to show his potential by scoring 49 goals in 175 games and helping them to good finishes in the league. This season so far the goals haven’t been flowing for him but in his first five Premier League games he has assisted four goals and shown that he has had to adapt his game over the years from a central striker to a winger and he is still a massive threat to every team.
Agbonlahor]
It did take him a few years to adapt to the new role after an impressive start to his career as a striker. In his first four full seasons at the club he scored double figures in all of these in the Premier League and now has 63 goals in the league all together and will be hoping that he can get into the elite group of players that has scored 100 goals in the Premier League in the coming years. Last year he returned to goal scoring form by getting 12 goals in all competitions and by linking up with Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann he will get more opportunities to score and assist goals.

Personally I think Agbonlahor should have been given more chances in the England set up, he does have three caps and performed quite well in all of the games particularly in a win against Germany where he had a goal disallowed and caused real problems with his pace. Recently England have been struggling to find consistent wingers and front men which is why I cannot believe he hasn’t even been called up recently. His form is certainly better than Ashley Young and adds a lot more going forward than James Milner. Plus he has a lot more experience than Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling and is still only 26 so he has a lot to offer.

He came through the Villa youth team so obviously the fans are going to like him a lot but something else that makes them love him is the fact that he has a brilliant record against one of their nearest rivals Birmingham City. Scoring four times in seven games in the Midlands Derby is a very good record and his performances have helped his side beat their rivals in five of the seven games you know the fans will have a lot of respect for your talents.

Who is your favourite player at Aston Villa? Does Agbonlahor deserve another chance on the international stage? Can Paul Lambert get the best out of Agbonlahor?

Who will be Nottingham Forest’s next manager?

Alex McLeish has left his job at Nottingham Forest after just 40 days in charge of the club.

There had been a lot of speculation that he was going to leave the club soon after the way the club conducted themselves in the January transfer window. With the biggest problem being the club pulling out of a deal for Peterborough United midfielder George Boyd because he failed an eye test. A lot of players and former players were saying that they have never even done an eye test during a medical. What makes it even more ridiculous is the fact that Boyd recently scored a goal from the halfway line. But back onto McLeish and his time at Forest will not really be remembered fondly after a lot of fans didn’t even want him in the first place and his record of just one win from seven games is not a great record at all, especially for a club that was challenging for a place in the playoffs under Sean O’Driscoll. McLeish’s last game was a defeat to his former club Birmingham City and after the game he refused to commit his future to the club and now a few days later he has left by mutual consent.

So, who will take the job now? The current favourite is former manager Billy Davies. Straightaway I am not sure about this one at all because he had problems with the board the last time he was at the club and I do not know whether he would get on with the new board. But if they could convince him to come back he would certainly bring good football back to Forest and give them a good chance of promotion this season. In his first spell he won 53 of his 126 games and would love to finish the job he started. However, it does look like he is going to join Blackpool.
Billy Davies
Nigel Adkins is also an early favourite for the job and it is obvious why and at the moment he will get linked with every job going in the Championship. He may want time away from the game after being harshly sacked by Southampton even though it looked as though he could have kept them up. He proved he is a good manager and would bring attacking football to the City Ground. I think it will be a long shot but if the board can convince him to join the club then the fans would be very happy with their new manager.
Nigel Adkins
Finally, a name that has been linked with the role is the current Kuwait head coach Goran Tufegdzic. This would be a ridiculous appointment but it certainly would not surprise me at all. He has been in charge of Kuwait since 2009 after being their assistant and he does have a decent record in charge but it is nowhere near the standard required for the Championship. Some fans will want to give him a chance but I can see the large majority wanting the board out, if they don’t already.
Goran
Other linked with the job are Roy Keane, Paolo Di Canio and Mark Hughes

Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Nottingham Forest are searching for a new manager after sacking Sean O’Driscoll who had just led his team to a 4-2 victory over Leeds UnitedForest

O’Driscoll, joined the club in strange circumstances after earlier in the summer being appointed Crawley Town manager, however he never managed the team in a competitive fixture and left for Forest. He was given just 26 games in charge and only lost seven of those games, so his record was not that bad and there was a very realistic chance of the club getting promoted this season with the former Doncaster Rovers manager in charge. The team are currently 8th in the table and only one point outside the playoffs and with a crucial game against promotion rivals Crystal Palace next it is a very strange time to sack their manager. If they win the game then they will only be four points behind their opponents so it is actually unbelievable that the manager has gone, but the players need to move on and try and get promotion under the new manager, and there certainly will be some high profile names linked with the job and the former champions of Europe will be looking to appoint a well known name.

The clear favourite for the job is Alex McLeish and it will be interesting to see what the fans think of this decision because he has had an indifferent time as a manager in England. Under his guidance, Birmingham City were relegated twice but he also led them to a ninth place finish in the Premier League and a Carling Cup, as well as a promotion from the Championship. But, his time at Aston Villa was a disaster and he was hated by most of their fans for his negative style of football. However, I do not think he was ever given the chance to succeed at Villa Park.

Al McLeish

The next manager linked with the job is the recently sacked Chelsea manager Robert Di Matteo. If they could convince him to join the club then it would be fantastic for them as he lifted the Champions League trophy last season. For him, personally it may not be exactly what he is looking for, but he will surely be given money to do what he wants, rather than getting players bought for him which seemed to happen at his former club. I honestly can’t see this happening but there have been stranger things happen in football.

Roberto di Matteo

Finally, Roy Keane has been linked with the job and he also has experience of winning promotion from the Championship with Sunderland, so he knows the league and what is needed to succeed. However, his time at Ipswich Town was not so successful and he did not achieve his own expectations and they struggled for long periods under his management. He played 123 times for Forest and scored 22 goals so he knows exactly what the fans expect and will want to be the one that gets them back into the Premier League.

PKT5111-369467FOOTBALLER - ROY KEANE1992Roy Keane - Nottingham Forest FC.

 

Who will be Scotland’s next manager?

Scotland are looking for a new manager after Craig Levein was sacked after just 24 games in charge.

To some fans though 24 was too many and I am sure a lot would have been happier if he had been replaced sooner. He actually won 10 of his games in charge so he doesn’t actually have such a bad record, however, everyone knows that winning percentages in international football don’t really matter because there are a lot of teams around the world that simply are just not good enough and teams like Scotland, who have a full team of professionals, should be able to brush them aside. It is very unlikely they will qualify from their group now, with only two points from their four games so the SFA have obviously acted now so the new man has time to build a squad ready for the next qualifying campaign. They were beaten by both Belgium and Wales in the last two games and even though these results won’t have helped, personally I believe it was the 1-1 draw against Macedonia that really signalled the end for Levein. I don’t know why he was given the extra two games but he was and now their campaign is over, so who should take charge.

The favourite for the job is currently Gordon Strachan, and this would be an interesting choice as he has not had a job since leaving Middlesbrough in 2010. He was very hit and miss at the North East club and a lot of their fans weren’t happy with the type of football he wanted the team to play. But, throughout the rest of his career, he has been largely successful, especially at Celtic, where he won 122 of his 182 games. As a player he won a lot of trophies and played 50 times for Scotland so he would hopefully bring a winning mentality back to the squad.

Alex McLeish may be tempted to come back and finish off a job that he did superbly in the first time round? If they could get him back then I certainly think they should give him the job because he has a fantastic record internationally, winning seven of his 10 games in charge. It may not have gone too well for him at Aston Villa but maybe he wasn’t given a fair chance by the fans and at least with Scotland he will get the backing from the crowd.

Finally, recently sacked Owen Coyle is a name that has been mentioned and this would be remarkable. Coyle, spent most of his playing career in Scotland and managed Falkirk and St Johnstone, however, he decided to play internationally for Republic of Ireland, so would this go down well with the Scotland fans? But, he does have a good record for the most part and although his time at Bolton Wanderers ended miserably he did still take them to an FA Cup semi final. In all honesty I can’t see Coyle getting the job but if given the chance he could do a good job.

Other names linked with the job are Joe Jordan, Walter Smith, Ally McCoist and Billy Davies. So who would you like to see in charge?

Who will Peter Lovenkrands sign for?

Peter Lovenkrands is looking for a new club after being released by Newcastle United and will be hoping to stay in the Premier League.

Lovenkrands scored 29 goals in 84 games for Newcastle

The Geordies loved Lovenkrands and he obviously enjoyed playing in front of them and leaves the club with a heavy heart as he has given them a lot over the years he has been there and nobody can ever question his loyalty. The Danish striker was very important to the team especially in the Championship where he scored 16 goals in all competitions and was a very effective partner for Andy Carroll. One of his goals that will probably be remembered most was the one against West Brom in a 2-2 draw as he had just returned from Denmark after hearing the about the death of his father. The celebration will live long in my memory and I’m sure most people in the stadium will not forget it as you could see how much it meant to him to score for his father. His chances in the Premier League were limited but he will always be considered a fans favourite in my opinion.

So where will he go next? Does he still have a future in the Premier League? Personally, I don’t think he is still good enough for the Premier League however with Chris Hughton just getting the job at Norwich City he may just get another chance. Hughton got the best out of him at Newcastle and they obviously had a very good relationship during their time on Tyneside. Lovenkrands would be a different option for them to Grant Holt and Steve Morison and has more experience than Simeon Jackson in the Premier League. Plus, Grant Holt doesn’t seem happy at the minute so he could be on his way this summer. I think he would be a decent addition to the squad but he doesn’t quite fit into their usual transfer targets however Paul Lambert is no longer the manager so they may go in a different direction.

Another option for him could be Southampton as they do not have much Premier League experience in their strike force. He could prove to be a good partner for Rickie Lambert who is a big striker and likes to hold up the ball for people to run off him. One thing Lovenkrands still has, is his movement and he will get himself into good positions and with Southampton having some very good playmakers in their squad like Adam Lallana, he could be just what they need. They do have Billy Sharp but I am unsure whether he will be able to score enough goals in the Premier League.

Finally, Aston Villa may also be interested in his services as they struggled to score goals last season and they didn’t have enough options after Darren Bent got injured with Gabriel Agbonlahor playing a lot out wide under Alex McLeish. The only thing that may make this move not work out is that new manager Paul Lambert would rather go for a younger player and they will be the favourites to sign Holt if he does get the chance to leave Norwich. However, he is a free transfer and this should work in his advantage, I really hope Lovenkrands gets a new club and I’m sure if he gets to play against Newcastle the crowd will give him a fantastic reception as they appreciate all that he has done for the club.

Who will be the next Aston Villa manager?

Aston Villa have had a disappointing season to say the least and Alex McLeish has took the blame for it.

McLeish only won 21.43% of his games in charge

McLeish and Villa were never going to work out anyway in my opinion, the fans didn’t want him and he plays negative football which is why the club failed to win more games than they did and were sucked into a relegation battle. This time Randy Lerner has to make a good choice or Villa’s place in the Premier League is seriously under threat, since Martin O’Neill left the club it has been in decline. In McLeish’s defence he had to deal with a lot of injuries to key players, in particular Darren Bent but still more was expected of the side and at least a challenge for the top 10 would have been nice for the fans.

So who is going to be the next manager? The current favourite is Paul Lambert of Norwich City as he has had a fantastic season with them and has proved that you don’t need big names to be successful in the Premier League. He has got a lot of players that are quite young and have the potential to grow which is exactly what Villa need right now, with a lot of impressive youngsters coming through like Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan. Lambert has a very impressive record winning 42.46% of his 325 games as a manager and will add vibrancy and reinvigorate the club which is exactly what chief executive Paul Faulkner has said they are looking for. Norwich won’t let him go easily and maybe he will see it as a step sideways and decide against the move.

Mick McCarthy, the former Wolves manager is also linked with the job and this surprised me slightly as he was sacked as manager of Wolves and has never done anything better in the Premier League than battle relegation. I would expect more ambition from a club like Villa but maybe they are thinking that McCarthy did a good job on the whole with Wolves and with better players at his disposal he will be able to lead the team into the top half. He is unemployed and knows that the Premier League so he could be a good choice however I can see the fans reacting just as negatively to this as they did with McLeish.

Finally, yet again Roberto Martinez is linked with the role and he wanted to stay at Wigan Athletic last summer but maybe things have changed and he will be more interested now. If they can drag him away from Wigan then they will have a fantastic manager who likes his teams to play a passing game and is also someone that doesn’t mind trying new things out. His formation of 3-4-3 has worked magnificently towards the end of the season and even the best teams in the league have been unable to deal with it. But Martinez will be thinking if I have one bad season they might sack me. So I think he will stay at Wigan but if Villa give him the chance, they need to make sure they stick by him.

If I was the chairman, I would do everything I could to get Martinez in charge of my team as he has kept Wigan up for a number of years now and he has stuck to his own game plan for the most of it. The players will enjoy the freedom and creativity he will give them and they will prosper under him and maybe challenge for Europe once again.

Aston Villa sign Australian international Brett Holman from AZ Alkmaar

Aston Villa have made their first signing for next season with Australian Brett Holman joining from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

The winger was out of contract in the summer so was allowed to speak to other clubs and the player stated himself that he knew all about Villa’s history and this is why he wanted to join the club. It is a signal of intent from Alex McLeish that he believes that the club will stay in the Premier League or he would not want to sign new players for the new season if he did not know which division they were playing in. Although he is not the biggest name in world football and he may not excite the Villa fans as much as a few other names that are usually thrown around in the summer, Holman is a very consistent player and always chips in with goals and assists.

This season could prove to be his best yet in Holland with him already scoring six goals and contributing another nine assists. He has played in Holland for quite a long time now and was originally brought over by Feyenoord but did not play a game for the club and was loaned out to Excelsior where he finally started to make an impact, although this was in the second tier, he was starting to make a name for himself. He then continued to progress when he joined NEC Nijmegen, scoring 15 goals in the two seasons he was at the club which is pretty good for a winger.

He is currently at AZ Alkmaar and won the league with them in 2009. Every season he has been at the club he has got better and better and they were trying to persuade him to stay for longer but the lure of English football was too strong for him. He also has 53 caps for Australia scoring eight goals.

Holman playing for Australia against Japan

Now the question is will he succeed in England? A lot of the players we see coming from Holland are strikers and they have had a mixed time of playing in English football. Starting with Ruud Van Nistelrooy who was fantastic and in my opinion if he had stayed at Manchester United for the rest of his career would have come close to becoming the all time top scorer in the Premier League. However, there have been some expensive flops, the one that springs to mind the most is Afonso Alves who scored 47 goals in just 39 games for Dutch team Heerenveen. He then joined Middlesbrough and was very poor only scoring 10 league goals in his two years at the club. In his defence when he first signed he did look very promising as he scored six goals in his first 11 league games but then faded away and was very poor afterwards.

Two others that have not exactly failed in England but haven’t exactly hit the heights are Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez. Both were fantastic goal scorers but know Kuyt is seen more as a wide player and gets his fair share from that position but not enough for a striker. Suarez has looked pretty good but yet again has not added the goals to his performances.

So it will be interesting to see how Holman adapts to the Premier League but he may not be the flamboyant player the fans wanted to see and definitely feels like an Alex McLeish signing. Someone that has a high work rate and will try and cover every blade of grass and maybe what Villa need is someone that is going to unlock a defence when the game is tight which has cost them a few times this season.

Will Aston Villa get relegated from the Premier League?

Aston Villa may be getting dragged into a relegation battle this season with some of their star players underperforming and now the news that Darren Bent will be out for three months has made the possibility of relegation a lot more likely.

They are not a one man team but who will score the amount of goals Bent does, Gabriel Agbonlahor for all his pace and directness does not quite have the ability to reach the same levels as Bent. However, I have been impressed with him this season but five goals isn’t exactly prolific. Saying that though he has hit double figures in three seasons so far in his career with his best being 13 goals, he will need to get somewhere near this target this season if Villa are going to stay up.

Emile Heskey has never been prolific in his career and does not seem to be favoured by Alex McLeish anyway so he may be overlooked. Whenever I have seen him play this season he has been on the left wing which he has done a few times over the years but you cannot get the best out of him from that position. Everyone always says that Heskey makes his strike partner look better and score more goals and maybe he will be able to help Agbonlahor grab the goals as well as him chipping in with a few himself.

With Robbie Keane’s loan spell ending, this injury could not have came at a worse time and they will no option but bring Nathan Delfouneso back to the club and push him straight into the first team. He is only a young player but he has certainly showed some promise when he has came off the bench in the last few years and maybe now is his time to step up and show everyone that he is a Premier League quality striker. If he can also grab a few goals between now and the end of the season he could be a hero to the Villa fans as they are in need of one at the moment.

The midfield will have to step it up also as they can get goals but have struggled to so far this season. Charles N’Zogbia can score goals from out wide and has done so on many occasions for former clubs Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United. He only has one goal so far for the club and this is quite remarkable as he hit 10 goals in all competitions last season in arguably a weaker side. Marc Albrighton on the other side should be adding more goals to his game as he is a very good player and likes to get himself into attacking positions but in his defence he hasn’t always been first choice. I believe though that this injury could be a blessing in disguise for Stephen Ireland as he really needs to get his career back on track, he has struggled for years and maybe now with the pressure on, he may get back to the form he showed at Manchester City when he was one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League and.

I do not believe Villa will go down but the Premier League does throw up a few surprises and with the fans still not taking to McLeish very well, it all adds up to a very difficult end to the season. Maybe it is down to the manager that they are struggling because at times he can be far too negative and doesn’t allow his players to express themselves and this could be part of the reason why there flair players from last year, like Ashley Young and Stewart Downing left. It could also be why players like N’Zogbia have underperformed.