Tag: Aston Villa

The Mark Hughes’ Career Path Turns Into A Cul-de-Sac

The end of the domestic football season can be a tough time for anybody that works in the game. As contracts expire, many players are left with their livelihoods hanging by a thread and, for the adulation afforded to Paul Scholes upon his recent retirement, there will be dozens upon dozens that slide from view, seldom thought of by anyone apart from their nearest and dearest. For managers, meanwhile, the russian roulette nature of their employment is placed sharply into focus by the glinting of the guillotine blade that hangs in the air. What were expectations of their clubs owners? Did they meet them? It often feels as if there is no other profession in which the livelihoods of many are dependent on the whims and indulgences of others. In an outstanding recent review of Simon Kuper’s new book, “The Football Men”, the website Twisted Blood hit upon a fundamental truth at the heart of professional sport – the schism between the professional sportsman and the supporter. The one thing that can almost be guaranteed in modern sport is that loyalty is a one-way street, and a culture of loyalty has been built into a sophisticated framework that envelops the whole of modern football. Loyalty, we are told, is everything if you are a supporter. Yet those that benefit fiscally from the game – the players, the managers, in...

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Match Of The Week: Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United

A feeling of nervousness hangs heavy in the air at Villa Park this afternoon. The four teams below Aston Villa have already lost this weekend, but home supporters may already point to their primary concern being that there are as few as four teams below them in the Premier League at this point of the season in the first place. Aston Villa have slid almost unnoticed into the fiercest relegation dog-fight in years and, while their draw at Goodison Park last weekend was an improvement of sorts, this is a team drained of confidence. At this point in the season, though, confidence is an asset the value of which cannot be understated. That Newcastle United should be the visitors here this afternoon is somewhat ironic, of course. It was at Villa Park two years ago that they were relegated from the Premier League, to near-universal mockery. That stinging feeling has been somewhat assuaged by their immediate return and a comparatively successful season this year but, while to have already beaten Aston Villa by six goals earlier this season may have exorcised a ghost or two, perhaps full closure may require a little more of the same this afternoon. With their Premier League survival not quite secured yet, supporters of Villa’s relegation rivals will presumably be hoping that the need for another win or two as security and a few...

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Crisis Or No Crisis? An Uncertain Time For Aston Villa

One of the defining characteristics of this season in the Premie League has been the desperate battle to avoid relegation. With seven matches of the season left to play, there are still ten clubs that could still be relegated and it seems likely that the scramble will last until the very end of the season. Considering that half of the Premier League is still involved in this particular dog-fight, it is unsurprising that there are some big names amongst them, and arguably the name that causes one’s eyebrows to rise the highest is a club that we might have been expecting to spend this season pushing for a place in Europe for next season: Aston Villa. There is no doubting that Aston Villa are a big club. One of the twelve founding members of the Football League, their very name is one of the surviving links that we have with English football’s founding years. It is a name and a club that drips with history. Yet their tumble down the table this season has been almost sedate. Unlike the noisy chaos that surrounded another club of similar proportions, Newcastle United, two years ago, Aston Villa have slid into trouble as quietly as a mouse but, with just seven matches of the season left to play, they are just two points and two positions above the relegation places. Supporters of...

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Why Blackpool Had To Be Fined For Fielding Their Reserves

In what may be seen as slightly surprising news, the FA Premier League fined Blackpool £25,000 for fielding an under-strength side. The slight surprise was that, in fining the Seasiders, the punishment was harsher than the suspended fine handed down to Wolverhampton Wanderers in similar circumstances last season. Considering the similarities in the two situations, a punishment of some sort was always expected, and while Blackpool, and manager Ian Holloway are yet to pass official comment on the situation, although there are claims that Holloway has not tendered his resignation, as he claimed he would do. Would Blackpool be right to be aggrieved at the decision? First of all, let’s be clear – unlike certain other Premier League clubs – Blackpool are not extravagant spenders, nor are they one of the richer clubs in the league. The fine is the equivalent of three weeks wages for most (if not all) of the Seasiders’ higher paid players, so it’s not the toothless punishment that certain other clubs. Notwithstanding the fine, prize money in the Premier League is based on the position the club finishes in the table, and had a full-strength Blackpool beaten Aston Villa that night, they would currently be sitting in eighth – worth approximately £3m more than the 12th position that they currently occupy. The Premier League have explained their decision by taking into account the team...

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Randy Lerner’s Houllier-Shaped Dilemma

Martin O’Neill’s resignation from the managerial position at Aston Villa just days before a ball was kicked in August came as something of a shock to many of the club’s supporters. Four months on, Villa supporters could be forgiven for pondering whether O’Neill saw this coming. Their form now feels more like a collapse than a slump and the question of whether this team at this time has the stomach for a relegation battle is now starting to come to the forefront of the minds of many supporters. Villa, however, remain stuck between a rock and a hard place. Replacing Gerard Houllier would, no matter how unpopular he is at present, be a gamble, and in the current economic climate Aston Villa can hardly afford to lose their Premier League status in this of all seasons. Their recent form had been shocking – just one win in their last eight matches – but their abject performance at The City of Manchester Stadium this afternoon marked a new low in their season so far. There is no doubt that Gerard Houllier is exceptionally unpopular with the supporters of the club, and whether the appointment of Houllier, who was always likely to be a short-term fix rather than somebody coming into the club to build a new dynasty at the club, feels irrelevant at present. Talk of new dynasties is for...

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