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In Toon Today: The Wizard of As

5 years ago

It’s pantomime season again and no team has been more of a pantomime this season that Aston Villa.

A new manager doing badly, players not trying, money wasted in the transfer market, owner despised, booooo!

Well it could be Newcastle United except that Aston Villa are in a pantomime league of their own, literally given their points total, so today we welcome the pantomime Villains to SJP.

(Photo above – ‘Villa’s midfield prepare for today’s game’.)

Who Manages Them?                  

Remi Garde, he’d have to be The Wizard, attempting to perform miracles with his imported trickery but hiding a secret shame, he can’t do it, it’s all pretend.

Not that most of the turmoil at Aston Villa is his fault, the Villa looked relegated when we beat them at SJP last season and only a Tim Sherwood inspired escape act kept the Lions up. The 2014/15 season ended badly though, a 6-1 thumping at Southampton was followed by a home loss to Burnley and an FA Cup Final trouncing so it was no surprise when this season started equally awfully and Sherwood was sacked 11 games and 4 points in.

Garde has fared no better, two draws and three goals in five matches with Villa now eight points from safety, his three and a half year deal looks more like a prison sentence than a contract now and an equally strange move by Villa.

A manager with no Premier League experience, in fact his only experience was making an already established Lyon team slightly worse, albeit in more difficult circumstances, and when he left Lyon to take a sabbatical he was linked with several jobs both at home and abroad, including the Newcastle one.

‘Remi Garde: The Wizard. So good they spelt his name wrong.’

His decision to go to Villa looks like panic on both sides, especially on a long contract. No one will blame Garde if Villa go down but he’ll only have one season to try and get back into the PL before getting the old ‘Jose’, a one and a half year contract looked like a better bet, three and a half years just looks like two years compensation after the sack to me.

Not everyone is so pessimistic though, this month one Aston Villa fan said that he’d get Remi Garde tattooed on his arse if the Frenchman kept Villa up this season. I’m sure the opportunity to have his face tattooed onto a Brummie’s arse is all the inspiration Garde needs to achieve it. Oh no it isn’t!

Who Have They Signed?             

The Villains’ summer transfer policy was a pantomime in itself, the £40million raised from the sales of Benteke and Delph randomly squandered, as if they had found one of Graham Carr’s scouting lists in a French airport bin.

Unbelievably, Villa spent approaching £50million in the summer and you’d have to ask yourself on what? It looks like a case of Jack and The Beanstalk, they took two players to market and came back with some magic beans. This week Matthew we will mostly be wasting our money.

Of the players Villa bought, only £7.7million left back Jordan Amavi is unavailable due to injury, though free transfer Micah Richards may also miss out partnering other free transfer Jolean Lescott in central defence. The others should be involved; £8.4million Jordan Ayew and £6million Rudy Gestede should play up front, the midfield may include £7million Jordan Veretout, £6.3million Idrissa Gana and we may see £2.5million Scott Sinclair and £7million ex-Barca young ‘un Adama Traore who Garde obviously rates but said:

“He is very gifted, I know that. He has some brilliant skill and is tremendous on dribbling but it’s a small part of the game. How long do you hold the ball, one minute 30, two minutes? Then what are you doing for 88 minutes?”

We’ve had a few players in that category over the last 20 years but it hasn’t taken Garde long to see that youth and inexperience are two of the problems of the money Villa have spent. With the exception of the two centre half free transfers, none of the other players have Premier League history; many of them are young and in England for the first time and all of them need time to gel into a team.

It’s like listening to a giant Newcastle United moan.

Against Arsenal last time out, apart from the defence, only Coronation Street’s Scott Sinclair and midfield lump Sanchez had PL experience before this season and between them they have only played 60 odd games for Villa. No wonder they lost.

They do seem to admit to some strange reasons for buying players as well, Sanchez is nicknamed “the rock” due to his strength on the pitch supposedly, not because he doesn’t move around very much and old Villa manager Sherwood likened midfielder Idrissa Gana, 25, to a robot, saying “when you cut him wires come out of him.” I mean, is that good? Oh no it isn’t.

Who Have We Seen Before?    

Charles N’Zogbia as the Tin Man, he’s got no heart. Insomnia played 158 games for us and scored a staggering 9 goals, a stat which tells us that when we sold him to Wigan for £6 million we let a blatantly average player go.

He under-achieved at the TOON in every department except moaning and when he left claiming that he wanted to play “at a higher level” we all knew he’d never find that “higher level” unless it resided up his own arse, where he spends most of his time.

‘Charles N’Zogbia: The Tin Man. He’s got no heart.’

Garde summed up N’Zogbia’s career in a nutshell this week when he said:

“Charles could have given more to the team in the first two or three weeks after I came.”

A Special Mention For:                

Jack Grealish, the scarecrow, he’s got no brain.

Jack Grealish is a key man for Villa, a real talisman and quality young player on his day which makes his high-jinks this season even more amusing, they couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Claret and Blue Army.

After a ticking off in April for inhaling Nitrous Oxide on camera, the summer saw him sparked out in Tenerife while on holiday; little did we know that catching a quick nap would be ideal training for a role in Villa’s midfield this season.

‘Jack Grealish: The scarecrow. He’s got no brain.’

He was then dropped last month for visiting a Manchester nightclub the same day that Villa had been thumped 4-0 at Goodison Park and it is only in the last week that Grealish has returned to the first team fold.

He’ll probably play today and we’ll need to keep an eye on him, he’s a good player with a lot of talent and Villa will be a better team with him playing. Not a more intelligent one though.

How Will They Do This Season?               

They’ll get relegated unless they perform to a far higher standard than they have so far. That might involve moving Micah Richards from centre half to right back where he is more reliable, trying Alan Hutton at left back and including a bit more PL experience in their line-ups, Ciaran Clark always gives his all at centre half, maybe Grealish in a midfield 3, Agbonlahor and Sinclair up front supporting Ayew or Gestede.

It doesn’t look like this will happen though, this week saw press coverage that Agbonlahor was going to sold in January to raise funds for a spending spree. What a spending spree that will be, selling Agbonlahor might get them half an Obertan or an Ameobi. If Villa really think they can buy their way out of trouble then they’ll need to sell Grealish in January and spend the lot on a new spine for the team.

Is that more young French players? Oh no it isn’t.

Are We Going To Win?

If we play like we did in the second half against Liverpool and Spurs then we will. Villa as a team resemble the lion in The Wizard of Oz, they have lost their collective courage. Steve McClaren has attempted to pour water on the fire of complacency by telling us this is a hard game but he also looked forward for once:

“Three in a row is quite unique but something we will be going for.”

Well not unique Steve, we can still remember when we were good, it wasn’t that long ago we used to win all the time, 10 out of 10 once you know.

We’ll settle for three in a row now though against an Aston Villa pantomime for who defeat today will be another nail in the relegation coffin.

Isn’t it a shame to see such a once great club languishing at the bottom of the league? Oh no it isn’t.

Howay The Lads.


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