I feel I have an apology to make to our captain, Ron Vlaar.
Towards the start of the season I wrote an article questioning Vlaar’s ability and asked whether he was in fact a liability. To say I have been proven wrong would be an understatement.
In general, this season Ron Vlaar has been nothing short of superb. Imagine what might happen if he had a semi-competent defence around him!
Following a slow start against Arsenal, Vlaar has gone on to be a real rock and leader in the back four. It is testament to how good he has been that his absence was so noticeable when he was injured over the past few weeks.
Amid fears that Lambert was rushing the captain back from a calf injury in a bid to quell growing unrest, Vlaar returned to the side to ring in 2014 at the Stadium of Light on New Year’s Day. I believe it’s no coincidence that on that day the players managed to keep their first clean sheet in several weeks, although Vlaar did go off injured after seventy minutes.
‘Captain Concrete’ made his latest return at Villa Park against Arsenal on Monday evening and despite the defeat he turned in another excellent performance, making several superbly timed last ditch tackles.
On the whole, this season we’ve been a lot better defensively (although I would have to say it would have been difficult to be any worse) and I think this is largely down to Vlaar’s vast improvement, as we saw the ghosts of last season’s defensive frailties return when he was injured, and the influence he has on his defensive team-mates.
I don’t have any statistics to back up what I’m saying here, partially because I’ve become sick to death of stats this season but also because I don’t think I need any. Vlaar has been immense.
So, Ron, I’m sorry I doubted you and I’m extremely pleased to have been proven wrong. Please forgive me and keep up the good work.
In my book, Vlaar is on course for player of the season: Delph was a clear leader but his form has dropped off recently.
Oo Ah, Ron Vlaar!