Rumours have been rife in the past two weeks around Villa Park that two of our most important players – Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph – could be leaving the club, not having signed new contracts. After new contracts for manager Paul Lambert, Gabby Agbonlahor and Jack Grealish, it was assumed that Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph would follow suit and also sign new contracts to keep them at the club for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, as widely reported, the Villa captain may be looking for one more ‘big’ move. The Dutchman’s agent has confirmed that Vlaar may move soon and that talk regarding his client signing a contract extension for Villa was wide of the mark. After having a storming World Cup, when Vlaar was considered one of the defenders of the tournament, you can see why Ron Vlaar and his agent might be licking their lips as the list of potential suitors isn’t short at all. I’m sure there are clubsthat have had an eye on the Holland international in the last couple of months and that have been monitoring his contract situation closely. At this point in time, Vlaar’s silence on the matter speaks volumes. I think it’s safe to say we need to plan for life without him sooner rather than later, which is a shame because he can be a classy player.
Fabian Delph, a player who Villa signed a few years ago for a hefty price tag, is another player who has become instrumental to Villa in the last couple of seasons. Serious injuries has plagued the Bradford-born Delph, as he suffered an anterior excruciate ligament injury. Through perseverance and backing from Aston Villa he has come on in leaps and bounds, earning a call up to Roy Hodgson’s England team a few times this season. Just like Vlaar, Delph’s contract also expires in the summer and it’s extremely frustrating hearing news that he may also leave soon. If we don’t sell him in January, he could leave Villa for nothing in the summer.
These rumours have placed a dark cloud over the Villa Park skies and fans are not happy. Most of the blame, in the eyes of the fans, lies with Randy Lerner and his staff for allowing Villa to be in this position in the first place. But we must remember that it takes two to tango. If the players want to stay, the club, the player and their agents will find a way to compromise and contracts should be sorted out, just like the contracts of Lambert, Agbonlahor and Grealish were.
With Ron Vlaar taking his yearly holiday around this time of year with yet another injury in the winter months and Delph out with a shoulder injury until January at the earliest, the Villans will be without their best players for the forthcoming games. Christian Benteke, who is still suspended, will also miss the next couple of games. That is a massive loss for the Villans, as their three best players will not be able to play in such an important run of fixtures when we need to get points.
Questions will now asked of this squad and the players durability and resilience will be tested. One thing is for sure: this squad is definitely better than last year’s squad and the added experience from the likes of Senderos, Richardson and Cole could be invaluable. They’re not world beaters but at this point in time they could be the difference between Aston Villa getting relegated or staying up.
There are certain players in this team who need to step up a gear, not only for the the club’s sake but for their own reputations as well. I’m looking at the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann, Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker and Charles N’Zogbia. To their credit, Weimann and Baker have really been putting in shifts in the last couple of weeks, with Baker looking more confortable in defence and looking to block anything that comes near Guzan’s goal. Weimann is chipping in with a few goals and right now he’s our biggest goal threat.
Agbolahor and N’Zogbia have really gotten on my nerves recently. N’Zogbia seems to be a headless chicken at times. I know he’s one of the main outlets and he has created a goal or two this season but he needs to reach another level higher. He needs to take the game by the scruff of the neck and get at his marker. He needs to put his marker under pressure and maybe get him booked, putting him off his game – and if he can’t do that then Lambert needs to give someone else a try.
I don’t think I can ask much more of Guzan but sometimes he is phenomenal, which is a word I don’t use lightly. He has had a few little slip ups this season but, with what he has to go through with this team, we can forgive him for those.
Can this team step up on the battlefield? Can underperforming players make names for themselves and restore some of the pride that has been lost in the last seven weeks or will they continue to disappoint and make the atmosphere around Villa even darker than it already is? Time will tell.