Clark, Bannan and Albrighton: What went wrong?


Three or four years ago, when you looked at those players’ names the first thing that would have sprung to mind was “the future of Aston Villa.” Now, looking ahead, Barry Bannan is more than likely on his way out, Clark doesn’t seem to be able to cut it and Albrighton is getting injured every game he plays in.

Ciaran Clark

I for one am a big fan of Clark and it frustrates me when he doesn’t play well. Having seen him at the heart of another howler last night in a friendly against Luton, it made me think that he just does not help himself.

A week ago when he signed a new three year deal many Villa fans said that this was his chance to make himself worthy of his new deal and he goes and does that.

It all started off so well for Clark: he captained the academy side to a Premier League title in the 07-08 season and made his breakthrough to the first team against Fulham in a 2-0 win. This was the start of something special for Clark as he was included in Garth Crooks’ team of the week after only his first senior appearance.

From then on steady progression was made and Clark decided to change his nationality to Irish and play for the Republic of Ireland national side, as realistically he was not England standard and this was a wise choice from the youngster. He broke into the national side at the age of 21 in a friendly against Norway and the future was looking bright for the youngster.

A few years on and sometimes you would think he had never played at the back, he has lost all his composure on the ball and seems to make far too many errors when he could just play it simple. I really feel for Clark and hope he can turn his form around next season, although it seems he will have less of a chance with Okore coming in.

Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan is one of the most technically gifted players you will see in central midfield but he just does not know what to do with the ball and lacks composure when it matters. It is also worth noting that his right foot may as well be non-existent.

Although Bannan did not originate from our youth system, the young Scot was signed on trial from Celtic at the age of fourteen. He made an immediate impression at Villa, winning the Ergenzingen Tournament in Germany and picking up player of the tournament award.

In the 07-08 season, Bannan won the Academy Premier League along with Clark and the other Villa youngsters. During this season he scored an astonishing 13 goals from midfield, which is what warranted a two year professional contract at Villa.

After a few loan spells at Championship sides Derby and Blackpool in order to aid his development, Bannan was ready to make the breakthrough to the Villa first team. He was given a string of opportunities by manager Gerard Houllier in the 10-11 season.

Since then the Scot has just not been good enough. I read a statistic midway through last season that Bannan had misplaced the most passes as a Villa player at the beginning of December with a total of 93 going astray.

This is why so many fans get frustrated by what he does. He has the ability to pick out a pass but panics under the pressure; composure is not something you are born with and Bannan is certainly not composed.

I say Bannan is on his way out of Villa as recently a video was filmed by fans who asked the midfielder if he was staying at Villa and he replied with “I don’t think so.” Personally, I think he needs to go and if that’s what Lambert wants, I am sticking with him.

Marc Albrighton

The 10-11 season was a season that many fans thought Marc Albrighton had a part to play in the future of Aston Villa, and he certainly looked the part. His full debut came in the first game of the season against West Ham when he assisted two of the three goals in a 3-0 win for Villa.

He scored five goals in the Premier League and assisted in another four. One of his memorable performances during this season was in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United: the young winger scored the second goal to put Villa 2-0 up and played a blinder of a game. Albrighton also set up both goals in a 2-1 win against the Baggies, which is always nice to see.

Following that season, Albrighton went on to score the Premier League’s 20,000th goal against Arsenal. Since then the winger has not had a lot of playing time due to injuries and other reasons. Albrighton only made a total of nine appearances last season without scoring or assisting any goals.

My view on Albrighton is that he still has the chance to prove himself. However, he is out through injury/illness again which worries me and shows how injury-prone he really is. We now seem to have four wingers who are better than Albrighton in Agbonlahor, Weimann, Bacuna and N’Zogbia but he could certainly provide cover next season as N’Zogbia won’t be fit for a while.


Have your say on what was meant to be for these Villa youngsters by commenting below.


  1. In the case of Albrighton and Bannan, nothing went wrong, they were just never good enough to succeed in the premier league. The jury is still out on Cieran Clark, but as he again showed in his cameo appearance at Kenilworth Road last night, if he has a successful long term Villa Park future ahead of him, it wont be as a central defender.
    As for Albrighton and Bannan though, the sooner they are shipped out the door, the better for all concerned. Those two are League One level at best.

  2. What comes to mind is albrightons goal against fulham under houllier, inch perfect pass cross the field, met by albrighton on the right, turned it in with his left.
    Bannan has the ability, just doesnt have the tenacity, or the abilighty to impose himself on the game, its not easy being the small guy, but he has passing ability. this guys problem could be too much money too soon, before he became fully developed as a player.
    Albrighton has the abilighty and the right attitude, i believe he will come good if he stays injury free.
    Clark is a center half that has made a few mistakes, but overall he is outstanding, its just that the learning curve for a center half is a long time. Its not fair to comare him to players like lowton and westwood, who got a lot of experience in the lower leagues before hitting the priemership. These guys gou thrown in at the deep end.
    the problem is the manageral changes that these guys were faced with when they were coming through, the was something toxic at villa for the last few years, where no players were really looking too good, it started with o’niell and lambert is putting it right, im sure these guys will have big futures.
    Remember the millions paid for the likes of celluar and downing, harewood, and more who wernt good enough for the championship. if nathen baker has a bad run, will you write an article on where did it go wrong for him?

  3. I think marc just needs to get himself fit, go out on loan and recapture his form. He’s a good lad and still I believe he can be a good player for us.
    I’d say exactly the same about Clark too, either loan him out or develop him into a defensive midfielder.
    Bannan however needs to be shown the door, he just hasn’t made the grade and I think the main reason is his ego.

    • Marc’s time is coming to an end IMO. He is in last chance saloon with his contract running out this season.

      Clark is increasingly becoming a disappointment – If Okore steps up Clark could be the one to take a back seat as I rate Baker, while I cant see PL dropping Vlaar.

      Bannan IMO just needs a fresh start and to get back to basics. He isn’t a bad player but he needs to get his head back into the game.

  4. I remember seeing Bannan in the Villa store signing autographs, and he said he would never get into the Villa team. He just lacks confidence and if he got it he would break in. However, with people like Delph, confident to get a yellow every match, Ashley Westwood and the likes of Sylla, N’Zogbia and El Ahmadi chilling in the pitch, someone without confidence really won’t fit in.
    I think Albrighton will stay and the other two will go.

  5. In fairness to Clark throughout his career he has mainly been defensive midfield and has only played centre back recently!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here