Is Ron still the one?

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Ron Vlaar is set to return from injury (once again) this weekend at Old Trafford for our crunch tie with Manchester United. The timing couldn’t be better, with Jores Okore looking doubtful and Nathan Baker and Philippe Senderos’ continued absence. Even if Baker or Senderos were to begin training, match sharpness would be a massive issue. Vlaar last played for the first team on February 21st, Baker’s last appearance was on January 17th and Senderos has not featured since November 8th. Our defensive injuries just haven’t relented all campaign.

Ciaran Clark has been immense and Jores Okore has in the main been more than reliable. His pace and power really help him but, on his day, Ron Vlaar is our best centre half. Our number four showed what he is all about during the World Cup and nobody can take that away from him. Unfortunately, the last time we saw Vlaar he made a telling error that cost us a point in Tim Sherwood’s maiden game at Villa Park. Vlaar’s injury time rush of blood cost us. It was fatal at that point of the game but it was also very uncharacteristic. As unreliable as Ron is fitness-wise, his defending is usually fairly reliable.

The real issues with Vlaar for me don’t lie with the Dutchman playing. Instead, his long term future and the captaincy are the matters of contention. If he’s fit, he plays, in my opinion. I want him to sign a contract but if he isn’t going to I trust that he will still put his body on the line for the cause as he has done in the past. Vlaar seems to have got a few Villa fans’ backs up; the hyperbole that surrounded his mistake against Stoke was ridiculous. I don’t think he will stay beyond the summer but if you had asked me whether I felt Delph was going to sign a new deal around Christmas I wouldn’t have been positive.

Aston Villa Football Club’s first team is not currently good enough for the manager to disregard a Dutch international because he hasn’t committed his long term future to the club. In 1999, Aston Villa’s first team wasn’t good enough for the manager not to play Mark Bosnich when he returned from injury late on in the season. He wasn’t signing the deal on the table but he should have been in the team quite simply because he was better than what we had. He didn’t play and I believe we lost points playing the lesser Michael Oakes over him.

Tim Sherwood is man enough not re-instate Vlaar as captain. That job belongs to Fabian Delph now, who is the poster boy of Sherwood’s Villa. Indeed, Delph’s loyalty and words about the club have been a welcome change. As much as I want to see Vlaar back in action, the captain should be someone who is committed long term. Fabian Delph has shown he is that man. The other issue is that the captain should be the first name on the team sheet, a regular, and Vlaar misses too many matches.

Vlaar has been a good club captain, as he has been respectful and honest. In my opinion, he has also taken the role very seriously. The fact of the matter is that over the last few seasons he has been the only candidate, as nobody else stood out. In these times of uncertainty, Fabian Delph has grown to become a leader and the heartbeat of this Aston Villa side.

You may find this article contradictory but there is a big difference between being captain and simply being in the team. Delph has earned the armband but I still think Vlaar warrants a place in our side, especially when we are in the midst of a defensive injury crisis. A recent poll in ‘The Birmingham Mail’ showed that Villa fans want Vlaar to leave the club in the summer. I don’t, as this season has shown you never know how many good defenders you need in your ranks.

To stay or not to stay? That’s up to Ron Vlaar. Either way, we will need him for the remainder of this campaign.

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My name's Dan Bardell. I'm 29 and I sit in the Upper Holte with my dad. This is our 22nd year as season ticket holders. My favourite ever players are Ian Taylor, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Gareth Barry, Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen and Stan Petrov. My current favorites are Westwood, Clark and Grealish. Feel free to comment or follow me on twitter: @danbardell

2 comments

  1. Is Vlaar leaving ? I’m not sure he is ! All the talk from the OS suggests he is content at Villa , and all the talk of him leaving is down to press speculation about his contract . Certainly talk about ManU has from what I’m told — no substance and they are looking elsewhere for defensive reinforcements . Vlaar’s fitness is however a concern and I’m wondering whether he might follow Delaney to Bodymoor

  2. I want rid of Vlaar ASAP.

    While he’s a good player he is one of our top earners and he is almost constantly injured. While this season has been particularly bad in that he’s only managed 13 appearances he also struggled last season when there seemed to be constant niggles that he couldn’t shake. I know he might move on somewhere and never get injured again but for me he’s a liability who always looks one tackle away from a stretcher.

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