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So it all begins now


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by AdamHA

2011 is not only the start of a new year, it's the start of Aston Villa's French revolution...

A quite stunning game at Stamford Bridge saw Aston Villa lead the champions for the majority of the second half before conceding two late goals, only to witness Ciaran Clark step up the plate with a deft header at the far post, drawing the game level at 3-3.

Passion, grit, determination and a never say die spirit are key attributes the Villa Park faithful have come to expect from the squad during recent years, attributes which under Houllier seem to have gone missing. Yet for whatever reason the dedication and team spirit appears to have come surging back.

Gerard Houllier himself believes the importance of the Clark's equaliser could indeed hold more importance than salvaging a thoroughly deserved point against Chelsea. "I think the equaliser, to me, epitomises the start of the season for us."

Along with the apparent revival of the team spirit came the desperately needed arrival of form for key players such as Richard Dunne and Brad Friedel.

However the promising display against Chelsea will all be in vain if Aston Villa can't avenge a 1-0 defeat when the Black Cats come to Villa Park. In the last outing between these side Sunderland took all three points thanks to a defensive mix up, which ended up with Richard Dunne poking the ball into his own net from short range.

With the winter window approaching one of Houllier's most appealing factors as a manager, his contacts across not only France, but all of Europe come into play. Exciting European talent is surely on the horizon, something which many fans consider to be somewhat of a missing link in Villa's vastly English squad.

It won't only be an intake of foreign imports at Villa during the January transfer window and indeed the larger summer transfer window, with a star studied display of former first team players up for grabs as Villa look to trim their wage bill. Steve Sidwell, John Carew and Curtis Davies all look set to leave during January, with the possibility of Stephen Warnock, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stephen Ireland and the much sort after Ashely Young following during the summer.

With the possible departures and the breath of fresh air that is the blooding of youth mixed in with new signings under Houllier it won't take too long for Aston Villa's French revolution to take shape.

Although the 31st January seems an age away and five crucial games including an away day at St. Andrews lies between now and then, patience is a virtue and one that is direly needed if Villa are to successfully move up the table this season away from the relegation zone.

So with Aston Villa's precarious situation in mind from now until the end of the season the Villa Park faithful must get behind the team and the manager. Rocking Villa Park, proving why the Holte End is often referred to as the 12th man.

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Yeah. it was great to see the old Villa back again. The whole team had a can do attitude in that game.

Every time we got knocked down by Chelsea we got back up again and kept going after them.

Fantastic spirit from all and thats the attitude the team have to carry through with them from now on.

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I felt it was the first time in a long time that Ged had got 11 players playing in a formation that suited them against that opposition. Probably hasn't happened in recent months other than the Man U and West Brom games.

The key here is probably Ash as I don't think we have a similar link player, as SI has been very disappointing, and without him there is too big a gap between the deeper lying NRC and Petrov and the two striking options of any two out of Gab, Nathan and Emile. I think that this was fully highlighted against Spurs where there was a huge gap. I believe Downing could play this role but Ged doesn't seem to want to recognise this option. I am not sure Gabby could as he seems to play up top. Gary Gardner could fill this role for us?

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If the Chelsea match indicates that Houllier has stopped some of his more damaging actions - criticising players in public, freezing out players who are out of favour (regardless sometimes of form) and imposing tactics and training regimes they don't respond well to - and started to recognise the need to play to the (considerable) strengths of the current squad, then maybe we will start to claw our way out of danger.

However, Houllier has currently managed to get us to 17th, with the second worst defensive record in the premiership (many thanks to the Baggies for taking the position of worst defensive record off us this evening :D), one point away from the drop zone and three points off the bottom.

So one decent performance should not lead us to get carried away and start talking about new eras, dawnings, French revolutions, etc. If we make steady progress through to the end of March, he will start to earn a bit of credit as Villa manager in my book. Until then, I can't really regard him as anything but a bit of a liability, and only a temporary occupant of the manager's job, whose main role is to ensure we stay in the Premiership this season.

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We are and will remain for some time, one defeat away from being deep in the mire. Cannot honestly believe we are 17th place, appalling state of affairs this and Houller has to take the lions share of the responsibility

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I shared your optimism after the Chelsea game, but after watching that shower tonight, I'm convinced that 2011 will not be a good year for us. An owner sticking by a dead-man walking because they know f-all about football, inevitable relegation and mass player exodus, followed by stagnation in the Championship.

Oh, what a wonderful life!!!

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Why the f**K is this happening ? We have most of our 1st players back now and they have a lot of skill that they are not putting into the game.

I am starting to get a bit pissed that the players may only care about playing for a manager they like and don't seem to care about playing for us THE FANS !!

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Why the f**K is this happening ? We have most of our 1st players back now and they have a lot of skill that they are not putting into the game.

I am starting to get a bit pissed that the players may only care about playing for a manager they like and don't seem to care about playing for us THE FANS !!

I think this quote from the Guardian match report may give a bit of an explanation
There was an unease with a flexible formation, which required Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young to play behind and off, rather than alongside, Heskey. While Heskey's ball retention and lay-offs were admirable, the younger men's understanding of their role appeared confused at best. Not once in the first half was Craig Gordon required to make a save
I'd like to think the players were trying their best, but they don't really understand what Houllier wants them to do, and, tbf, it does seem fairly loopy to play Gabby on the left midfield/wing.
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Why the f**K is this happening ? We have most of our 1st players back now and they have a lot of skill that they are not putting into the game.

I am starting to get a bit pissed that the players may only care about playing for a manager they like and don't seem to care about playing for us THE FANS !!

I think this quote from the Guardian match report may give a bit of an explanation
There was an unease with a flexible formation, which required Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young to play behind and off, rather than alongside, Heskey. While Heskey's ball retention and lay-offs were admirable, the younger men's understanding of their role appeared confused at best. Not once in the first half was Craig Gordon required to make a save
I'd like to think the players were trying their best, but they don't really understand what Houllier wants them to do, and, tbf, it does seem fairly loopy to play Gabby on the left midfield/wing.

I agree.

With Gabby's blistering pace it has often been seen that he makes a break down the left wing and when he crosses the ball in to the box there is no one there in time to recieve it.

Gab should be played as a centre forward i.m.o. At the moment his pace is not really paying off as much of an advantage for us.

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"Players operate well when they know exactly what their role is and they have been given time to settle into it and understand it, but if people are not capable of delivering that role, your system will go pear shaped pretty quickly."

Andrew Strauss.

Well it worked for those lads so perhaps our management could learn something from it.

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