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Stop persisting with Ash 'in the hole'


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I have been one of Gérard's biggest advocates since his arrival. I have bought into the long term vision set out for Villa by Randy and Houllier and I have defended the short-term setback of the '10/'11 season for perhaps longer than has been reasonable. So you can be sure that the following criticism is not borne from some long-held prejudice, ulterior motive or that it is a knee-jerk reaction as a way to vent other frustrations. With eight games left this season, Aston Villa Football Club are flying far too close to the disaster zone than anyone outside small heath could have dreamed of going into April.

There are probably many reasons as to why we are where we are, but I know I am not alone in thinking that there is one single and simple way to put a lot of it right.

For the love of McGrath will you PLEASE put Ashley Young back on the left wing immediately, Mr. Houllier

This one act would make two immediate improvements to our team.

Firstly and most importantly it would take our best and most effective player and it would put him in his best and most effective position. We have gone beyond the point where we need to try and keep him happy by playing him in his 'favourite' position in the hope that he'll hang around in the summer. What little (zero?) hope we have of keeping him beyond this season will definitely disappear if we're turning out in the Championship every week. Putting Ashley Young on the wing would bring him more into the game and it would give the likes of Darren Bent the ammunition and the support play of a player that (on the wing) has been our player of the season for nigh on the past 3 years. He may be great in the hole for England but we are not England. We don't have the supporting cast that he enjoys for his national team. We need him in his best position for Aston Villa and it's abundantly clear to a lot of people that left wing is that position.

Secondly, as a consequence of freeing up the second striking position, it could be used by someone better suited to that position. For example we could employ Gabby Agbonlahor there, you know, where he has scored 40 goals in the past 3 season instead of the 4 he has managed this season? Gabby has been significant collateral damage as a result of this bewildering use of Ashley Young and Villa have suffered as a result.

It sounds rather simplistic to suggest that swapping Gabby & Ashley's current positions would solve a lot of our attacking problems but sometimes the problem is that simple. We're not a million miles from a good team. We showed against Blackburn Rovers that when it clicks it can be very good. One of the things I have not been able to defend for Houllier is his continued use of square pegs in round holes. I can understand with someone like Delph at left back when there is no obvious alternative, but when you are persisting with such a glaringly obvious misuse of a player; the reasons for which look ostensibly like placating him; then I think the fans at this point in the season can say "Hang on a minute Gérard, that ain't right".

As I said earlier, there are obviously other deeper tactical issues defensively that are equally as damaging to our matchday performances, but every little helps. If we could ease the pressure on the defence by sorting out the attack then things will improve. If we can solve our problems one at a time then things will improve. A few quick wins under our belt from here on and the fans might start to give the team some leeway.

Just try it for one game. You never know, it might work - as it has done for the past 3 years.

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I've been saying this since gabby came back. It's mindless and even stevie wonder can see that its not working. Get gabby upfront and young on the wing and give it a chance, it surely can't be any worse than the current setup.

Another thing I do agree with is that the short-term setback of the '10/'11 season for, perhaps, the longer term improvement is acceptable. The problem is that Houllier isn't the man to deliver that long term improvement, he's not up to it.

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Another thing I do agree with is that the short-term setback of the '10/'11 season for, perhaps, the longer term improvement is acceptable.
Yeah, though with the obvious caveat (which is always an unwritten rule) that we don't suffer relegation during 10/11. There are setbacks and then there are setbacks.
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I know im in a minority but i think Young is effective in the hole. He just needs better players around him. You can take almost any game and if you look at it objectively find 3 or 4 decent contributions by Young that should have been converted. One i always point out if the blackpool game, viewed as one of Ashleys worst, he still managed to put Downing through for a one on one, put Makoun through into the 6 yard box, put NRC through behind the blackpool back 4 only to be fouled. In the last minute he was also fouled in the penalty box but nothing given. Hes also been awarded more penalties than any other player in the prem this season. I personally think that those around him need to start contributing more. Im not saying its working brilliantly, just that i believe its working more effectively than others suggest.

I also dont believe that GH is pandering to him by playing him there. GH has continued to upset players and freeze them out in all areas of the pitch. To suggest that he is playing one player in a particular position would seemingly go against all evidence. AY was also played behind a front man by MON in pre season and by KMac

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I know im in a minority but i think Young is effective in the hole. He just needs better players around him.

And if he doesn't have better players around him? And if we don't have a transfer window between now and the end of the season in order to put better players around him, what do you do then? Persist with him in the hole and risk going down?

This is my point. We need to live in the now. Use what we have now. And right now, Ash needs to be on the wing.

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Ashley cannot judge a pass, and he cannot play with his back to goal. He is possibly the worst candidate out of our attacking players to play the position. Its funny, because he's **** off in the summer anyway... so what are we doing here exactly? Giving him a season-long testimonial?

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I can understand that Houiller has come in and tried to change our philosophy and move to a more European style. However the square pegs that he keeps trying to put into round holes are just not working. He needs to watch the season review of the last few seasons when we have been relatively sucessful and go back to basics. Ie. players playing in their natural position.

Not their favourite position, we need to stop thinking about keeping individuals happy and start thinking what's right for the team we have.

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Mr Capello showed the world on saturday where Ash should be playing and where his best position is. That is as one of a front 3, where he has space to run at defenders and get them turning, where he can drive on and shoot himself or put a ball across the box where Bent will finish the job.

According to the papers he will be playing there tonight again, this time with Downing as the other wide/front man and Carroll between them. Why GH has not been playing these two either side of Bent I just cannot entertain. We would be much more of an attacking threat than we have been recently.

Behind these 3 there can be a three man midfield of Makoun to pass it around; Delph to fetch and carry and NRC to break it up. Petrov can be in reserve. That would make us tighter in midfield and give more cover to the back four where Walker would be free to rampage down the wing. One problem at the moment is we do not have a similar type player to play down the left.

People will say what about Albrighton, well he is a good winger but needs to learn how to play as a front man and be more dangerous in front of goal. He is still young and I have no doubt he will learn and improve but at the moment he would be understudy to Ash and Downing as Gabby would be understudy to Bent.

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I know im in a minority but i think Young is effective in the hole. He just needs better players around him.

And if he doesn't have better players around him? And if we don't have a transfer window between now and the end of the season in order to put better players around him, what do you do then? Persist with him in the hole and risk going down?

This is my point. We need to live in the now. Use what we have now. And right now, Ash needs to be on the wing.

In our current predicament id play him on the wing. My comments were about whether i thought he could play the position which i do and i think he has proved that. For the good of villa he needs to play on the wing right now, this is i believe more to do with the standard of those around him and less to do with his own performances. Him playing on the wing means no Albrighton though.

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I don't think he's that bad in the hole, I mean at times, he's been shocking like Wolves etc...but also in other games, WBA at home, Blackburn home, he's been really good. However, It's not working that well because I don't think we have a settled team and we don't have a striker who is going to win many balls in the air. Like against Wolves, some decent build up but then plenty of times, we were forced to go a little more direct and then we simply lost out. I think we're better for last 8 games just cutting out trying to play perfect football and the 'ideal' way where we build up from defence to attack, rarely have to hit a long pass and generally dominate games like against say Blackburn but more into a style that will just grind out results for these last 8 games. I think if we went into a PROPER 4-5-1, because what we play at the moment is 4-4-1-1 or bordering 4-4-2 at times, or into a proper 4-4-2 with Heskey up top. Make ourselves tough to beat, give ourselves an ariel threat and I'm positive we'd pick up 8-10 points until end of season.

I think this system can work but it needs time, something we don't have.

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Exactly POB. This isn't about him being 'bad' in the hole. It's about playing him where he is best for us and where he can do the most damage in the immediate future.

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I agree. I think both him and Downing coming in off the wings is a scary prospect for any team, no matter what our recent form... I suppose we just cross our fingers and hope Houllier was watching the England games!

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I'm too lazy to find the quote but i recall Houllier stating he wants our team to do a 4-3-3. But we are not technically ready or something. So if Ash stays I'd assume it'd be implemented next season along with man marking.

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If Houllier has said that - ie: 4 3 3 - then that's got to be good news. No-one. Not even Barry Fry could fail to see how England's shift to the same shape benefited the attack. Downing Bent Young or any combination thereof will surely be better for Villa - and will help England in the longer term too.

Could Fabio have saved our Villa?

How many Villa faces were in that England team for Christ'sake? It felt like all our yesterday's at times.

So sad we lost G Cahill.

And purchased C Davies.

Doh!

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I don't know if it's really Houllier's choice. MON switched Ash into the hole pre-season. KMAC kept him there and GH continued the futile effort. Perhaps it's the most valuable, talented and influential player in the squad that's demanding to play there and since the players contract is on a knife edge the managers hands are tied? Perhaps.

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Mr Capello showed the world on saturday where Ash should be playing and where his best position is. That is as one of a front 3, where he has space to run at defenders and get them turning, where he can drive on and shoot himself or put a ball across the box where Bent will finish the job.

According to the papers he will be playing there tonight again, this time with Downing as the other wide/front man and Carroll between them. Why GH has not been playing these two either side of Bent I just cannot entertain. We would be much more of an attacking threat than we have been recently.

Behind these 3 there can be a three man midfield of Makoun to pass it around; Delph to fetch and carry and NRC to break it up. Petrov can be in reserve. That would make us tighter in midfield and give more cover to the back four where Walker would be free to rampage down the wing. One problem at the moment is we do not have a similar type player to play down the left.

People will say what about Albrighton, well he is a good winger but needs to learn how to play as a front man and be more dangerous in front of goal. He is still young and I have no doubt he will learn and improve but at the moment he would be understudy to Ash and Downing as Gabby would be understudy to Bent.

Agree with this 100%. This formation would be both more solid, with three CM'ers, allow Ash and Downing more freedom to roam/support Bent and allow the full backs, particularly Walker, more freedom to get forward.

Albrighton and Gabby would be impact players that could get 30 minutes off the bench and rest Ash/DJ/Bent.

Please make it happen Ged! :winkold:

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