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The Mysterious Ways of Milan Baros


ChrisVillan
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Has Martin O'Neill finally got through to Milan Baros, or is the Czech forward simply putting himself in the shop window?

In early July 2006 I arrived in Spain to discover, to my horror, that my only source of news about Aston Villa was the BBC's digital equivalent of Ceefax. Towards the end of my holiday I tuned in to find the stunning news of the now infamous players' statement. Up until then I had seen the same story when I checked for the previous six days: an injured Milan Baros was headed for Hamburg, but Villa had turned down a £5m bid from the German side. I was furious. For £5m I'd have flown him to Hamburg myself. For free. And slipped him a fiver to never come back.

There have always been question marks about Milan Baros' dedication to the Villa cause. His goals are credited by some fans for our survival last season, others prefer to point at his poor return for putting us in a relegation battle in the first place. At that point in time I thought Milan had a certain amount of quality but lacked effort and he disappointed me in some big games last season. Maybe it's just because I'm a fan, but some days there are 50/50 balls where I just wished I was going in for them rather than him. I'd bust a gut to get there. I'd take an injury to get there. Milan wouldn't, it seemed.

It therefore came as no surprise that with Martin O'Neill installed as manager, the rumours began flying about regarding Baros and his desire to leave, O'Neill's inability to get through to him and the likelihood that Baros would play only a minor part, if that, in the transitional season to come. That was confirmed as Villa started the season well and picked up some excellent results without Milan as he recovered from injury.

The first few games Baros played this season were poor. His touch was, frankly, awful. I became sure he was not putting the effort in and I also began to question his quality. On the rare occasion that he managed to get on the ball, Baros inevitably gave it away. He became both frustrated and frustrating and it seemed destined that our big money signing from just a year ago was heading back to Europe to alienate himself from another set of fans.

Sure enough, as the January transfer window approached, Milan's spotlight-hogging motormouth agent Pavel Paska started appearing in the press talking about this club and that club making approaches for Baros, no doubt engineering himself a nice little earner from his fees (the legal type I mean, just in case the Panorama people are reading and intend to go beyond stating the obvious in their next effort and actually prove it).

And then Milan Baros found himself not only on the pitch, against all the odds, but in the right place at the right time, lashing in a crucial equaliser at Bramall Lane in December. Unexpectedly, he looked delighted. Did he have something to contribute after all?

The opportunities remained sporadic for Baros but over the Christmas period his performances improved, showing not only flashes of quality but the kind of effort we hadn't even seen from him in the season previous. He eventually played himself into contention, while unfortunately still not scoring, and, unless I'm the only one, he forced himself back into the consciousness of the fans. All of a sudden he wasn't the last player in the squad deserving of a place on the teamsheet.

Good performances at Tottenham Hotspur and at home against Chelsea were followed last weekend by a confidence-boosting equaliser after coming on for the bulk of the second half against Manchester United. Today, in an otherwise entirely abject Villa performance, Baros actually seemed intent on grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. He chased everything, he worked exceptionally hard and he always seemed to want the ball. That's an improvement, make no mistake about it. But Baros' big redeemer today was not just his effort, as we saw some of the quality I was sure had disappeared. His close control was good and he was very strong as he beat Nemanja Vidic in the corner, held off three or four United defenders on the goal-line and nudged the ball inside for Gabriel Agbonlahor to tuck in our consolation goal.

Was this the same Milan Baros as the man who has disappointed so intensely for large chunks of his Villa career?

My answer to that question is, predictably, no. But why? The best efforts of Mr Paska have to provide the possibility that Milan is just putting himself in the shop window. Although I don't see him as a superstar - or even a major part of Villa's future - the man has a Golden Boot from Euro 2004 and a Champions League Winner's medal. Misleading facts, perhaps, but facts which could have Baros thinking he should be at a European club with Champions League football. Maybe he is trying to show managers on the continent what he can do. Who knows.

Another possibility is that Milan has a renewed confidence after finding the net against Sheffield United, and certainly against Manchester United, but I feel that brings his commitment into question anyway. Or has Martin O'Neill finally got through to him? Does he think he has a part to play at last? Has he bought into the "new" Villa ideals? Does Milan Baros want to stay, despite Paska and supposedly Old Mama Baros being desperate to suggest otherwise? Again, who knows.

What I do know is I am no longer praying that Milan Baros leaves Aston Villa this month. He's not in my good books just yet, but he's been Snopaked out of the tome scruffily marked 'Cheerio'. He's got a way to go to prove himself at Villa, but I for one am beginning to accept the possibility that I may have judged him too soon.

ChrisVillan

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Very well written CV.

Overall it looks as if i rate him a bit more than you do but I think that's a fair summary of his time here. Perhaps a little more emphasis should be placed on his injury and subsequent time out as a cause for his poor form.

However I think it is unlikely that he is staying. His agent, as you say, is openly touting him and you can only presume that since neither the manager or player have denied these reports that they are happy for him to go.

Part of this improvement will be because he is that type of player who inexplicably seems to turn it on at times, Viduka is perhaps the best example of this. But i think it would be naive to not realise that he is showing for other clubs to come in for him

I wish he would stay and see how successful he could be if his heart was in it, but since it isnt it's best for all parties if he is replaced. He'll do a Savo if moved to Spain imo.

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i'm not convinced he wants to be at villa and he wants to play european football, whcih is fair enough when you've had the successes hes had you don't want to be wasting the prime of your career at an average premiership team who aren't competing in any european tournament.

hopefully villa can show the ambition which matches the fans and our more high profile players in petrov, baros and barry

i think hes a player who needs to feel wanted, and when he has seemed to be publicly unhappy was when we had just survived relegation, not where he wants to be, and when he isn't in the team.

He wasn't in the team earlier in the season and got brought off early in games, whcih made him feel that MON had no faith in him, and i think that effected his confidence more than just not scoring, thus being why he was more of a success last season because DOL put plenty of faith into him.

hes a quality player on his day, i hope we can keep hold of these sort of players, and get rid of the players who we know can't succeed at the higher stages of the premiership and in europe, like hughes for example.

i just hope we can sign higher quality players now and in the summer, to show our better players that we are moving in the right direction, and with better players around them players like petrov and baros will improve as well.

We shouldn't be letting any of our strikers go this month, it would be almost suicide as we are short on quality anyway, if anyone should go it has to be angel IMO, hes 31 and hasn't got that bit of magic what baros has

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A very good post Chris and one that echoes my own feelings and frustrations as far as Baros is concerned. He looked like a top class player today, but will he look the same if he is still a Villa player the first week in february?

Past experience suggests not and that the dramatic improvement is because Baros is putting himself in the shop window and looking for a move, in which case he will have attracted further attention and put his price up today.

I hope I'm wrong because his performance today was a pleasure to watch, but I fear that enigmatic players don't suddenly become committed team members overnight and put club before self.

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I couldn't agree more. Like many of you I guess I've seen most of Milan's appearances for VILLA. He has been so frustrating and often looks as though he believes he made a big mistake by signing for us on that late August day in 2005. So often he just doesn't look like he's putting any effort into his game.

But make no mistake the man is a class footballer and one, given the difficulties we are experiencing this transfer window; that we can ill afford to lose as we enter yet another 2nd half season battle.

Milan you were excellent today. Best player on the pitch 2nd half. Lots of effort and no little skill.

I don't care whose eyes its for. Keep it up!

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Good post Chris,as usual. I rate Milan Baros as a quaility player of the calibre that we would all be pleased paradoxically to bring in....He ticks all the right boxes.

I have long held the opinion that Villa Park is a strikers grave yard and that many of our previous players in that position have had to carry an enhanced burden of making up for the lack of quality behind them.

Peter Crouch is an example of a player ridiculed by some fans who failed miserably to see the poor quality of work on display behind him.

We have some fans, who can remember goals with a photographic memory, and suffer amnesia when passes are discussed. We have to improve our ball control,passing ability, postional sense and belief in each other......Until we do that we may be haemorraging money on strikers.

No one knows what is or was in Milan Baros's mind when he signed, but judging by this player and many before him are we walking in to the next big signing yet again with a team that is not capable of sustaining their ambitions.

In my opinion right now we are an enigma. Do we sign 5-10 mill strikers only for them to be valued at half that after 10 matches ...... or do we go to the lower divisions and find rough diamonds that we can mould in to one of our own.

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Good article CV, I was gonna stick something like that about Baros on my blog, but now I will just link to this instead :winkold:

Me & my old man had a conversation on the way home that basically covered the same thing (in fact I think you might have been hiding in the back of the car) and to be honest it is easy to be skeptical about him.

At the minute though, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

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A nice piece, and I agree with almost all of it.

I've just got a niggling feeling that it could have been written by a Liverpool fan in 2005. Maybe this is just how he is ?

I'm not convinced Milan will ever turn the corner completely and be the player he can be, I think he's destined to see out his career looking like he might.

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Good player - bad attitude. He needs to grow up and realise a few things like;

1) He does not have a god given right to play every week.

2) Without us (football supporters) he's nothing.

3) His agent is a nob!

4) He's not bigger than any club.

5) He needs to listen to the coaches and work hard to improve his game.

If he does that lot he'll be an excellent player and have a successful career, if he doesn't he'll be another Anelka.

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if he doesn't he'll be another Anelka.

That's a really bad example because Anelka has SO much more talent than Baros and has scored goals at every Premiership club he's been at.

I'd take him in a flash.

I think their both are very talented but don't seem to fulfil their early promise, both have questionable agents, both are temperamental. That's where the similarities are I think.

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