Richard Dunne And James Collins Can Still Play For Aston Villa. Supposedly.

Gerard Houllier: "Sure, Richard Dunne has the 'opportunity' to play for Aston Villa in the future."

This is the story that never ends, it just goes on and on my fans, some people started reporting it not knowing what it was, then continued writing just because there was no news because this is the story that never ends... Richard Dunne. James Collins. Booze. Insults. Punishments.To add to that all, Aston Villa have a defensive crisis on their hands before the Saturday match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Despite the myriad of speculation suggesting that Richard Dunne, at least, will never again play for AVFC, Gérard Houllier insists that the duo have been given appropriate punishments and that, once they're back to full fitness, will again have the opportunity to play for the club. But does this sort of "opportunity" really mean much?

Think about it. How much "opportunity" does Stephen Warnock really have? Will he be back against Wolves? When Richard Dunne rowed with Gary McAllister, was it his attitude or his fitness that kept him out of the side? What about John Carew? Did Robert Pires receive playing time because he happened to kiss a little rear?

Clearly I don't know the answers to the questions. What I do know is that the Villa are under an enormous amount of stress. They're coping with a new coaching style and a new personality. The play on the field just isn't clicking, and they're wondering if they have to worry about relegation. It's likely that many of the players are engaged in a vicious cycle: they've seen a downturn in their play since last season, attributable to age, injury, or a new style they're meant to adapt to. The players then start to question their own abilities and since that never makes anyone feel good, seek to lash out at someone, be it a coach, manager, another player, or a reporter. Then that player gets in trouble with the club and ends up on the bad side of the manager, leaving the loop on endless repeat.

Despite what Houllier promises, I'm doubting we'll see much of Dunne for the remainder of the season. At some point, there has to be a last straw.

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