Mat Kendrick published a telling piece in today's Birmingham Mail in which he snagged a few quotes from Charles N'Zogbia. Since he came to Villa last summer, the midfielder has been a divisive figure, stemming from his poor results and the high price paid to get him to Villa Park.One of the major criticisms, leveled even by his defenders, was that he showed little of the creativity and panache that he became known for in his time at Wigan.
It seems that N'Zogbia has realized things are not going quite as well as anyone would like. Kendrick's article is full of great quotes, so make sure you read it. These two, however, caught my eye:
"I definitely need to be getting a few more goals and a few more assists," said N'Zogbia... "We have to definitely make sure we show the other team that we're going to play in their half."
One of the biggest problems that Villa faced last season - and as seen in Saturday's match, a problem they still face - is a lack of creativity. In Darren Bent the team has one of the very best finishers in football. No one has ever considered him to be a self-creating goal-scorer though, and he can only finish that which has been started. Aston Villa would unquestionably be better off if Bent were provided with good service.
In that vein, it's heartening to see N'Zogbia talking about the need both to push the attack and emphasize his own goals and assists. He's got the ability to be a goal scorer, but if he really focuses on the assists, he could provide a lot of the service that Darren Bent has been looking for.
I'm dubious that the change will happen, though. While N'Zogbia is an immensely talented player, he's also a touchy guy who has demonstrated that he needs to feel loved in order to perform well. We (the 7500 to Holte writers) talked about this in an email thread yesterday. Lambert is the type of no-nonsense team-above-all manager that doesn't do well in coddling players. Unless Lambert is willing to change his managerial approach - unlikely, given the fact that it has been so successful and is what got him the job in the first place - N'Zogbia is unlikely to feel the love. And an unloved Charles is a sub-par Charles.
I really hope I'm wrong, but as good as it is to see these quotes from N'Zogbia, I can't put any stock in them until the results actually show up on the pitch.