Did Aston Villa have robot coaches at Bodymoor Heath?

Shaun Botterill

The official site ran some praise for Gordon Cowans today, but part of it might have shed some light on the previous coaches Aston Villa have had.

Marc Albrighton had some wonderful things to say about Gordon Cowans on the official site today. It's actually sort of an interesting read, as it covers the transition from striker to winger that Cowans had Albrighton make early in his career. The eye to see the potential, and the manner in which he made the shift, may have saved Super Marc's chances at being a professional footballer. Can you imagine a striker of his build making it in the Premier League?

But that's not what I'm here to highlight. Instead, let's look at what Albrighton has to say about Cowans coaching style now that the Villa legend is working with the first team:

"His style of coaching is definitely one of encouragement. He doesn't treat you like a robot and say 'do this and do that.' He will just give you advice like 'play to your strengths and express yourselves' while still giving you the vital things you need technically.

He will praise you when you're doing well. Obviously you need telling when you do something wrong, but on the other side of the coin it's great to get a pat on the back when you do something well. You need that balance."

All of that is nice praise for Cowans, but I couldn't help reading into it a damning statement about previous coaches that Albrighton has worked with. "He doesn't treat you like a robot" and talk of balance between praise and criticism implies to me that Marc has worked, likely recently, with coaches who have not done that.

Couple this with the reports out of Bodymoor Heath last week that the players were considerably more content in training -- and the reports of bullying by Gary Karsa and Ian Culverhouse -- and it's pretty easy to get a picture of two coaches who were perhaps on the wrong side of the balance that Albrighton mentions.

That, in itself, shouldn't be damning for a coach. But given all of the upbeat talk we've heard since last week's surprise suspensions, it seems as if this is a team who need a bit of a softer touch. So if Paul Lambert is indeed sacked at the end of the season, let's just ignore all of the Felix Magath rumours from the beginning.

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