Every club needs a bench. Every weekend, a team's bench will be made up of players that would play normally who aren't because of tactical rotation or a slight dip in form. And then there's the players who are there to make up the numbers. Maybe they're young kids who will be given a shot if the match situation is right. And then there are those who won't get on the pitch. Today, we take a look at the players who often found themselves on the bench at Villa and why we love them anyway.
Q: On Saturday, Shay Given made his first league appearance for Aston Villa since the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Who is your all-time favorite Aston Villa bench/squad player?
That's easy - Nathan Delfouneso whose video game self is mostly responsible for me being here in the first place. In one iteration of Football Manager he turns into a 50m pound striker. In real life? I don't wanna talk about it.
I've got to agree with Andrew. The Fonz was amped on Football Manager and didn't turn out the same as his digital self. He was always the guy who I thought had something special and it's a shame it didn't come to anything!
For variety's sake, I'll go with Steve Sidwell, purely because of what happens 27 seconds into this video.
Until recently it probably would have been Jack Grealish, but he's out now since he's a regular. Absent Grealish, I think I have to say Jonathan Hogg, mostly because I can't really remember anything about him except writing stories every now and again. I was convinced that he was going to be something big and, obviously, that never played out. (Update for the curious: he now plays for Huddersfield Town in The Championship where he made 26 appearances this year.)
Even though I can't ever recall watching him actually play or do anything of note for Villa, I'll go with Moustapha Salifou. He was a promising youngster who played for Togo at the 2006 World Cup, then signed with Villa and appeared to have a bright future, but he only made four league appearances for the club in four seasons as well featuring in some UEFA Cup (as it was called then) matches. Still, he had a chant and seemed to be loved by the fans. Today, Moustapha Salifou plies his trade in the German fifth division despite having more than 50 international caps for Togo.
Salifou is an easy number two for me, but there is only one person I can actually choose. Andy. Marshall. Eternal third-string goalkeeper, one time 7500 to Holte newsman, former goalkeeping coach/former interim Villa assistant manager. He has the greatest Wikipedia picture in all of Wikipedia pictures. When Villa signed Simon Dawkins, Marshall accidentally called him "Simon Dorkins" on Twitter. I love that man more than he would expect a Villa fan could love him.
I think I'd have to go with Andy Marshall. He never played, and from searching his Wikipedia page, found out he only even made the bench at Villa once.
At the minute, it has to be Carles Gil! But seriously, for me it has to be Wayne Routledge. He is basically the one that got away for me. Granted, he didn't do much before joining us, or indeed straight after leaving us, but since joining Swansea he has been a completely different player. Maybe he didn't get enough of a chance at the club, or maybe we should have been more patient, but seeing just how good he is now makes me wonder why we only played him twice in a year. He definitely would've solved some of our creative problems this season for sure. I considered saying Nicklas Helenius for his Football Manager ability, but I'm still holding out some hope for him!
Those are our answers and now it's your turn. Who's your favorite Villa benchwarmer?