Aston Villa have been an absolute mess of a club for a couple seasons now. Because of that, we've had many players over the past couple seasons who've shown flashes of brilliance, but then haven't kept it up. Hopefully someday we'll get out of this rut and be able to figure out a way to harness that potential. One can dream.
Q: Andi Weimann and Matt Lowton both left the club this week. What is, for you, the saddest instance of an Aston Villa player not being able to come good?
Right now I think it's Carles Gil. There's still time but this one seems particularly frustrating given the obvious talent level of the player and the seemingly incurable lack of interest from Tim Sherwood. It seems like a "he doesn't do enough on the training ground" type of thing which is hard because we can't really know about what goes on there day in and day out.
I won't write off Gil until he's sold but it would be unfortunate for him to never really get a chance to add to his goal against Bournemouth.
For me, while the selling of used-to-be-high-potential academy graduates like Andi Weimann, Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton is always painful and sad, the absolute worst is when a player comes good AFTER he leaves Aston Villa. For that reason, I'm going to mention two names -- Gary Cahill and Michael Bradley -- both of whom were never given the time necessary to come good even though they showed potential and obviously have become near the best players in their respective national teams since leaving Villa for little to no money. Stupid O'Neill and McLeish.
Honestly? Andi Weimann and Matt Lowton. The club could've probably sold the pair for a combined £15 million two summers ago, and now we've taken around £4 million for the pair. It's the most damning indictment of Paul Lambert's time as Aston Villa manager that neither player — both who looked like future stars 24 months ago — kicked on, with both headed to the Championship after being the second- and third-brightest young stars on that team.
Also though, Alex McLeish can rot in hell for not picking up the club's option to buy Michael Bradley. For as terrible as his year in charge was, it would've been a success if he just could've signed the most beautiful bald dude in the world.
When Albrighton left I was devastated, I really thought he could've made it at Villa, but cheers to him for coming good at Leicester. He's probably my "saddest" departure. But for variety's sake, I've always been disappointed with Charles N'Zogbia. Sure, he's had a few good moments, and actually looked a bit better under Sherwood. But in 4 years at the club, he's only scored 4 goals. To be fair, he was injured for one of those years, but still, in his 3 years at Wigan, he scored 15 goals. He's come nowhere near his 9.5 million price tag, and frustrates me beyond all measure. For a "creative" player, he loses possession ALL the time. He was absolutely atrocious in the Cup Final, and that was pretty much the last straw for me. So while N'Zogbia certainly isn't the "saddest", he's probably the most frustrating.
I'm gonna go way back and say Peter Schmeichel. He'd been such a titanic figure in the 90s when I grew up watching football and it was so exciting for me to see him at Villa. Logically it was never going to be much more than a swansong but the fact that he lost his place to Peter bloody Enckelman...
Nathan Delfouneso, Jean Makoun, Jonathan Hogg, Michael Bradley, Wayne Routledge, Gary Cahil, Peter Whittingham; and I probably could go on. It seems like every season we sell a player who goes on to do good things elsewhere. It probably doesn't help that by being addicted to Football Manager, I've seen all these players staying at Villa and excelling. So I can't say that there is one that sticks out the most, but rather it is the philosophy of selling that is the sad part. And now Andi Weimann and Matt Lowton can be added to my list, along with players like Nicklas Helenius in all likelihood.
For some reason it's Jean Makoun. I really thought he had oodles of potential and could have been a great force next to Fabian Delph. Was that a good read on the situation? Maybe not. But that's the only nice thing about busted stars who fade away: you can always dream they could've been something else.
There's a part of me that is incredibly disappointed with how Libor Lozak turned out. When he came, he was shrouded in mystery due to his admirable success in the Europa League but relative ineffectiveness in the Serie A with Lazio. When he came, he showed moments of promise, and made some fans believe he could one day be heir to Christian Benteke's throne of aerial dominance and clinical finishing, a combination that neither Gabby Agbonglahor nor the recently departed Andi Weimann could fill. He was invested with the fans and showed passion for the club, but the way he has been unable to overcome injuries has been truly saddening. We never saw his full potential, but I still hold hope for next fall, assuming he doesn't get hurt or re-aggravate something this summer, which he probably will.
Long time readers of the site will know how much I loved Marc Albrighton, so I'm not sure I could pick anyone else. From the time he burst onto the scene until the time he left, he was by far my favorite Villa player. No one's really at fault for him leaving the club. Leicester City offered him a decent amount of money. He was right to take it and Villa were right not to match it. It's just sad when a player who was so exciting when he first showed up, someone who grew up supporting the club, just not be able to really make an impact the way he might have. Oh well. I'm gonna go hug my Albrighton shirt and cry now.
That's what we had to say and now it's your turn. Who do wish had come good at Aston Villa?