Your week in Aston Villa is semi-serious look at all things Villa. Gabby’s off, then.
Walking off into the sunset
Gabby Agbonlahor won’t be offered a new contract at Aston Villa. The club stalwart’s rapid decline on the pitch and advancing age have ensured that his time at his boyhood club is now over, after 17 long - and sometimes agonising - years. Come July, Villa will be gearing up for their first season without Agbonlahor since Graham Taylor and David O’Leary where running things either side of 2002. Regardless of what’s happened, that type of longevity has to be appreciated.
Still, Aston Villa (and any other football club) shouldn’t be in the business of paying players that they aren’t going to use.
I’m sure we will write more on Gabby’s next steps (and we’ll follow him, how could we not? It’ll do no harm) in the near-future, but seriously, where does Agbonlahor end up? Personally, there’s not a single team in the Championship bar perhaps Sheffield United, Neil Warnock’s Cardiff or possibly Burton Albion where he’d fit in. A big issue for Gabby is that he’d be expected to carry a team, due to his large reputation within the game in England. He’d be a marquee signing and I don’t think that’s at all possible. Neil Warnock has developed a scene at Cardiff not unlike a footballing rejuvenation school, where misfits and outcasts have thrived. If someone copies that model, maybe there’s something out there for Gabby at this level. It’s a giant-sized maybe though.
Major League Soccer could be calling, and if West Bromwich Albion reject Carlos Vela can lead the line for Los Angeles FC, then there’s scope for Gabby at least fitting in somewhere. Heck, Simon Dawkins spent some well-paid time at San Jose, and even Giles Barnes found some room to kick on. There’s every chance Gabby burns out at MLS (in fact, I’d bet on it as it’s not the type of league one can underestimate), but those who have found comfort there include former Villans Juan Pablo Angel and Liam Ridgewell. There’s a case to be made, and surely a team will take a punt on him if he’s available?
That being said, Gabby is just as likely to turn out for teams like Sutton Coldfield Town FC on a casual basis and just enjoy his football without the immense pressures of high-profile games, roles in the lower-leagues that can give him time to focus on his off-the-pitch interests.
Gabby has attracted a lot of animosity over the years, and criticism of him is indeed fair. He hasn’t turned up, he’s lost his goalscoring touch and he even ended up getting sent to fat-camp in 2016.
Still, I find it hard to outright hate the man like some do. I find it hard to despise anyone involved with Villa. There’s far better things to worry about in life, spend your rage elsewhere.
What’s more, I feel like part of our focus should at least shine on Gabby’s work for the AVFC foundation. He’s spent time with terminally ill kids, and developed genuine friendships with people who are hard-up in terms of health and finances. He didn’t destroy it on the pitch, but in terms of this charity work (which he has been performing long before it was the done thing), I have to take my hat off to the man. If only things turned out differently on the pitch.
Some Villa players are constantly filming themselves while driving. This is breaking the law. Stop it, maybe? The day when Jonathan Kodjia’s Bentley twats a sixteen year-old because he’s dancing on Instagram while at the wheel is coming, and it’s coming soon. I pray that any damage done, isn’t harmful nor fatal - because we all know how this is going to end.
I find it hard to believe that people film themselves while driving. It speaks volumes about personal intelligence if you’re going to gift-wrap evidence of criminal activity and fling off into the internet, right?
It’s one thing to film the road before you, but to turn the camera to your face as your car drifts around and around Smallbrook Queensway?
Keinan Davis: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Even Gabby enjoyed his time in the sun for the England football team with a very decent performance against Germany back in 2008. Still, he’s not the only one as Keinan Davis is smashing it up for the English Under-20 side.
He scored against Poland to rescue the Three Lions, before doubling up with Easah Suliman to down Portugal - with the pair adding a goal each in a three nil win. Send them to Russia, Gaz. We need a centre-back there, anyway.