For a certain set of fans this summer there has been a saga going on which has scared them to the very core of their loyalty. If this couldn’t be done, where would the club be going? How would there ever be progress, to make that next all important step. There have been new signings completed, contract extensions for promising players, fans favourites and key players but if this deal went south, went wrong then the summer and the future would be ruined.
In the afternoon, Harry Winks signed a new long term contract at Tottenham, so, overall a good Monday, brightening a dull day at work. This though was the just the starter, the appetizer. For in the evening, Spurs fans could see Nabil Bentaleb seated alongside Mauricio Pochettino, pen in hand, contract on the table. A load lifted, the incoming dark clouds of inevitable set backs of past dispersed with a brisk forceful brush of an arm.
The Algerian is perhaps, Harry Kane aside, the fans favorite, his passion unsurpassable, from his first game and continued through every minute of ecstacy, relief, rejoice and pain he has learned to love the club, its fans and its project.
Some still see him synonymous with the small Tim Sherwood regime which was full of tactical naivety, cliches and unprofessionalism yet the 20 year old is by far the best thing to come out of the turbulent year. When at White Hart Lane there is a clear divide between those players who receive unrelenting support and those who cannot afford to misplace a pass. Bentaleb sits firmly in the former camp. The reason being he hardly does anything wrong. He is the first to get stuck, he keeps the tempo up when attacking, looking to win the ball and start an attack quickly. When he falls to his knees or pumps his fists in the air when the team scores his place in the lilywhite hearts gets a little deeper.
In the season past and his Tottenham career he has been through ups and downs already but he is young and will continue to learn and to improve. His place in the team is unquestionable, he is touted as a future club captain, his maturity is beyond his age, the responsibility he takes in a team lacking in leaders is commendable and needed for a team looking to make the step up. He may not score a load of goals and he may not sit like Makelele but he goes about his play in a mature intelligent matter which would be highly praised if he were English or even Spanish but he is unfashionable and it may work in his favour.
He needs a real defensive midfielder alongside him so he can flourish, but the Algerian is so tactical astute he can even play well at left back. The contract renewals of Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Ryan Mason and Danny Rose have all given North Londoners hope that the future is bright, youthful, hopeful and united. Of course Gareth Bale and Luka Modric all signed new contracts before they left but Levy new what he was doing and this time the club has a manager the players love, who has a plan, a vision and a style which players love and the team are united and the fans need to be united behind them. The signing of this contract unites fans in belief they can keep their best players and challenge for what seems an increasingly impossible haven of playing European football on a Tuesday and Wednesday night under the lights of the Lane.
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Steve Bruce’s lack of confidence in Scott Hogan made evident
The striker saw Rushian Hepburn-Murphy given a chance ahead of him v Bolton Wanderers.
When Aston Villa snapped up Scott Hogan last January he looked a smart recruit. Villa paid a fee reported to be in the region of £12 million by the BBC.
Hogan had been in fine form with Brentford previous to the transfer being made.He had scored 21 goals in 34 games for the club since joining from Rochdale in July 2014.
Aston Villa were hopeful he could have a similar goalscoring impact at Villa Park. That has not exactly been the case. Hogan has managed just six goals in 44 league appearances for Aston Villa and has struggled to live up to his price-tag.
After the Bolton Wanderers game yesterday, Hogan will be wondering where he stands at Villa Park.
Aston Villa lost 1-0 against relegation battlers Bolton Wanderers this weekend. The defeat was a bitter blow to Villa’s automatic promotion hopes, with Villa now seven points behind Cardiff City in second.
But whilst chasing the game, after Adam Le Fondre had given Bolton the lead, Bruce looked to the Villa bench. He decided to bring on another striker to partner Lewis Grabban up top. But, instead of going to Hogan, Bruce brought on 19-year-old Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
The pacey striker had only played 15 minutes of first-team football this season and is yet to score a senior goal.
Hogan eventually did make his way onto the pitch but could not prove Bruce wrong for turning to the teenager instead.
But it highlights an obvious lack of confidence in the £12 million striker from Bruce. Hogan last scored in the Championship at the start of February and it is a serious concern as Villa now look likely to challenge for the play-off places in the Championship.
Hogan will hope he can take a chance to get back in the good books soon, after the Hepburn-Murphy experiment fell flat at the Macron Stadium. If not, then his future at Villa Park is looking increasingly bleak.
Aston Villa fans baffled by Steve Bruce’s risky Rushian Hepburn-Murphy move
The 19-year-old was a shock substitution by Aston Villa in yesterday’s Bolton defeat.
Aston Villa’s automatic promotion hopes look to be over. Following on from their shock 3-1 loss to QPR in the week Steve Bruce’s men lost 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers yesterday.
The result leaves Villa in fourth place, but seven points behind Cardiff City in second. The Bluebirds also have a game in hand.
Villa never really got into the game against the Trotters and, after they beat Championship leaders Wolves 4-1, Villa have struggled.
As Villa began chasing the game yesterday, Steve Bruce made several changes to try and find a goal.
But one which shocked many Aston Villa fans was the decision to bring on Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
The 19-year-old striker was brought on for Conor Hourihane in a bold and attacking move, which did not work.
The decision left the Villa formation misshapen. Not only that, but Hepburn-Murphy has barely had a kick all season. Suddenly thrusting the teenager into the spotlight seemed an odd move from Bruce.
The teen had played just 12 minutes of Championship football before being thrown into action yesterday. His call up to the first-team was likely a reward for a fine recent performance v Reading for the under-23s. But Hepburn-Murphy was not the answer to Villa’s problems yesterday afternoon.
Many Villa fans were surprised he was even on the bench in the first place. Bringing on Keinan Davis would have been a more logical move from Bruce. He also had Scott Hogan on the bench if he wanted to bring on another striker, but instead, Bruce tried the youngster.
It was a move that did not work and left Villa fans thoroughly frustrated with their manager yet again. It now seems Villa will have to settle for the play-offs, which they will try consolidate in the coming weeks.
Here is how some Aston Villa fans reacted to the decision to field Hepburn-Murphy yesterday afternoon…
Hepburn Murphy on…interesting choice.
— AVFC Worldwide (@AVFCWorldwide) March 17, 2018
Hepburn Murphy on is a weird one, would have put hogan ip
— Ryan (@R_e1080) March 17, 2018
Seriously? Hepburn murphy is shocking aswell…. terrible. Davis much better
— Shaun Sidaway (@ShaunySidaway) March 17, 2018
I like the lad but Hepburn Murphy?
— SM???? (@SimplySn0dgrass) March 17, 2018
Hepburn Murphy two miscontrols seriously Bruce not today you fool
— liam bradley (@liambradley15) March 17, 2018
Got to wonder about Bruce’s thinking with bringing on Hepburn Murphy when he has hardly had a kick all season!Desperation?
— Harry deVillan (@HDevillan) March 17, 2018
Can someone tell me the point of the Hepburn-Murphy change!?
— kyle (@KyIeEvans) March 17, 2018
Most lifeless performance ive seen in a long time. No fight, no need for Hepburn Murphy when we have Lansbury on the bench, game was crying out for Jedinak to start
— Adam (@TheFlozzman) March 17, 2018
Hepburn-Murphy? He’s useless
— callum kenny (@callumkenny) March 17, 2018
I think Hepburn Murphy has lots of potential but does he deserve a chance ahead of o hare?
— tony nash (@NashNash194) March 17, 2018
— Steve Evans avfc (@steveavfc52) March 17, 2018
Hogan and Davis sitting on the bench whilst Hepburn-Murphy comes on, that is all
— James (@JamesTuzzio) March 17, 2018
Valued at £25m, Aston Villa and West Ham could have got Benjamin Pavard in 2016
The Stuttgart defender is wanted by top Premier League sides.
This week has seen Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard linked with a move to the Premier League. The 21-year-old is reportedly a target for both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Bild reported this week that the Bundesliga side will not be considering any offers below €30 million (£26.5million).
It is a fantastic rise up the ranks from the Frenchman. After coming through the youth set-up in France with Lille he headed to Germany in 2016. The youngster helped Stuttgart win promotion back to the Bundesliga where he has now been showcasing his best form. Such form saw Pavard even earn his first French international call-up.
For West Ham and Aston Villa, this progression signals a missed opportunity. Back in December 2015 it was reported by Goal that both West Ham and Aston Villa had made an approach to sign Pavard. The then 19-year-old right-back had caught the eye with Lille. Villa were battling relegation at the time and looked to strengthen their leaky defence. West Ham were looking to add fresh faces to their backline.
Neither side managed to get Pavard. In the end he joined Stuttgart for a fee reported to be in the region of €5 million (£4.5 million) by Le Monde.
Now that fee looks like an absolute bargain for a player who looks destined to be heading to the World Cup with France. Pavard would have been a shrewd addition by either Aston Villa or West Ham – but both sides missed out.
Now it looks as though a fee nearer to £30 million will have to be shelled out if one of the Premier League elite want to get their hands on the 21-year-old.
If only Aston Villa or West Ham had managed to get their man back in 2016.
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