Gabriel Agbonlahor | Mr Aston Villa
Club Captain, fan favourite, club legend and Mr Aston Villa.
Gabriel Agbonlahor is a lucky man, coming through the academy at the right place, at the right time.
in 2006, Randy Lerner brought Aston Villa for just under £100m and employed highly rated manager Martin O’Neill, a man who knew how to get performances out of players. Randy Lerner pumped millions into the club, helping modernise the stadium and revamped Bodymoor Heath training ground giving the players some of the best facilities in the country, certainly setting Villa up to try and compete with getting into the illustrious Champions League.
Martin O’Neill saw the raw talent of Gabriel Agbonlahor, giving him a chance to appear first on the right wing, in an attempt to utilise the youngsters pace. Sure enough, O’Neill moved him into a striking role, playing on the shoulder of opposition defenders. Martin O’Neill saw his raw talent and speed, what Randy Lerner saw was a boy who he could mould into Mr Aston Villa, a one club man that could be on the front of all the adverts for years to come and with the right leadership, be coached into a top striker for England and Aston Villa.
An unwritten contract of loyalty was created, Randy Lerner trusted Martin O’Neill’s judgement on the youngsters’ ability and Lerner had no issue rewarding the Gabby with new contracts for performing well with John Carew and Emile Heskey in the Premier League.
However, Randy Lerner was drunk on owning a Premier League football club, not realising the cash he was spending on Villa was unsustainable despite selling key players for big money. Martin O’Neill wasn’t given cash to replace James Milner thus tendered his resignation, leaving Agbonlahor’s development in the gutter. The club were left with very little knowledge of the technical side of football, not knowing how they can build on the foundations left by Martin O’Neill.
Gerard Houllier was brought into Aston Villa, bringing a new ethos of how to play the game, wanting players to utilise their technical ability to beat the opposition. It quickly became clear that Gabby didn’t fit into Houllier’s plans, it was the beginning of his downturn.
After Martin O’Neill left Aston Villa, no manager saw the same raw talent in Gabby. They all were happy to shift him out to the wing so he could race full backs to the byline, but he was nothing more a player that could do a job for the team and he quickly fell out of the limelight.
His body language, his shushing of the fans when he does finally does his job of scoring a goal and his off the field behaviour point toward a striker that let other people in the world of football defeat him. But for how bad it was at Aston Villa since Martin O’Neill left the club, it will never be worse than being the same little attacking utility man but on a less lucrative contract. After all, he is Randy’s Mr Aston Villa and with his form over the last few seasons, where would he go?
Agbonlahor isn’t a club legend, he isn’t Mr Aston Villa nor is he a fans favourite, he’s a footballer that knows where the grass is greener.
Aston Villa fans get behind players that put a shift in, week in week out. Gabby Agbonlahor may have done in the past, but I can only feel that his heart isn’t it in anymore.
A club Captain is someone that represents the values of a club and communicates that on and off the pitch, acting as a role model to young fans. Smoking shisha as a professional footballer isn’t acting as a role mode, smoking shisha when you’re Aston Villa club captain and rock bottom of the Premier League, is nothing short of an embarrassment and a PR disaster for Aston Villa.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has been riding the Randy Lerner designated Mr Aston Villa brand for long enough.
Instead of being a victim of club circumstances and managerial changes, he is the epitome of the issues that surround Aston Villa today. Poor decision making and over all short sightedness are two characteristics you’d associate with Agbonlahor’s game play in recent seasons, but you can apply those right back at the Villa board, so hey maybe I’m wrong and he is Mr Aston Villa after all.