Aston Villa will soon be called "The English Barcelona"

Rub your eyes all you like, the title is not going away.


Some of you will guffaw and dismiss me as a looney - you are naive.


Others may have heard whispers and will be intrigued about the outlandish claims.


A few may have have heard or seen quotes from people like Trevor Brooking, Andy Roxburgh, Wenger or a few of the other influencial figures in the game who have cast an impressed eye over the Villa youth set up.


Now this is a claim sensible Villans could not have made under the stewardship of Martin O'Neill. O'Neill craved players with experience, rarely would he give young players a chance to prove them selves in any serious way. A game every now and again if they were lucky was the extent to which he integrated the young players Kevin MacDonald and Gordan "Sid" Cowans had invested so much time in.


MoN was incredibly successful as the Villa manager, I thank him for everything and putting us back in the limelight. The problem with him is everything was for the now, his transfers were in the main for the now.


Houllier has come in, has understood Randy Lerners stance on the club being "Self Sustaining" and a natural movement toward producing our own players has come in conjuction with a batch of young players better than I can ever remember in my life time of watching Villa.


A few most will have heard of by now, Albrighton and Clark can now be added to Gabby in the Villa squad as homegrown first teamers. Bannan now on loan will be included in this by next season.


3 players, all extremely talented. All with the potential to become very decent players.


Bannan has been likened to Villa legend Sid Cowans with his ability to pass the ball and always find space and room.



Albrighton for me already is already one of the best "in play" crossers of the ball in the Premier League. Some say he is Barry Manilows love child, but he's more like a smaller, quicker Beckham to me.



Clark is a brilliant young defender. Not like Phil Jones (who is also a great prospect) who has already filled out and can match players push for push. Clark is a reader of the game, no one will match McGrath for his ability to step out of defence, intersept the ball and start an attack. But Clark is the nearest I've seen, he reads the game so well and with the right battering ram next to him to scare attackers witless he'll be another excellent leader of a defence.


Now your all saying "So what? I can name 3 player from our accademy who look like they could make it."


Well, I say, these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Andreas Weimann is a young striker who has been described by his international coach as "the most exciting talent since Hans Krankl".

Delfouneso, who it seems has been around for years but has only just turned 20. Has been described by "Onze" the french footballing magazine (who didn't do bad picking out Messi and Ronaldo back in '94 as ones to watch) as "the next Thierry Henry". I think some people need to realise Henry struggled until he was 21/22 to establish him self in a top league. It's a tough position and he as yet he hasn't filled out and thus is missing the core strength he needs in the Premier League. The boy has talent in abundance though.



Gardner, Rafa spent 12 months trying to pinch him for Liverpool before being sacked, then tried to take him to Inter. Gardner is used to teams watching him, he's had it since he played in the same Villa reserve team with his brother at just 16 years old. He ran cricles around Essien in a reserve game so much so that Essien gave him his shirt and told him to "concentrate on football, you can be great". His progress was halted by a serious knee injury, but is now back and the signs look great.



Delph, now some will say it is cheating to mention him, and it may be, but United fans claim they "developed" Rooney in to the player he is and Delph moved at a similar age. His progress has also been somewhat thwarted by a bad injury but again this kid looks like having the potential of being another England International supplied by Aston Villa. We have afterall had the most representatives in England Shirts... by some distance too.


Have I finished yet?




Carruthers, Johnson, Halfhuid, Baker and Siegrist are 5 more that all represent their country, have all stepped up to the reserves and have looked excellent against strong teams. All are tipped to progress through the Villa ranks in the next 12-18months.


Then we come to our new "hot prospects" Jordan Graham and Michael Drennan. Two 16 year olds with the World, Sir Alex, King Kenny and Arsene Winger at their feet begging them to join their clubs.


It may never happen, but boy have we got a good chance of being on the brink of something special.


I expect to have Arsenal fans bleating on about their "accademy system".... to you I say 10-1.


We play in Claret and Blue, Houllier wants us playing beautiful football and if we hold our nerve and get some luck we'll have developed most of our first team allowing Houllier and Lerner to spend big on a select few players to compliment the naivety and exurberance of youth.


Sound like anyone? 


The lads have all signed new contracts, Lerner needs to keep his nerve and reject everything.


I propose we change our name to the Park Nou in preparation for the Glorious Champions League Campaigns to come.



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I remember watching a reserve game of Utd vs Villa and Bannan's performance was one of the most impressive i have ever seen at that sort of level. He was head and shoulders better than anything we had that match.
WC, nice to speak to you in another Forum!!

On Sunday I went to the youth team game at Villa park vs Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. I was hugely impressed with the majority of the team including the like of Johnson and Curruthers, someone was telling me the he left Arsenal to join us and they had been VERY upset to loose him. These guy are without a doubt great players in the making.

I would also like to throw another name into the mix, Ebby Nelson-Addy, This was the first time I had seen him play! To me he looked sharp, a box to box midfielder of the in the DM role. He broke up the oppersition and stated attacks well. I was very impressed with him, I would go as far as saying that for me he out shone Johnson!!

Proud History, Bright Future

Looking good WC looking good.

Is it a given that Young is leaving?  I thought he was excellent against us played upfront, even though we won that game.

Seeing as villa sell their best players to their rivals and the chairman keeps the loot,I think the naivity is at the ops door 
I would be very surprised if young stays, he is a great player for Villa but it is rumoured he has been house hunting in London and you could see the vultures of Dalglish and Ferguson  circling at the Bolton game last week

All we need now is a better looking kit.... Something like this will do


 Been my favourite for years!!!

Wasn't both Albrighton and CLark given their debuts by Kevin MacDonald...?  Also, do you really think Houllier's had any impact on the youth setup in just five months...?


Gerard Houllier destroyed the youth setup at Liverpool.  Hence hardly any youth players breaking through in the last few years, Rafa had to rebuild the acedamy!


I like villa and it is good that you are giving youngsters a chance, but to credit houllier and dismiss MON so arrogantly is wrong!

Gerrez Carrard or Suarrol

Clark was given his debut by MoN.

Albrightons league debut was I believe KMac.

I am not silly enough to proclaim Houllier is the one that has made the difference.

Full credit for our youth set up goes to Kevin MacDonald and Gordon Cowans,

The difference I hope Houllier will make is integrating these young players in the team.

I am not dismissing MoN and I am not being arrogant about it either. MoN was a motivator of men, he liked players he could easily manipulate. His transfer policy on the whole was also players for now, take away Delph and Young and the rest of his purchases where designed to fit directly in to the team. He actually said him self he "would only consider players with Premier League experience". It was a closed shop policy that meant every season he needed to invest in 4 or 5 players, where as perhaps he should have been investing similar amounts in 2 or 3 players of quality and of an age where they would improve.

I appreciate MoN did good things for Villa but it was always going to be short term success. MoN sold Cahill because he refused to rotate his team and give him some games. He would have sold Bannan this summer because (and I quote) he was "too small".

I would also add that Houllier has been working with the french association since liverpool.... developing young players. So i doubt he'll make the same mistake again, especially as Kevin MacDonald has a big sat still in how the reserve and youth teams are ran.

So I suggest you read my article again, the excitement is more because Houllier will give the youht a chance, which MoN proved over the 4 years that he wasn't willing to do so unless he was down to the bare bones. Houllier is also trying to teach a philosophy of football that doesn't involved just hoofing it forward and chasing it down.

Not once did I say that Houllier was suddenly responsible for the kids coming through.

Fair enough but from my experience of Houllier in charge of Liverpool, he wasn't one for giving youth a chance, well, unless they were from the french league of course.  Beyond Gerrard, Carragher and Owen (of which, only Gerrard made his debut under him), there very few others.  It would have been pretty hard for him to ignore those three too!  Maybe I am being harsh on Houllier, I just do not think he is the manager you appear to think he is.


Houllier will try to take the credit for anything positive and blame others for the negatives.  He likes the media to reflect on him only in a positive light and he reportedly punished players for anything other than this.  What other manager would try and take credit for a Champions League win when no longer at a club...?


I actually think MON's transfer policy was good for you guys, it was the next step that was the problem.  Buying players in the way he did got you into a position where you could attract better players, the transfer policy then needed to alter to suit.


I have no idea about comments MON has made about Villa's youth system.

MoN's transfer policy was good for at the start.. but after we'd finished 6 twice we had players asking for transfer to Villa. McCarthy at Wigan a prime example, anyone with half a football brain could see the lad is going to be a great little footballer. He wanted game, rejected Liverpool and United for this reason and basically pleaded with MoN to sign him. We didn't. Why? No Premier League experience.


£7m on Warnock... really there wasn't a better player on the continent? £6m for L.Young after refusing a £2m deal the summer previous? Sidwell on £50k a week? Also his policy of picking the same team irespective for form, fixtures or results results ended up with burn out 3/4 in to the season and certain players becoming far to comfortable in their positions.


MoN has great points but people who believe he is some kind of genius manager will be disappointed if he takes over their team. Celtic fans wouldn't have him back. His tactics are the same for every match and they aren't exactly difficult. He is a manager from another era and if he get in at United I would give him 18 months before fans get fustrated with his "style" of management.



I think most Premier League clubs will have to move forward in this way - promoting the best young players will become essential.


I really like the look of some of your young players at Aston Villa, but I think it would be more polite to suggest you may well be just a little over enthusiastic about your claims...



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