BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Villa manager Gerard Houllier looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park on December 11 2010 in Birmingham England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Finally, Aston Villa broke their run of terrible results. This is it, here we go! We've changed the storyline, get ready for a full frontal assault on the top half of the table. That's the story, right? Right? Wrong.
Sound the drama alarm!!!
DUNNE FACING VILLA AXE AFTER TRAINING GROUND BUST-UP
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ANOTHER VILLA STAR IN TRAINING GROUND ROW WITH HOULLIER
Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland, Habib Beye, and John Carew. These are Villa's drama queens? It would be a lot more worrying if they weren't so terrible. I've talked about this before, but the only thing I'm worried about is if and when Houllier turns on someone who's actually good. As long as Villa is a welcoming place for Young, Downing, and the kids, I could care less if Houllier calls out players that are underperforming and/or causing problems. The trouble is that Houllier has previous for hounding genuinely talented players past the breaking point. For evidence of that, just ask David Ginola (or his lawyer.)
The really worrying trend of all this is that Richard Dunne, who looked like a genius acquisition last year, seems to be turning into a fatter and less talented version of John Terry. According to the Mirror (so take this with the deserved grain of salt):
The defender clashed with McAllister last week during an eight-a-side game, resulting in the Irishman launching a massive tirade against Houllier's regime.
Villa are unlikely to be able to ship out Dunne in January as he has two-and-a-half years remaining on a £52,000-a-week salary.
In case any of you remember, one of the issues Randy Lerner had with Martin O'Neill is that he would sign players to ridiculous contracts. This is a pretty clear example of that. Given his form so far this season, Aston Villa will likely be Richard Dunne's last top-flight club (barring a move to the SPL, which is really stretching the term "top-flight.") Hopefully, the positive that can come out of all of this is that, in last weekend's Midlands derby, Houllier has now seen proof that a James Collins - Carlos Cuellar partnership is a reasonably solid option. So even if Richard Dunne eventually does straighten himself out, he now knows that his place in the starting eleven is far from assured. One can only hope that Dunne is able to motivate himself into his 2009-10 form, back when he wasn't a mistake waiting to happen.