PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 23: Jermain Defoe celebrates with James Milner after scoring against Algeria, while Gareth Barry looks poised to bite James on the neck to complete his transformation. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Villans, our star is shining brightly on the world stage. James Milner put forth a stunning performance against Slovenia on Wednesday, consistently threatening defenders and swinging a great cross to Jermaine Defoe that provided the match's only goal.
Selfish Aston Villa fans likely hoped to see more of the James that we saw during game against the USA, when Milner earned a yellow and was substituted thirty minutes into the match. But Milner's disappointing play in the first match resulted from a virus he'd picked up the week before rather than the typical jitters seen by those in their first start in the World Cup. Against Algeria he was on fire, proving that he really is on his way to being a world class player.
So what of the Villa, then? Should we expect to see James back at Villa Park for more than two matches next season? Randy Lerner and Martin O'Neill have reassured us repeatedly that they're hanging on to Milner, but with near-daily rumors floating around about Manchester City's interest, it's tough to remain confident about him staying--especially with the wads of money that they will likely wave under our noses.
After the Algeria game, Milner is almost a lock to start against Germany. Should he continue to impress, his stock will rise, and it's likely we'll have other clubs inquiring, perhaps even waving more money. It's entirely possible that #8 shirts will be outdated next season. But don't let that keep you from cheering James on in the tournament. Even though the story today is about his gratefulness for David Beckham's influence, it was the season he had at Villa that really shaped him and made him able to start for England. Even if he leaves before the season starts, we should all have pride in our Villan.