There is nothing worse than being left hanging. (Image by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Welcome to the newly revised Friday Feedback. Instead of having all of our writers give quick responses to a weekly question, we'll have one writer give a response of any length they want to a weekly question posed by commenters or other writers. If you've got a question that you want answered in Friday Feedback, leave a comment, or send Robert an email (you can find his address at the bottom of the page by hovering over the envelope next to his name) and we'll try to get to it!
Firstly, thanks to those of you who sent in questions for me to answer this week. I've decided to tackle Keith Miller's question, since - as I wrote in the comments - I don't have all of the clues needed to properly gumshoe the case of the missing pies and since the only answer to "Alan Hutton: Why?" is "because God hates us despite the evidence (i.e. beer) to the contrary." [Ed. note: sorry George Templeton, I had already written this before I saw your question. My short answer: I think he splashes some cash (though not Darren Bent levels), and I have no idea towards what it would go. Hopefully a central midfielder of some sort.] So here we go!
This week's question: When will N'Zogbia play 90 minutes?
First, I assume we're not counting the 90 he played against Blackburn, correct? Well in that case, let's get to some background. Charles N'Zogbia came to Villa with a lot of fanfare. I was devastated to see Stewart Downing leave this summer (though I am getting over that. Got myself a long-sleeve no-name kit from last year so I wouldn't have to wear one with that twunt's name on it all the time), but the addition of N'Zogbia as our new left-winger seemed to me to be a decent compromise.
I didn't quite think he was as good as Stewie, but I will freely admit that it may have been hopeless bias that didn't let me think otherwise. But there is no doubt that N'Zogbia is a fantastic player. His four goals in the last four matches (and five in the last six) are one of the primary reasons that Wigan Athletic are still in the Premiership this year and not plying their trade in the Championship. There is talent there, and when unleashed, it can be something special to behold.
Yet his performances this year have left something to be desired. He's played an average of 72 minutes per match, and has yet to tally so much as a goal or an assist. Yet to the eye, he's been a better player than Stiliyan Petrov or Emile Heskey. So why isn't he getting the full 90, and when will he?
Well, I think part of the problem is that Alex McLeish has been playing him on the right side. Unlike Stewart Downing, who could make the switch relatively well, N'Zogbia's play just doesn't seem suited to being on the right. I know that most everyone who reads this site wants to see him in a full match, but if we're honest about it, he hasn't looked very good yet. I'm willing to believe that most of the reason is playing on the right, but it doesn't change things. In the system that Alex McLeish has set up, N'Zogbia has to get his minutes in on that side of the pitch, and he hasn't played so well as to be un-substitutable. Marc Albrighton, for whom N'zogbia has been substituted twice, has nearly always looked better when he's gotten minutes this season.
But, there's a reason so many of us want to see Blazing Roaches get the minutes. It's because he is really a good player. Hopefully Alex McLeish comes to the realization (perhaps with Heskey out and possible formation changes coming) that it would be better for everyone involved to put the winger back on his natural side.
Even barring this development, I wouldn't be surprised to see N'Zogbia get his 90 on Saturday or Tuesday. Emile Heskey is out, Darren Bent looked to be totally unfit, and some other players have had injury troubles. Unless N'Zogbia plays terribly, I have to imagine that Alex McLeish will save his subs for positions at which there might be a more crucial need of depth.
That's it for this week. Be sure to leave your answers to the question below, and let me know if you've got questions for whoever ends up writing this next week. Otherwise, they're at my mercy!