As expected, after playing so recently in the Peace Cup, it was just kids that were sent down to Oxford to play the conference side at the Kassam Stadium. I listened to the commentary on BBC Radio Oxford and I could hear the 700 odd Villa fans in good voice. I was also treated to the dolcid tones of Jack Woodward in the background, at one point comparing the pitch to a snooker table which left the radio guys in stitches. Jack’s always good value.
The youngsters seemed to start brightly enough, forcing the Oxford keeper into what sounded like an amazing double save. Besides another chance or two early on, Oxford seemed to deserve their 2-0 at half-time. The second half seemed a fairly even affair aside from an over zealous tackle on Gary Gardner which required a stretcher, but he was well enough to walk later.
With the likes of Parish, Lowry, Herd, Collins & McGurk on the pitch I was surprised that the Young Lions were not more competitive, but it was probably still a useful experience for them. 4,300 is possibly one of the bigger crowds the team have had opportunity to play in front of and, yes, sadly that includes those that played in the Peace Cup!!
I can understand why the England Under-21 trio weren’t included, but there’s now only one scheduled pre-season friendly left for them before the new Premiership season starts. Then again, it should just be a case of match fitness, it’s not like they have a handful of new team mates to adapt to. Yet.
However, there is at least one new face around Bodymoor that they will have to get used to playing with. Fabian Delph might only be 19 years old and relatively inexperienced, but you don’t spend that kind of transfer fee on a player to slot into the reserves for any significant period of time. Even in the Premiership.
There’s obvious similarities between this acquisition and signing Ashley Young. Aston Villa are undeniably a stronger side two and a half years later, but Ash was brought straight into the first team and I would be surprised if Fabian didn’t play some part in Saturday’s friendly against Fiorentina. By the way, although we lost, Ash scored on his debut in Newcastle. Just saying.
Delph was given a tour of Bodymoor and Villa Park today and it’s fair to say that the lad is impressed and happy to to be here:-
I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a big step up but I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can do well.
I’ve managed to get the move here and I’m going to work my hardest and hopefully the gaffer will give me the opportunity to play.
There are a lot of young English players here, an absolutely superb manager and this is the club I’ve chose to play for so hopefully I can do well.
I’ve been to look at the ground and it’s absolutely unreal. It’s mind blowing. If I get the chance to play in it and do well I’ll be really chuffed with myself.
Alright, it’s a bit repetitive and clichéd, but he’s a 19 year old pro-footballer, not an after dinner speaker. He seems committed and determined enough, but I wouldn’t expect anything else from a MON signing.
Ken Bates has divulged some more details of the deal and it wasn’t quite as simple as it first appeared. According to Mr. Bates, a fee had been agreed with Citeh, but they wanted a week to think about it and old Ken wasn’t happy with that so he came back to see if Villa were still interested. Whatever. The main thing is that we got our man despite interest from the likes of Citeh, Everton and Spurs and we went about it the right way.
I hope Fabian will live up to the not unconsiderable hype and it doesn’t put too much pressure on him. It’s worth keeping in mind that he’s currently banned from driving, so moving clubs and acclimatising to a new life will be all the more challenging. He seems like an exciting prospect, but we should remember he’s young and give him time to settle.
Welcome to Aston Villa, Fabian.