Villa Noise: Email for Vlaar, Benteke dropped and Cascarino Royale
Paul Brown looks at quirky B6 stories.
15th Mar 2013
Villa Noise: Email for Vlaar, Benteke dropped and Cascarino Royale

Paul Lambert admits he can come across as quite a dour character when the cameras are on him in his pre and post-match press conferences.

But he was in jovial mood on the eve of the QPR clash, adding in a bit of comedy to his usual serious series of answers to teasing posers.

Asked about what he made of the potential battle between Christian Benteke and Chris Samba on Saturday, the boss joked: "But I've dropped Benteke."

Later on, he was quizzed about how he handles leaving players out of games, like he did with Barry Bannan earlier in the season.

He added: "I don't listen to him. I just lock my door."

While other managers appear stressed as the basement battle hots up, Lambert is showing no signs of anxiety, mixing in his comedic replies with an air of positivity in his other answers.

Not surprising when you consider the high levels he's been used to as a player at Celtic and Borussia Dortmund. Bodes well for now - and the future.

Good to speak to Villa Ladies ace Tash Merritt earlier this week, with the midfielder telling me about her role as a defensive midfielder in the team.

I launched the article, featuring her considered thoughts, on the official website, under a headline: "I'm ready for enforcer role."

Tash was very happy with the positive piece until she arrived for training the next day.

There she was greeted by pals, who shouted over: "Here she comes. The Enforcer."

Cue plenty of giggles as the ladies geared up for their huge FA Cup clash with Liverpool on Sunday.

Let's hope The Enforcer is on top form!


Rob Bishop is a treasure in the marketing and communications department.

The 63-year-old has been in the journalism business for a good many years, working for the Birmingham Post, Express & Star and Sports Argus to name but three popular publications.

Rob works as hard as anyone but granted himself an evening away from his new Blackberry as he treated his wife Norma to a marvellous meal on Wednesday night, fresh from emailing Ron Vlaar his captain's column for inspection.

Rob was horrified to spot two missed calls - an hour apart - from Ron when he returned from a dinner of calf's liver at just past 9pm.

Fearing the worst, he rang Ron back in a flap, only to be told rather jovially: "Hi Rob. You forgot to attach the document."

Needless to say the article was approved by 'Concrete' an hour later, once it had been soundly checked by the captain.

But not before, as you can see in the picture above, Ron screamed: "Roooooooooooooob!"

Mark Lawrenson has called Villa v QPR "the game of the weekend."

Lawrenson predicts the score for the BBC Sport website each week.

The former Liverpool defender thinks it will be 1-1 between the sides of Paul Lambert and Harry Redknapp.

He said: "Both of these sides had good wins last week and they will be looking to keep up that momentum heading into the international break.

"I looked at QPR's win over Sunderland for Match of the Day and Rangers manager Harry Redknapp was very bold. His side scored two top-quality goals too, which is something they have not done too often over the course of the season.

"It's probably bigger for Rangers that they win this game, given that Villa are four points above them.

"From Villa's point of view is a more of a 'must not lose' than the 'must win' game that it is for QPR.

"Villa have put in performances like the one they produced to see off Reading before. Then, the following week, they make a load of mistakes.

"They always look vulnerable at the back to me and they are a team that will always ship goals.

"But I am going to go for a draw here and both teams would probably take it. A point keeps Rangers ticking over and Villa will just be happy not to lose to a team which is below them."

One quote I deeply disagree with is: "I think the difference will be that QPR's players will be in the dressing room beforehand thinking that they can beat Villa. I'm not convinced Villa's players will be thinking the same about QPR."

I'm confident the claret and blue boys will prove him wrong.


Christian Benteke's influence at Villa has been hailed by Match of the Day magazine.

In a feature entitled "goalscorers who make all the difference", Benteke was lauded as No.1 in the Barclays Premier League, ahead of Luis Suarez and Michu in No.2 and No.3 respectively.

They said: "Without Benteke's goals, Villa would be six points adrift at the bottom of the table and ten points from safety.

"He's scored eleven of Villa's twenty-six goals to give the club a chance of avoiding the drop. Boss Paul Lambert is lucky he's got the big man."

True that Lambert will be thrilled with the impact of Benteke but the feature fails to point out that if you take away the goals of any team's top scorer, you severely handicap their potency and alter their league position.

How about Tottenham without the brilliance of Gareth Bale?

Nice to see West Brom boss Steve Clarke bigging up the performances of Christian Benteke for Villa this season.

Clarke believes Benteke should be a candidate, alongside his own Romelu Lukaku, for Player of the Season.

The praise for Benteke is well deserved and not surprising given that Clarke and Benteke are neighbours!

Andy Townsend had no problem about celebrating with his team-mates whenever Villa scored, but he clearly isn't keen on embracing fellow commentators.

Townsend, Villa's 1996 League Cup-winning captain, is these days better known for his commentaries on ITV.

During Barcelona's Champions League victory over AC Milan on Tuesday, he informed viewers: "There's a Spanish commentator standing about three feet away. After Barca scored their second goal I swear he wanted to plant a kiss on me. I'm moving as far away as possible!"

Andreas Weimann has been selected as the "One to Watch" in the Villa v QPR game.

In a detailed preview in Shoot magazine on the eve of the match, Weimann was lauded as the striker who could make the difference.

They said: "It was this time last year that Weimann burst on to the scene with bags of energy to help fire Villa out of danger.

"The Austrian runs all day and his chemistry with Christian Benteke is Villa's formula for dodging the drop again."

Under 'Villa's tactics against QPR', they added: "Villa's speedy forwards out wide will attack QPR's full-backs, creating chances for Benteke in the middle."

#AVFCFilmFriday proved popular once again this week as fans were asked to give the movies of Daniel Craig a claret and blue flavour.

The best ones are below.








DVDBig debate in the corridors of Villa Park this week about the best goal of Villa's 1,000 in the Premier League.

The awesome total was reached at the weekend when Christian Benteke bagged the equaliser at Reading.

My personal favourite is Dwight Yorke's chipped penalty against Arsenal, which left David Seaman rooted to the spot - and smirking at the striker's impudence.

What's your favourite? Why don't you let me know.

You can check them all out at the end of the month with a cracking double-disc DVD.

The must-viewing will journey through each and every goal scored by Villa in the top-flight.

All your favourite players are here, from Dean Saunders and Dwight Yorke, through Dion Dublin and Juan Pablo Angel, right up to the predatory instincts of Gabby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke.

Whether they be tap-ins from two yards, own-goals or Der Hammer's wonder strikes from 30 yards, they're all available.

'Aston Villa 1000 Premier League Goals' will be available at £16 plus £2.95 P&P.

It's available from the Villa Village Store at Villa Park and our New Street City Centre Store from Saturday March 30.

paul brown, blogs,
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