Villa Noise: Chatty Benteke on Twitter and Petrov pulls faces
10th May 2013
There have been many phoney accounts created on the social media site but now the big Belgian has started one himself - called @BentekeChris20.
He'll be verified in due course, perhaps in the next few days, but he found a clever way of proving his identity in the meantime.
Standing tall [he's 6ft 5in after all] at Bodymoor Heath, he was snapped for his profile picture holding up a sign reading: "This is my real account, follow me please."
He has already been tweeting fairly regularly since set-up at the start of the week, with one entry warming the claret and blue cockles.
As shown below, it features an image of Benteke alongside fellow goal ace Peter Withe - taken at the awards dinner - and reads: "It's an honour to have the encouragement of this legend - Mr Withe!"
Benteke also delighted guests at the awards dinner when he pulled out a pre-prepared speech from his tux jacket pocket on winning the young player gong.
His English was impeccable as he thanked supporters, players and management staff after his highly-successful first season in the Barclays Premier League.
Christian Benteke was voted the fourth best signing of 2012-13 this week by the Daily Mail.
He finished in illustrious company, just behind No.1 Michu, No.2 Robin van Persie and No.3 Jan Vertonghen but ahead of No.5 Romelu Lukaku, No.6 Matija Nastasic, No.7 Santi Cazorla, No.8 Arouna Kone, No.9 Steven Fletcher and No.10 Mo Diame.
On Benteke, they said: "The best strikers will score when the team is backed into a corner. With Villa staring relegation in the eyes, Benteke came out kicking.
"Another wonderful talent to come out of Belgium, the 22-year-old has taken it upon his broad, young shoulders to carry Villa back from the brink of relegation.
"Back in March, he scored crucial goals on consecutive weekends against Reading and QPR then netted in the win at Stoke.
"Most memorably, he then scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Sunderland. Benteke obviously doesn't like the look of the Championship.
"They will prove to be priceless goals for the club."
Ashley Westwood may not have picked up any awards at the end-of-season dinner but he received plaudits aplenty this week.
First, legend Ian Taylor hailed his impact in the team after coming up from League Two - a massive step up in the eyes of the former star midfielder.
Second, respected talkSPORT host and Daily Mail columnist Adrian Durham praised his low-key personality and possession football.
He wrote: "With 90 minutes nearly up on Saturday afternoon, Ashley Westwood latched on to a loose ball in the middle of the park, instantly threaded a perfectly-placed and weighted pass into the path of Gabriel Agbonlahor and the striker slotted home the winner for Aston Villa in a crucial game at the bottom of the table.
"Westwood is a special talent. When he moved to Villa for just £1.5m last summer he confidently, rather than cockily, described himself: 'I see myself as a Michael Carrick-type of player, someone who stays out of the limelight and keeps it simple, retaining the ball and laying it off to team-mates.'
"His description is spot-on. Calm in possession but creative as well. He's been one of the key players in Villa's recent run of five wins in eight that has seen them now hit 40 points and double the total they had at the start of February.
"Westwood went from boy to man at Crewe and has gone from League Two to Premier League seamlessly. He looks a natural.
"Crewe have clearly furnished him with a calm head, and so much time and ease on the ball that he is a joy to watch. That through ball to Agbonlahor was one of the passes of the season, especially when you bear in mind what it means to Villa.
"At 23, he could go on to be as good as Carrick, and even win the medals Carrick has won (Carrick didn't win anything until he was 25).
"I just hope Roy Hodgson doesn't do what failing previous managers did with Carrick over the past 10 years - ignore a midfielder who can keep the ball. It's what England have needed for years."
It was a really sad moment to learn this week of the retirement of skipper Stan Petrov.
But the good news is he's alive and looking forward to his future away from football with renewed vigour.
I was also greatly amused after talking to club photographer Neville Williams about the antics of Petrov during the annual team photocall.
Williams told me that Petrov - every year without fail - would pull stupid faces to frustrate Williams behind the camera as well as amuse his playing pals.
Check below for a selection from 2010-11.
Amazing to watch BBC Football Focus this past week to discover that Paul Lambert wore a Villa kit as a kid.
Lambert's mum bought him the all-white European Cup kit of 1982 when he was a young lad growing up in Glasgow.
Somewhat fitting that he should end up managing the club.
Matt Lowton says he's still buzzing about his cracking strike against Stoke, which won Goal of the Season at the awards dinner this week.
He admits he was awestruck when the ball hit the back of the net but fair play to him for having the presence of mind not to jump into the crowd to celebrate.
He explains: "It is still the same buzz when you watch it back and see the reaction of the fans and the players.
"Christian is quite a laid back lad as you see, but he was the first one to me jumping on my back. That shows how crucial the goal was.
"Running down there towards the fans it took a lot not to jump in there and celebrate. I was on nine bookings so I couldn't."
So sorry to hear of the death this week of former Birmingham Mail journalistic giant Ian Willars.
Ian was one of the old-school of sports reporters who learned their trade in the days of tyrannical editors, Smith Corona typewriters and smoke-logged newsrooms.
By his own admission, he was a "bar-trained journalist", often picking up his best stories when tongues had been loosened by a few pints, the cost of which was later reclaimed on expenses.
The man they called The Duke did his best to adjust to the modern day concept of surfing the internet for information, but he seldom seemed comfortable with it.
He preferred to fill his notebook by going out and meeting people.
And if it happened to be in the local boozer, so much the better.
Ian constantly harked back to the good old days and during a trip to Manchester with our very own programme editor Rob Bishop early in 1988, he did his best to revive them.
It had snowed heavily overnight, so instead of driving to Villa's game against City, the pair decided it made more sense to take the train.
On arrival at Piccadilly Station, they took a taxi to a pub half a mile from the ground, where they had a bite to eat while Ian sank his first two pints of the day.
From there, they walked towards Maine Road, only for Bish's erstwhile colleague to suggest another detour when they came across another pub, which - judging by the two burly bouncers on the door - was clearly intended for home supporters only.
Getting past those guys was no great problem, but the same can't be said of getting a drink.
City fans were two or three deep at the bar and it must have been 20 minutes before they finally got there.
When they did, the barman informed everyone in earshot: "Sorry gents, we've no clean glasses."
This was no great hardship for Bish because he'd asked for a small whisky to warm him up on a bitterly cold afternoon, but he knew Ian would prefer a beer.
Like the old pro he was, he reacted instinctively to the news about the lack of glasses, picking up two 'empties' from the bar and simultaneously snapping his order: "Two bitters, please."
Now Bish didn't want another beer, and certainly not out of a glass one of the locals had been using.
"Ian," he reminded him, "mine's a Scotch."
"I know," he replied. "These are for me!"
"Not for the first time in their modern history, Manchester United are discovering that great tradition and a massive bank balance does not add up to the success they desperately crave."
Before you accuse Rob Bishop of taking leave of his senses he points out that those words were written 25 years ago.
Younger supporters may find this difficult to believe but United were having a lean time, having won just once in thirteen league games as well as being knocked out of the League Cup by Wimbledon.
So Bish, now programme editor of the Villa News & Record, was asked by his editor to get hold of Alex Ferguson and produce a feature about the Red Devils for the Sports Argus.
Can you imagine it happening now - a Birmingham-based reporter ringing Old Trafford and being granted an exclusive interview with United's manager?
But things were different in November 1988.
Fergie accepted Bish's call and they chatted about how his team simply couldn't buy a win, not even after bringing star striker Mark Hughes home from Barcelona for £1.5m - a massive fee at the time.
It certainly wasn't the easiest interview Bish had ever conducted.
Not because he was in awe of the great man - this was a long time before he was knighted - but because all his questions seemed to be negative ones.
"You can make all the excuses in the world, but it doesn't make any difference," he told Bish.
"The big problem is that towards the end of matches we have tended to show an anxiety. The players sense that the winning post is just up the street, but they can't get there quickly enough and start to make mistakes.
"We are trying to get through a bad period. It's bad enough when you go two games without winning, let alone seven."
Try to imagine those words coming from the mouth of Sir Alex Ferguson today. It simply wouldn't happen, would it?
Twelve months after that interview appeared under the headline Red Alert, United were in an even worse position and the word was that if they lost their third round FA Cup-tie at Nottingham Forest in January 1990, Ferguson would be sacked.
But a Mark Robbins winner at the City Ground dispelled that particular notion, United went on to win the Cup and since the advent of the Premier League their honours list is mind-boggling.
paul brown, blogs,
More from this bloggerAll blogs
Most popular blogs