Wednesday media watch [20.01.16]
The Sun: Rémi Garde avoided a fresh crisis as Villa scrambled to a late FA Cup win. The Villa Park faithful booed their team until Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gana netted in the final 15 minutes to settle this third round replay. Garde's men face Manchester City next.
Birmingham Mail: Four games without defeat. That's Aston Villa's longest unbeaten run for 14 months! And even though half of those were against League Two opposition, this sequence of results is actually worth celebrating. Let's not forget Villa have embarrassed themselves against lower league opposition on many occasions in recent years. Bradford, Leyton Orient, Sheffield United and Millwall have all seen off this struggling Premier League outfit and Wycombe Wanderers were almost the latest team to leave them red-faced. Thankfully, Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gana spared their blushes with late goals after the League Two side had once again made this former top-flight giant look very average.
Birmingham Mail: Rémi Garde was pleased to finally see off Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup but he had a stark warning for his players after insisting they must start to perform better. Villa were anxious and nervy in the opening hour of this replay but goals from Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gana finally got them over the line. At times the League Two opponents made Villa look poor and the home supporters reacted with boos and jeers as they vented their anger. Garde, who made nine changes, admitted that the side he sent out should have put in a better performance but when Wycombe ran out of steam, Villa were ready to pounce.
Birmingham Mail: Aston Villa are hoping to wrap up a loan deal to sign goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic from Hajduk Split. Reports in Croatia suggest that a £5million fee has been agreed and sources here in the Midlands reckon a deal could be pushed through soon. If Villa can agree personal terms with Kalinic in the coming days, he could become the first signing of Remi Garde's reign. The Times: Aston Villa responded strongly to simmering dissent at half-time from the Holte End to play with more purpose and precision, scoring through Ciaran Clark's header and Idrissa Gana's shot, to quell determined Sky Bet League Two opposition.
The Independent Online: Rémi Garde criticised his Aston Villa players for taking more than an hour to dominate a stoic Wycombe side, saving his most barbed comments for Jack Grealish. The Villa manager watched his team, consisting of nine changes from the Barclays Premier League draw against Leicester at the weekend, toil against the Sky Bet League Two promotion hopefuls in the FA Cup on Tuesday night before winning the third-round replay 2-0 courtesy of late goals. Wycombe had more than held their own against the much-changed, but still strong, Villa line-up and created the better chances before Ciaran Clark headed home with 15 minutes remaining. Substitute Idrissa Gana sealed a fourth-round home tie against Manchester City at the end of the month with a second goal in the final minute. Clark's opener came within two minutes of Grealish, fit again after a fortnight out with tonsillitis, being substituted. "You saw the game," said Garde. "Jack started and it was his first for quite a long time now, but I haven't seen exactly what I wanted to see from him tonight.
Daily Mail: Rémi Garde criticised his Aston Villa players for taking more than an hour to dominate a stoic Wycombe side, saving his most barbed comments for Jack Grealish. The Villa manager watched his team, consisting of nine changes from the Barclays Premier League draw against Leicester at the weekend, toil against the Sky Bet League Two promotion hopefuls in the FA Cup on Tuesday night before winning the third-round replay 2-0 courtesy of late goals. Wycombe had more than held their own against the much-changed, but still strong, Villa line-up and created the better chances before Ciaran Clark headed home with 15 minutes remaining.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Former England defender Ashley Cole has agreed terms with Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy after leaving Roma. Cole, 35, is free to join former England team-mate Steven Gerrard after his contract with the Italian club was terminated by mutual consent. The ex-Chelsea and Arsenal left-back joined the Serie A side in July 2014 and made 16 appearances.
Sky Sports: Jurgen Klopp says Christian Benteke does have a future at Liverpool, despite the striker starting as a substitute in three of the Reds' last four games. The former Borussia Dortmund manager admits Benteke has struggled to form a partnership with midfielder Roberto Firmino, who has been deployed as a forward in recent weeks. Benteke has started just two of Liverpool's last six Premier League games and Klopp has suggested he will remain in a substitute's role more often than not, until he can find a formation more suited to the Belgium international.
BBC Sport: Watford have signed Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon on a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee. The Romania international, 28, joined the Black Cats in 2014 and has made 18 appearances this season. Pantilimon has not played since a 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on 19 December and has fallen behind Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone in the pecking order. He spent three years at Manchester City before joining Sunderland.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.