N'Zogbia exclusive: I'm aiming for a Perfect 10
If Charles N'Zogbia could turn back the clock, he would happily rewind 12 months - and do things completely differently.
This time last year, the 26-year-old French defender was embarking on an exciting career with Villa following a high-profile transfer from Wigan Athletic.
Unfortunately things didn't turn out as planned, and his debut season in claret and blue was largely disappointing as Villa struggled in the lower reaches of the Barclays Premier League.
But he is determined it will be different this time around.
Rather than striving to impress, he will simply do his own thing.
"When I came here I tried to offer something different because I felt I was joining a bigger club with big-name players," he says.
"Maybe I tried too hard, but it just wasn't working.
"Now I'm determined to just be myself. I think I will benefit - and hopefully the team will as well.
"My strength is to be on the ball more often and go with it. That's what I'm aiming to do this season and I know I will be better for it."
Despite his difficult first season, N'Zobgia has no regrets about leaving the DW Stadium and heading for Villa Park.
He is adamant, too, that his self-belief is as strong as ever.
"I've now been playing over here for eight years, so I know what to do," he says.
"I know what I'm capable of, and my focus is always to win games. Joining Villa was a good move for me. It was a difficult first season but I know I can work through that.
"I know the mistakes I made and I'm working on them. I know the other players much better now and that helps a lot."
In the midst of a series of setbacks, there were at least a few highlights for the talented playmaker during the course of 2011-12.
His first goal for the club, struck home firmly at the Holte End, earned a 2-2 draw with QPR after Villa had trailed 2-0.
And at Blackburn a few weeks later, his sublime control with his right foot before drilling the ball home with his left brought him a second goal which showcased his skill and predatory instincts in a split second.
But he intends to have more than two goals to his credit by the end of this season.
"It was nice to score against QPR, particularly at home," he says.
"It had been through a tough time and that goal helped a lot.
"But I scored 10 for Wigan the previous season and that has to be my target for Villa. If I can score 10 and get a few assists as well, I will be much happier with my game.
"I don't have a preference about where I play. I like to attack, whether I'm on the right the left or through the middle. As long as I'm on the pitch I'm always looking to score goals and win games. All I want to do is play all of the games - or at least most of them - and be happy."
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