Villains eye bright new era

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Villains eye bright new era

A year ago it had more of the same for the Scotland international, whose status as one of the highest earners at Villa Park had, in the eyes of an owner trying to bring down costs, made him unpickable.

Then the idea persisted to try and move Hutton on. But two years on from his last Villa appearance, the stance has changed, with Randy Lerner, who has put the club up for sale, wanting all his players available to manager Paul Lambert.

So, for the first time Lambert selected the 29-year-old at right-back, as well as bringing striker Darren Bent back into the fold and restoring Shay Given, another whose pay scale had led to his omission last season, to his match-day squad.

On the bench, instead of Given, in a coaching capacity was Roy Keane, Villa’s new assistant manager, who helped oversee a highly-efficient victory in which Hutton impressed in a back four whose clean sheet brought to an end a run of six successive away defeats which brought about the threat of relegation at the end of last season.

“No, to be honest I didn’t see this happening,” admitted Hutton, who had been out on loan to Nottingham Forest, Mallorca and Bolton.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business also. You need to respect the decisions which come from high above. It’s one of those things. It’s football and it happens. You can only keep your head down and keep working and hopefully the chance comes and you can take it.

“I was always in contact with the manager all the way through, even when I wasn’t playing. There was never anything bad between us. It was just a situation we were in and there was nothing we could do about it.

“We had a good chat towards the end of last season and he said I would be involved at the start of this season. I was obviously happy. I came back, had a full pre-season and was ready to go.

“It’s a clean slate for everybody. Everybody is being given a go and has worked really hard over the pre-season, and overall we deserved that.”

With former Arsenal centre-back Philippe Senderos and ex-Fulham, Sunderland and Manchester United forward Kieran Richardson making impressive debuts, Villa were able to call on the kind of experience that was not utilised for much of last season.

Charles N’Zogbia was also back after a year’s absence to add to an attacking threat which was invariably used on the counter after drawing Stoke’s pretty feeble sting.

Stoke had finished ninth last season — their highest placing since 1975 — and with three new signings of their own starting, they would have hoped for better.

Bojan Krkic, once Barcelona’s youngster ever player and an apparent star of the future, made his debut and the little forward, still only 23, showed early glimpses that he may bring an extra degree of subtlety to a Stoke side evolving under Mark Hughes.

“I think Bojan played well. There are a few things he has to learn, but that’s normal. When you come into the Premier League it’s different, but he will get there,” said Stoke defender Erik Pieters.

“He is a clever player who will create chances and he can be a really big player for us. Every day he will learn and I believe in him.”

Krkic almost scored just before half-time when he followed up a shot from Phil Bardsley which goalkeeper Brad Guzan could only parry. But Senderos snuffed out the danger and Stoke rarely threatened again.

Villa had already created the best chance when Richardson nipped in to take the ball away from goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and crossed only for Gabriel Agbonlahor to side-foot wide of a near open goal.

But Villa’s efforts were rewarded when Andreas Weimann scored the winner five minutes into the second half, making the most of weak Stoke defending to retrieve the ball and fire low across Begovic into the far corner.

“Today was a wake-up call that in the long run we’ll probably be grateful for,” claimed a disappointed Hughes.

STOKE CITY: Begovic 5; Bardsley 7, Shawcross 6, Wilson 6, Pieters 5; Whelan 6 (Adam 82mins), Nzonzi 7 Ireland 5; Bojan 6, Arnautovic 5, Diouf 5 (Crouch 70mins, 7).

ASTON VILLA: Guzan 6; Hutton 8, Vlaar 8, Senderos 8, Cissokho 7; Westwood 7, Delph 7; N’Zogbia 7 (Grealish 70mins, 7), Weimann 7 (Bacuna 82), Richardson 8; Agbonlahor 7.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Grealish must resist ‘fancy cars and cash’ lifestyle

By Robin Edwards

Republic of Ireland U21 international winger Jack Grealish has been bluntly warned not to be distracted by “the stupidness of fancy cars and lots of money”.

Grealish, 18, impressed, with a cameo off the bench in the final 19 minutes of Aston Villa’s 1-0 win at Stoke City. It was only his second Premier League appearance and Villa manager Paul Lambert has told him to make sure he doesn’t get carried away by the riches on offer to Premier League players.

Lambert said: “Jack Grealish came on at 18 years old and didn’t look out of place.

“He has a massive future in the game if he keeps his feet on the ground.

“He has got a real chance if he does the right things and doesn’t get into the world of stupidness of fancy cars and lots of money at an early age.

“If he keeps his feet on the ground, he has a massive future in the game. I had no worries about throwing him on. He can handle it.”

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