The Liberty Stadium

Next Game

Swansea v A Villa

Saturday, 26 April 2014, 15:00

Barclays Prem

Villa Park

Last Game

A Villa 0 - 0 Southampton

Saturday, 19 April 2014, 15:00

Barclays Prem

Bennett this season's Villan

Aston Villa FanZoner Tom Davis reflects on what has been a difficult first season at the club for defender Joe Bennett.

Last Updated: 08/05/13 at 11:50 Post Comment

Joe Bennett: The culprit for Villa's defensive woes

Joe Bennett: The culprit for Villa's defensive woes

World Cup 2014

Check out the latest outright odds on next summer's World Cup in Brazil

There are some roles in football that never change. The striker at the tip of the triangle is there to score goals just as much as the goalkeeper down at the bottom is there to prevent them. Yet full-backs are a completely different animal.

From being the sturdy and reliable engine to track back and forth at the back, they now require the sort of qualities the number nine up-front can't even master in training. However, in a season where defensive errors have often been our downfall, one player has caused us more grief than joy - and isn't it time we put an end to this misery?

Bennett is obviously the culprit here. It's a telling sign of his ability that this piece was written before his error against Norwich and not after, as he has a mistake waiting in him for almost every game. If it wasn't for Gabriel Agbonlahor's goals we would have dropped two valuable points. It could have even been enough to see us drop down a league as a consequence.

But it wasn't just against Norwich that he let us down.

He has made a collection of mistakes time and time again. Lambert's philosophy has required full-backs with a burning ambition to attack, particularly given our lack of an orthodox out-and-out winger. Yet, and forgive me for sounding old fashioned here, when I see four defenders in the back-line the first thing I want them to do is defend - and Gordon Bennett, he simply does not know the meaning of the word!

You could point to full-backs all around the top European leagues and argue that the traditional number threes are a dying breed - Marcelo, Phillip Lahm and Ashley Cole being prime examples of what a modern-day full-back can bring to the table.

Take it down a notch and Matt Lowton's performances this season have nailed almost every desire you could want from a full-back down to a tee. Bennett could go a long way in learning from his style. But then again an attacking full-back is only a bonus if they can defend in the first place. If they can't do the latter then you have to raise questions on their inclusion in the squad. Unfortunately for Bennett, he falls into this category.

He can be infuriating at times. "Kick him! Punch him! Stand up...do something!" the crowd collectively screams as he offers the opposing winger enough time on the ball to stop and tie his shoe-laces twice over. For all his bright play surging forward, his demeanour is so fragile in defence you can almost feel him flaking away at the very sight of a quick pair of feet - or even a slow pair for that matter.

Lowton's stature isn't much greater, but his aggression and commitment to a challenge - not to mention his positional sense and decision making - already places him far further in the pecking order, despite coming from relatively similar backgrounds. He now has a real chance to build on this season and establish himself as an England international.

Bennett is a talented player when given freedom on the ball and you can't help but want him to succeed at the club. But as a full-back? It'll never work. In a defence that has conceded the third highest number of goals in the league this season, defensive reinforcements are surely a priority for us in the summer and the left-back position should be high on our list. He is simply not good enough and that is not a difficult assumption to make.

You could give him the benefit of the doubt and say at 23 he still has time to develop, but if a defender struggles to master the art of defending now then what hope does he have in the future? I can't help but feel he would be better off shaping his role towards becoming a wide-midfielder. With his sweet left-foot, direct runs and pin-point crossing ability he could easily emulate his fellow Middlesbrough graduate, Stewart Downing. Oh wait, Stewart who? Forget you heard that name!

By Tom Davis, FanZone's Aston Villa blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @tomdav1991 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

World Cup 2014

Check out the latest outright odds on next summer's World Cup in Brazil

Related News

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Mike_Christie
Please Stop Telling Us What To Think

H

ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

TheWhiz
Wenger hails important win

I

s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

redbornandbred
De Gea's Europa League target

Footer 365

Premier League: Steven Gerrard hopes 'phenomenal' Brendan Rodgers enjoys long Liverpool reign

Captain Steven Gerrard has hailed Brendan Rodgers as "phenomenal" and hopes the manager can build a legacy at Liverpool.

World Cup 2014: Jack Wilshere in good shape for England, says Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is confident England midfielder Jack Wilshere will be in good shape for the World Cup.

Premier League: Chelsea's Jose Mourinho 'congratulates' officials after loss to Sunderland

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho fired a thinly-veiled criticism at the officials after the 2-1 home defeat to Sunderland.

Mail Box

Kieran's Not The Only One Keeping Notes

Another chap in the mailbox has been keeping notes on comments made by optimistic Man United fans. Plus, Garey Vance is offering a double-or-quits on his new tattoo...

Mignolet Is The Reason For Liverpool Flying

Mignolet's bad kicking is the reason for Liverpool's success, whilst one man keep notes on F365 mails. Plus England excitement, Arteta and a bad Walsall experience...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property