Can Houllier Can Reignite Heskey Fire?
It is difficult to think of a more heavily criticised international forward in the modern era than Emile Heskey. Despite the importance placed on him by both Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello and the improved form at international level he was able to coax out of both Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, Heskey has long since been labelled as a flop and a striker who should be nowhere near the international team.
His retirement from international duty after the 2010 World Cup Finals means that his critics will indeed get their wish and Heskey will play no part of England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. At club level though, Heskey still has a major part to play as his experience is a key component of a Villa side which is full of young attacking startlets such as Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor and Martin Albrighton.
There have been times during Heskey’s career where he has almost been forgotten about before suddenly reinventing himself and reminding us just what he is capable off. During his time at Wigan, he was largely influential in helping establish the Lactics as a Barclays Premier League side, winning over a number of his doubters and earning an international recall. It was form he has sadly not carried into his Villa career, scoring just 6 goals in 46 games, but all Villa fans will be hoping his reunion with Gerhard Houllier can help the striker turn the corner.
Indeed, it was under Houllier that Heskey enjoyed his best ever season, notching 22 goals and forming a potent partnership with Michael Owen, a man who Villa will be strongly linked with come January. It may come as no surprise then that Emile gave one of his best performances in a Villa shirt as the ink was still drying on the French manager’s contract, with a match turning performance and goal in the Carling Cup victory over Blackburn.
Then, at Molineux on Sunday, as Villa tried their best to throw away the three points, Heskey rose majestically to bullet home an unstoppable header and give Villa three vital points over their rivals. It was a result which, despite the shaky start to the season in the aftermath of Martin O’Neill’s departure, has left Villa 5th in the table, just a point outside of the top four and with a head start on European rivals Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
It was a goal which reminded us just what Emile Heskey is capable of. Sadly, for whatever reason, it is a capability that has been maximised all too infrequently throughout his career, but those of a Claret and Blue persuasion will be hoping that Houllier is the man to help him unlock it on a more regular basis, because an on-form Emile Heskey may just well be exactly what Aston Villa Football Club needs.
Written by Colin Hill, a sports writer who blogs about .