It may have taken a while, but Aston Villa fans are finally starting to see the best of Fabian Delph.
In the midst of a controversial and stormy encounter with Chelsea, it was the former Leeds United midfielder that scored the goal which settled the contest.
The flick may have been slightly fortuitous but in his post-match interview, Delph claimed “we have been scoring goals like that all the time in training.” Probably not exactly like that though.
Nonetheless, the Chelsea winner was just the latest highlight in what is turning out to be a breakout season for the 24-year-old. Delph has shone in Paul Lambert’s young side this season. The midfielder has enjoyed his most successful season with the Villans, with twenty six appearances in the league and three goals already to his name.
The form of a player that had previously been forgotten at Villa Park has drawn praise from his manager. In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, Lambert spoke of how the midfielder had been “excellent” since he had arrived at Villa Park.
Having joined from Leeds United in 2009, it has taken five years for Delph to finally demonstrate the ability which prompted Martin O’Neill to shell out up to £8million on a player plying his trade in League One.
Fans of the Football League and the Football Manager series would have been fully aware of the midfielder’s potential.
Winner of the Football League Young Player of the Year in his final season at Elland Road, Delph recently admitted that he endured a “dreadful” start to his career at Villa Park.
The midfielder’s progress was halted by an anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2010. From there, numerous other medical complaints meant that Delph simply fell off of the radar for most footballing fans.
In his own words, the midfielder stated that it was “probably the worst injury you can get in football.”
Unfortunately for him, it came at a time when he was trying to settle in the Premier League. As the seasons passed and injuries continued to plague the midfielder, it looked more and more likely that Delph’s name would be added to the list of big money flops.
With O’Neill resigning whilst Delph was sidelined, it has been a long road back for the former Leeds United prospect. But under Paul Lambert, the midfielder clearly enjoys the confidence of his manager and has shone brightest in a team of young starlets.
Speaking after the victory over Chelsea, Lambert backed Delph to become a “top player” if he continues his current trajectory and maintains his work ethic. The midfielder clearly shares a similar respect for his manager, stating how he had finally “found the right balance with a manager that believes in me and wants to play me.”
The performance against Chelsea live on Sky Sports brought Delph’s form to the attention of the whole nation.nTwitter discussions largely focused upon whether he really meant that flick.
But some have raised the question of whether Delph deserves to be Roy Hodgson’s wildcard selection for the England squad this season.
In reality, the World Cup has come a season too soon for the Villa midfielder.
Delph himself admitted as much, saying in a recent interview “there seems to be a lot of quality midfield players that are English that are probably above me at the minute.”
But if the midfielder continues impressing for his club, it can’t be long before his country comes calling.
Although speculation over striker Christian Benteke usually dominates the headlines at Villa Park, Delph’s future at the club should be the most pressing concern for Villa fans. With his contract expiring in the summer of 2015, the club are in a vulnerable position should any of the Premier League’s elite make a move.
Although the player has previously spoken of a strong affinity for the club, it wouldn’t be the first time that a player made such comments before moving on to greener pastures.
For now though, Villa fans are finally seeing the best of a midfielder that after years in the footballing wilderness looked a certainty to be dismissed as a big money flop.