The Irishman was recently named in the PFA Team Of The Year alongside Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen at centrehalf. Villa signed the defender at a bargain fee of £5m and now ahead of the weekend’s game between Manchester City and Aston Villa, Dunne could end up throwing a spanner in the works of his old club’s Champions League ambitions.
The game between the two sides earlier in the season at Villa Park finished 1-1 with Dunne scoring his first goal for Villa against City. The centreback infamously refused to celebrate opening his account for the Villans and as a result received a standing ovation from City fans as a mark of respect.
He is expected to get a very warm reception at Eastlands tomorrow, and manager Martin O’Neill has had this to say on Richard Dunne:
“Richard deserved the reception he got in the game at Villa Park. Manchester City would accept he was brilliant for them over eight or nine years. Richard Dunne was exceptional for Man City over a long period of time. He became an iconic figure. We are just delighted to have him, he has made an immediate impact coming here and he has been a really great signing. Richard was voted into the PFA team of the year, which was a great boost for him. He would have derived a great deal of benefit and confidence from that.”
However whilst Dunne has excelled at his new club this season, the same cannot be said for his replacements at Man City. Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott both arrived at the club this season for a combined total of £36m, yet neither have been able to replicant anywhere near the form and consistencey that Dunne had shown during his nine-year-spell at the club. Despite the pair’s undoubted quality they just don’t have the same commanding presence that Dunne had during his time at the club. When he was sold he was City captain, of which Toure has now taken over, but he just does not have the same leadership skills as Dunne.
Interestingly Aston Villa have kept 15 clean sheets this season which is the 3rd most in the Premiership, behind Man Utd, with Chelsea and Liverpool joint in 2nd. They have also only conceded 35 goals which also means that they have conceded the 4th fewest in the league and had they not shipped seven goals against Chelsea they would have conceded the joint fewest in the league along with Man Utd. Compare this to Man City who have 11 clean sheets making them joint 6th in the league with Spurs and Birmingham. City have also conceded 42 goals, which places them 13th on the table of most goals conceded.
From these statistics it’s no surprise that Man City are clearly missing Dunne’s ability at the back, whilst Aston Villa are thriving on it. Man City need to learn a lesson from this and not sell off their players too soon, especially long-serving ones that have given their all for the club over the years. Just because Toure and Lescott are bigger names doesn’t mean that they are better players.