Going into the game today against Liverpool, a lot has been said about it being the return of Christian Benteke to Villa Park. He was, probably, the one player that kept Aston Villa in the Premier League over the last two seasons but it’s strange that the other former Villa player due to appear seems to have been forgotten.
Apart from both playing for Liverpool, James Milner has one other thing in common with Christian Benteke. When they left Villa Park they both went for then record fees – Milner for £26.0m and Benteke for £32.5m. After leaving Villa to go to Manchester City he was part of a team that won two Premier Leagues, the FA Cup and the League Cup so the move did work out for him in respect of winning honours in the game.
It’s hard to believe that Milner will add many honours now in a Liverpool team that, most people of a certain age will agree, is not a patch on the team that ruled English football from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s.
So, what reception will both players get today? There appears to be a mixed opinion amongst the Villa faithful but from me they will both get applause. Milner was a player I admired from his days at Leeds United and was really pleased when we signed him permanently in 2008 two years after his season on loan. Benteke? Well he’s just a goal machine and he used to give so much pleasure when he powered through on goal – but when somebody offers that kind of money for a player these days you have to seriously consider taking it (though I would have thought it would have been nice to have actually invested it wisely!).
Both players were great servants for the club and only signing for Small Heath would ever ruin that for me (and let’s face it, that’s not exactly likely is it?).