Let's not beat around the bush, the way Trézéguet dramatically threw himself to the floor this past Sunday was not only embarrassing for himself but for Aston Villa football club and all of us lucky enough to call ourselves supporters. When chasing a game we should never be losing, the last thing any of us want to see is our returning winger doing his best Neo from the Matrix impression instead of trying to create a genuine chance in the dying embers of the game.
A fitting punishment?
Yes I realise the game was three days ago now and it would be a lot easier to just bury this one away and pretend it never happened. Hell, maybe I'm over exaggerating the entire issue. On the other hand, I believe it would be unfair of me not to call out one of our own players over something I continuously point the finger at when it happens elsewhere. Although this blatant cheating mentality we see all over the supposed beautiful game is always called out and rightfully made fun of all over social media, we rarely ever see these actions get punished by the leagues or clubs. I tell you what, I'd be dead proud of my club if Aston Villa and/or Steven Gerrard made an example out of Trézéguet with some sort of appropriate punishment. Not only would it send the correct message to the rest of the squad (especially the younger players) but it would also make Trézéguet and other players of a similar mindset think before doing something this humiliating again. I mean you'd think play acting in front of a stadium full of supporters and a live audience of millions on a Super Sunday would be enough to make him think twice but I digress.
I don't want to go in two footed just on Trézéguet here because he's not the only player in a Villa shirt to make a tit of himself like this. Now Jack Grealish has departed it's easier than ever to admit that yes, he dived sometimes and yes, he too should have been called out and punished on one or two occasions. None of us were in denial during Jack's time at the club however we did see the difference between drawing a foul with gamesmanship which was the case 95% of the time and outright cheating in dramatic fashion. I guess what I'm trying to say is I would have no problem if Trézéguet had felt a touch and gone down (without acting like he'd been shot) because we see that throughout the game, and whether we like it or not, it's here to stay so we might as well use it the same way others do. What happened on Sunday though I would never want to see again. However if this goes unpunished I fear we will.
What's next for Trézéguet?
I want to try end on a positive as it's quite rare I go in this harsh on one player. I for one am not calling for Trézéguet to be shipped off after Sunday and I would be remiss if I didn't bring up all the joy our Egyptian king of the back post has brought us over the past couple of seasons. Make absolutely no mistake, without his two goals against Crystal Palace and the winner against Arsenal during project restart, we would very likely be playing Championship football once again, and let's not forget the moment he sent Villa Park in pure pandemonium in the 19/20 League Cup Semi-Final. Trézéguet's effort every time he steps onto the pitch is rarely questioned and for good reason. He clearly cares and obviously wants to do well for himself and the club. Also the passion and determination to come back from an injury as bad as his says everything we need to know about his character. For that reason I'd love to see him given a chance under Gerrard but will that realistically happen?
It goes without saying that the biggest hurdle is Trézéguet's natural position as an out and out winger and how he fits into Gerrard's system which is more narrow using two number 10's. We already saw Bertrand Traore struggle to work in this formation this past weekend and I'd be surprised if it's a different story for Trézéguet. This is of course an issue all over the squad as Dean Smith was clearly a fan of the traditional winger and players including Trézéguet, Bertrand, El Ghazi and Leon Bailey are all examples of players who may need to tweak their style or move on.. Out of those players listed it's obvious that we'd want to hang onto Bailey so it's down to the others to show Steven Gerrard and the coaching team why they deserve a place in this new look squad, especially during the January transfer window.
As we all know Trézéguet is now away on international duty with Egypt alongside Mohammed Salah for the African Cup of Nations meaning he will hopefully get some game time away from Villa Park before any decision on his future is made. Fingers crossed he shows enough during this period and on his return to find a place in the new look Aston Villa but only time will tell.
I fully stick by what I said at the beginning of this article that Trézéguet and any other player who embarrasses the club with blatant cheating should be punished appropriately. In fairness this may have already happened in private but given the public nature of it I think it's only fair the fans be told. However I don't think it means we should all turn our backs on a player who has done a lot for Aston Villa Football Club and one more chance under the new manager is the least he's earned. How that plays out is yet to be seen but I think we can all agree we'd love to see less theatrics and more back post winners.