U-Turn: Michael Bradley Loaned to Aston Villa

Junior: "I just went the other way....."

In a silly season, that just got sillier:

ESPN reporting–and uncle Jeff Bradley at ESPN offering congratulations–that Michael Bradley has been loaned through the end of the year to Aston Villa.

Bradley could slot in immediately in the central midfield I surmise. But then again, Gerard Houllier loves to stockpile midfielders and he just brought in Jamie Makoun.


We’ve reached to our contact at Aston Villa to see if we can get any word on this and whether we can get Junior for 10 minutes if it in fact goes through.

(Lesson learned on yesterday’s report–apologies to the TSG audience.)

54 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Peter S on 2011/01/29 at 7:16 AM

    “Bradley will slot in immediately in the central midfield”!? Alot better than Jean II Makoun, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stiliyan Petrov and Barry Bannan is he? Get real…


  2. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/01/29 at 7:36 AM

    No need to apologize. You had a source you believed in and went with it. The source was wrong. That happens. Its not like you were just guessing and reporting it as fact.


  3. Posted by Russ on 2011/01/29 at 8:21 AM

    Michael Bradley is currently trending in the US on twitter.


  4. Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/29 at 8:22 AM

    Seems the general consensus (on SBI & soccernet, e.g.) is that this is a much better move than Galatasary. I’d agree if he gets good playing time. But as Peter S pointed out, Villa looks pretty good in the center. Not sure I understand why Villa are going after him.



    • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/29 at 8:30 AM

      I agree John Henry. I think he’ll make the 18 consistently but I’m not sure he’ll play all that much unless someone is injured. Although Villa has been under-achieving this season, they’ve been playing good the last few games. Do they really need MB90??????


    • Posted by dth on 2011/01/29 at 8:59 AM

      I think he’ll be for PT. Bradley’s better than Reo-Coker and Petrov. Haven’t seen Makoun so won’t comment, and Bradley and Hogg/Bannan are different players so they shouldn’t be directly competing. Don’t know if he’ll be Holdenesque, but I see no reason why Bradley can’t seize a starting role by the middle of his loan.

      Houiller doesn’t bring Bradley in if he doesn’t want him.


      • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/29 at 10:51 AM

        With regard to Bradley being better than Reo-Coker and Petrov, I hope you’re right dth. Objectively, I’m not so sure. Petrov and Reo-Coker are both established EPL midfielders. I guess we’ll both find out after another month or so.

        I just don’t feel like Aston Villa really need a holding midfielder. I’m sure Houiller wanted him, any team would want him, the question is if they really need him???? Galatasaray seemed like they needed him.


  5. Posted by corky on 2011/01/29 at 8:43 AM

    I thought it was really interesting when Jeff Bradley tweeted “Thoroughly entertained on-line today.” which made me think we were all wrong on Gala. Which we were.

    As for Villa, Grant Wahl makes a great point on Twitter. Bradley has always gotten PT no matter the coach. He’s like Dempsey in that. He’ll be fine.

    In any case, it’s a half-season loan — if it doesn’t work, he’s on the market for the summer with only one year left on a contract. He’ll be attractive to somebody.


  6. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/01/29 at 9:08 AM

    I don’t understand why its a loan. His old team is in a relegation fight. To me you either you sell him and cash out or you play him, try to stay up, and then sell him in the summer.

    By loaning him they accomplish what? You lose a player (assuming he would get more than a couple minutes a game) that can help your team (he played well to date). I guess you save his wages. Maybe you get more exposure for him and create more value in the summer but that feels like you are waiving the flag on the season.

    Unless it is a loan with a sizable option to buy this doesn’t make sense to me. What am I missing?


  7. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 11:39 AM

    I understand that they’re slightly different players, but to say they won’t be competing for a central midfield spot is slightly off the mark. If it was a wide player, say and out-and-out-winger [Walcott], inverted-winger [Johnson] or just a right-midfielder [Milner], I’d agree with you to a certain extent that whatever strategy the manager picks will decide which player starts. But there are only two or three central midfield spots, so they’re all competing to start. But Houlier plays 4-4-2 [thinking of his time with France and Liverpool] more than any other formation, so that’s likely to be two spots – and one of those will more than likely be a DM.

    Nobody has mentioned the fact that Steve Sidwell has just departed [to Fulham], so perhaps this is a direct replacement? Can Bradley show enough discipline? We have seen before that Houllier likes to strangle the life out of a game, and likes to keep things very tight.

    Whilst talking about Villa, I see Kyle Walker [on loan from Tottenham Hotspur] started at RB. Eric Lichaj didn’t make the sub’s bench… Is he injured?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/29 at 12:10 PM

      Out of the rotation, Houllier thinks he’s got no shot to start this year after the Man City game. Houllier’s way unfortunatey — he’s been playing reserves.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 12:27 PM

        The game where he conceded a penalty? Granted it was clumsy, but that’s very harsh all the same. But then again, Houllier still blames Ginola…


        • Posted by Stephen on 2011/01/29 at 3:06 PM

          Very harsh treatment of Lichaj…he completely shuts down one of the best attacking midfielders in all of Europe in Gareth Bale, then shows some growing pains and gets out-and-out benched? Houllier is a rough one.


        • Posted by Jack on 2011/01/29 at 4:18 PM

          Entire team had a horrific game. He needed a scapegoat and turned to the twenty two year old on his third start. Completely irrational.


  8. Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/29 at 2:28 PM

    What’s AV’s situation at CB right now?
    I’ve always wanted to see MB90 slotted there. Possible? or Crazy?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/29 at 2:33 PM

      I’m stealing this comment for my next column….I think.


    • Posted by Eric L on 2011/01/29 at 8:38 PM

      Richard Dunne and James Collins are the usual starters, Cuellar slots in usually when one of them miss out. And Cieran Clark plays there on occasion I believe, correct me if I am wrong on that one? I just don’t think a team fighting relegation would test out a player a CB when he has never really played there. Collins and Dunne are pretty good usually too. Just my opinion.


      • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/30 at 12:44 PM

        Thanks Eric. Indeed, I think its highly unlikely. But in the search for an American style – which I think should be full-out, Blackpool-esque attacking (btw Ian Holloway should be the next USMNT coach — only half-joking). I’ve been playing around formations in my head and I just think I’d like to see something that resembles this.
        Altidore/Bunbury & Agudelo
        Dempsey Jones Holden Spector/Edu Donovan
        Ream Goodson Bradley
        (with D&D having no real defensive responsibilities which fall to the central three who have much ground to cover. And wherein Bradley is given the green light to make unexpected runs straight down the middle…)
        Crazy, I know. But lively…


  9. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/29 at 4:07 PM

    i sure hope when junior starts running the show at a villa and moves them up the ladder, people will stop abusing our boy and acting like holden is as big a talent as bradley, which he obviously is not. and that is really a good thing for american fans, when a decent american player like holden can step in and command such a roll as he has.


    • Posted by Jack on 2011/01/29 at 4:20 PM

      Agree that it would be awesome if Bradley took charge in his time at Villa.

      However, disagree about the Holden comment. I don’t think that you can necessarily compare the two of them. Holden is more of an attacking midfielder–his job is totally different from Bradley’s. Holden is a better passer and a very, very good tackler. His job is to be creative, Bradley’s job is to break things up.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 4:46 PM

      Why is it obvious that Bradley is a better player than Holden? I’d like to hear your reasons.

      Villa’s fixture list looks pretty tasty: Liverpool, Arsenal, United plus a few local derbies…. and a head-to-head with Holden!


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/29 at 5:38 PM

        the main things that make bradley a clearly better talent are, his age, which is two years younger than holden. probably the top thing is his health. bradley is rarely injured and holden, he has a hard time staying healthy.

        bradley was and has been a key member of the national team, holden is getting some looks, but he has not broken in yet. of course junior has his father as the coach, but novak was the coach at the olympics and bradley was still the leader of the team over holden. holden is good, he is just not as good as bradley.

        holden came to europe on a free transfer, holding a euro passport, junior has worked his way up the ladder and scored big goals along the way and kept his teams in the upper divisions. now holden gets picked up by a decent english side, meanwhile bradley is securing move to a european cup winning side, with serious history and a real chance to be in europe over the next several years.

        owen coyle may want to build his team around holden, but that is only because his side does not have the funds to go after a player of bradleys stature.


        • Posted by Freegle on 2011/01/29 at 8:23 PM

          This may be a little bit picky, but none of your reasons here mention anything about talent. You mention age, health (speaking of which, a broken eye socket after getting jumped at a club and a fractured fibula due to being “de jonged” shouldn’t count as “having a hard time staying healthy”) , experience (both national team and club), and the history of teams each has played for… none of those make Bradley a more talented/better player.

          My bottom line on comparing the two is this: They play different positions/have different field responsibilities and in that regard, it’s sort of apples and oranges. I hate pigeon-holing players into positions like this but I will for the sake of this arguement, we will call Holden a CAM and Bradley a CDM. Now, I firmly believe that Holden can play Bradley’s role better than Bradley could ever play Holden’s (and if you’ve been watching Bolton this season, Holden is going box to box as well as anyone in the EPL).

          I’m not saying Holden is a better player than Bradley, but I don’t think the inverse can be said either.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 9:53 PM

        To annex Freegle’s comment, I respectfully disagree, Sir.

        So you’re saying Guzan is a better GK than Howard because he is younger? Right, that makes SO much sense. *If* they were as good as each other, Guzan’s ‘transfer value’ may be higher, but that doesn’t mean he’s “better”.

        Health – Holden is hardly a “Darren Anderton” is he? Getting injured doesn’t warrant having ‘health issues’. If he had constant hammy [Woodgate] or knee issues [McGrath], that would be fair enough. But his injuries sustained were the type that would be sustained by most if not all, under the circumstances.

        Oh, and by the way, when did Borussia Monchengladbach win the European Cup? And how does Bolton Wanderers not have history? Please, please, please stop making things up…
        And I think the Muamba-Holden partnership is doing quite well, don’t you? I haven’t spoken to Phil personally, but I am sure he could “afford a player of Bradley’s “stature” ‘.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/29 at 11:19 PM

          george, george, george. dont be trying to misrepresent what i said. please. it should not be lost on people that a villa and liverpool have been two of the more active teams in the transfer market and these are two teams with american ownership. this is a tight market and it is not a sellers market, excpet maybe at the tippy top, where torres could go for funny money, but thats another story, right.

          junior and donovan, are players that dont get injured, maybe it is luck, or maybe it is skill, probably some of both. spector and holden, more so spector, these guys find injuries and it hurts their team. bolton were rolling and holden got a minor knock and whala, bolton are sliding.

          george, i cant believe that you, in using the age factor, decide to pick the keeper position to prove whatever point you think you were trying to make. the main point with bradley is that he is younger, yet he still has a vastly superior resume. i mean jesus, bradley has more goals in one season of dutch soccer, then holden has in his whole career, yet some yardbirds want to try and have us believe holden is the superior offensive talent.

          personally, i favor sacha and his offensive game to holdens, and it is pretty close. holden is good, so is sacha, so is benny and dax. im sorry georgie boy, but i think you are having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that usa is producing so much talent in the soccer world. who do you favor between sidwell and holden?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/30 at 7:00 AM

          “but i think you are having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that usa is producing so much talent in the soccer world”

          Erm, aren’t we debating [two] American players?! Please tell me how I am having a hard time? I think you’ve got some sort of complex about that, TBH.

          When looking at their play in similar leagues in terms of quality [EPL vs. Bundesliga], I think the sample size is too small to compare for it to be meaningful. But for what it’s worth, Bradley [10/74] does have a slightly better goals-to-games ratio, vs. Holden [2/22]


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/30 at 7:29 AM

          george, there you go again trying to misrepresent what i am saying. if you are going to quote something i said, at least quote the whole sentance, even though it might be running one.

          its alright though, you are showing that the dirty pig scores more goals per app. than holden, who is even playing in a more advanced position. you did not add assist, which holden has one of and bradley has three, i believe, this year.

          the nice thing about both players is that you can be sure both players will let their games speak for themselves


    • Posted by Tabare on 2011/01/29 at 8:40 PM

      On current form, Holden is better than Bradley. Holden is as tenacious in defense, is arguably a better tackler, and is obviously far better on the ball and as a passer.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 9:56 PM

        I’d take Ben Watson or Steve Sidwell over Michael Bradley.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/29 at 11:34 PM

          George….Steve Sidwell…really?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/30 at 6:47 AM

          I’ll take that back. This is a classic example of why drinking Scotch whilst commenting on TSG is a bad combination!!


        • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/30 at 7:08 AM

          George, of all the silly things you’ve said, this is the silliest! There is no such thing as a bad combination when scotch is involved.

          And just kidding about the silly things.


  10. Posted by phlub on 2011/01/29 at 4:23 PM

    I still think it would be great to see MB in a central attacking midfield role a la his 2007/08 season. He has obviously proven that he is equally valuable and talented in a holding and defensive midfield position (where the US needs the most help), and with his broad skill sets I would say that he’d be equally effective at a CB position with a little experience.

    I realize Villa will not be the place for MB to once again discover his goal scoring streak. Last week saw Makoun starting ahaead of Petrov. Does that leave Reo-Coker next to find the bench? I guess it needs to be determined as to who might be the most affective partnership between the 4 candidates… with Pires showing that he’s still in good form as well today.


    • Posted by Cameron on 2011/01/29 at 4:28 PM

      Depends what kind of role they want him to take, but yeah, I think that they’re going to need his defensive abilities more than anything else, as that’s been Villa’s biggest problem this season. If I remember correctly, at Heerenveen he was more of an attacking player than he was at BMG. It would be nice to see him hit the back of the net a few times, though.


  11. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 4:38 PM

    At least the ‘visibility’ antagonists will go away!


  12. Posted by CJ on 2011/01/29 at 9:38 PM

    I feel like Bradley and Holden are players of the type that would contribute to each other’s positioning/style/gameplay with time. Both have high work rates. Both have the ability to chill with the ball. Both have defensive tackling skills. Both have a knack for offensive flourishes. A midfield with the two of them supporting each other in a “when you go forward I stay back” and vice versa is plausible to me. Why can’t we play them side by side and figure out the rest of the team around them + Donovan and Dempsey?


    • Posted by CJ on 2011/01/29 at 9:49 PM

      Here would be a 4-4-2 template to build from:

      XX – XX – XX – XX
      Donovan – Holden – Bradley – Dempsey
      XX – XX


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/29 at 10:01 PM

        Not sure it would work. Have you not seen the Gerrard-Lampard tamdem fail? Both [were?] great players, but both operate better with a specialised DM. I think when the USA play the better teams, they will need that speacialist DM in front of their back 4… Might get away with it in CONCACAF competition though.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/29 at 10:20 PM

          Yeah. On the other hand, when Everton played the Rodwell-Fellaini tandem together the partnership worked well. It’s all about the understanding between the two players as to who covers when and who gets forward when.

          That said, I think a five-man midfield–or a 4-4-2 diamond or even 4-3-3 (with 3 being Chelsea-style triple box-to-boxers)–is the best formation for the U.S..


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/30 at 7:31 AM

          Rather than a box-to-box, do you think Bradley has the ability to be a good defensive midfielder? Do you think he possesses the positional sense and anticipation – and discipline not to give away silly fouls in dangerous areas / pick up needless cards? What about pure speed, to recover ground [not questioning stamina here]?

          It seems that offensively, the US is in decent shape with good competition for places, but there is a question mark over that shield in front of the back four.


        • Posted by Jeff on 2011/01/30 at 9:22 AM

          I think the answer to this is a bit more obvious. Everyone is talking now about the 4-2-3-1 for the US, but to some extent, that negates Bradley’s attacking abilities (which I he exhibited with Heerenveen, and which I’d like to see a bit more of on the US team) and moreover, with Jones or Edu as the defensive mid, I don’t know that we really need Bradley back there as well. Why couldn’t we go a 4-1-4-1, with either Jones or Edu as the DM, and both Holden and Bradley as box-to-box central mids? Donovan and Dempsey could still go out wide, Jozy up top getting a bit more support from Bradley pushing up a little more. Jones has shown the ability to link up and also distribute nice long passes from the back.


  13. Posted by Suni G on 2011/01/30 at 6:45 AM

    Michael Bradley has been a standout for the national team and is building a very impressive career.

    He’s also over-rated by a considerable fraction on soccer fans here in the USA. His positional and tactical discipline may yet improve. But the most glaring limit on his play is the state of his technique and his mediocrity as a passer of the ball. His passing is scattered not “cultured” and compares quite unfavorably to what Holden and jones bring.

    I cheer for Mikey. He strikes me as a good kid. He’s clearly hugely committed.

    In my opinion he’s considered more than he is for two reasons. First, it is hard not to like a guy who busts his butt for your team. Second, Bradley represents that old school flavor of Us Soccer — heart, endeavor, guts, and limited skill. It’s familiar. It’s what was prevalent in most youth soccer programs, in college soccer, even in ODP.

    It is nice to look in the mirror and say “that’s great”. In a very similar way, English commentators tend to over-rate players who “get stuck in”.


    • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/30 at 7:12 AM

      It’s a bit confounding, though, that someone who lacks skill and technique would be among the all time USA greats at scoring and assists in European leagues, at the ripe age of 23. I guess all his goals are just down to barreling through the keeper and his assists come from kicking the ball as hard as he can down the field.


      • Posted by Tabare on 2011/01/30 at 7:42 AM

        Ah the facetious riposte.

        Everyone agrees Michael Bradley is a very good soccer player. This includes the people who think he’s over-sold, of which I am one.

        It would seem self-evident to me that Michael Bradley is both a gifted goal scorer — the timing of his trailing runs is often truly excellent — and a player with limited technical and passing ability.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/30 at 7:48 AM

          Good point Tabare…and well said.

          The USMNT-specific issue is should he always command the central spot for every match?

          Bradley…excellent stats and time in Europe.
          As a note, let’s not forget, if not for a sucker punch, Stu Holden would have likely been over there since he was 19 (at Sunderland nonetheless).

          Again, not putting one in front of the other.


        • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/30 at 7:55 AM

          Yes, it was facetious and also a bit tongue in cheek (in reference to “all time great)!

          Good points, though, Tabare. No doubt there are flaws to his game, though on the matter of passing it seems some people think that, on his day, he’s actually excellent, and others think he’s awful. Odd.

          Regardless, I’m very excited to see what he can do with the Villains.


    • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/30 at 7:18 AM

      But really, so many of these pro-Holden comments – and don’t get me wrong, I love his game – are based on cliches and feelings more than facts and tactical knowledge.

      Luckily for all involved in this debate, now that lil bradley is going to play (we expect) at Villa, we can now do a direct comparison between Holden and Bradley. I’ve got my money on Bradley, in the long run, to have the (much) more impressive career.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/30 at 7:52 AM

        This is the thing, John – I made a comment in another TSG article that “Holden has had a very good season so far”. I have watched Bolton a decent amount this season and Holden-Muamba have a good partnership. Just to give some perspective, I wasn’t comparing 20-EPL-game-Holden, to somebody like Scholes, who’s played close to 500. Far from it. Next thing I know, I’m in this Holden / Bradley debate!


  14. Posted by CJ on 2011/01/30 at 6:54 AM

    I had that thought tingling in the back if my head but here’s my counter to that. Bradley and Holden aren’t on a superstar level with clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea. The ego isn’t there yet which leads me to my point that I think they could buy into a vice versa system for the benefit of team. That statement to me is like the mantra for the USMNT… for the benefit of the team. I want to say Holden even said something to that effect in an interview recently.


  15. Posted by Alex on 2011/01/30 at 1:15 PM

    The eternal debate about Michael Bradley continues. He has consistently proven his doubters wrong: at the Metros, in the Netherlands (oh he won’t play there), in Germany (where he’s made a strong name for himself), and I bet will do the same at Villa. What’s nice about Mike is that he combines what somebody called the old-school American mentality (never say die, huge workrate, etc) with an unbelievable soccer sense. That is where he blows basically everybody off the map in the CM debate. His ability to provide support, cover, timely runs, make the smart pass, etc are much better than his competitors. The only reason he can do that is because he’s been around the game at a very high level from a young age. His medium range passing game sometimes lacks polish, mostly because he rushes it. But I will mention one passing sequence that I think shows his value. It was the costa rica game when we tied 2-2. Everybody remembers Bornstein getting the goal, but people forget the most important sequence. Bradley gets the ball in space, dekes the first person, and has three options. Run into space at the goal, dink the ball into the box where the most people are, and the option nobody saw was swing it wider to Donovan (again in the box, very tough pass) to switch the point of attack. Most people would have done 1 or 2, but Bradley did the third option, which was definitely the best choice. Donovan crosses it, we get the corner, and then the goal. A less astute player would definitely have ran at the Costa Rican defense, but Bradley did the right thing. he does the right thing a lot. At the same time, lets not forget his biggest factor, which for me is his big-game mentality. Some guys have had it (like Mathis), but Mike has shown this “intangible” from a very young age. And honestly, it’s basically indisputable from the nats, metros, etc.

    Not to say Holden isn’t talented, but I just do not think he brings the same amount of verve and audacity to the middle of the park that Bradley does. I also scoff at whoever says that Holden is a better tackler than Mike. That’s a joke right?

    The problem is how we line up the team going forward? Honestly, if I had a full squad and was coach my team probably looks something like this:


    I think that’s the lineup right now to be honest, of course if Gooch and Boca are healthy. Maybe Jozy up top, with Dempsey out left, and then sub in Benny for Jozy, and push Dempsey up top.


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/30 at 4:53 PM

      alex, that is a nice post, what is your ranking in the tsg fantasy league? (37)


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/01/31 at 2:24 PM

      I could not agree more with Alex and other posters that MB has tremendous upside around the box as a withdrawn forward/mf for both club and country.
      I think you overrate him defensively if you regard his tackling as above avg and his positional sense defensively is just not up to snuff. Rewatch the Australia friendly leading up to WC 10 for a great example. Aus continually fed 25-30 yd balls through the central D the entire game. Granted his partner was Clark but if you watch him enough you see this regularly. For all of his “work rate” he plays hardly any man up defense for B Monch or MNT. As a matter of fact, he is mostly a liability in the CDM role in almost every game he plays. It’s going forward where he shines.
      Holden on the other hand is a fantastic on ball defender and a better middle third distributor by a long way.
      In summary, Mike should be more forward and Holden long term could make a wonderful CDM. If Bob allows it.


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