Why Brett Holman Is Being Played in the Wrong Position for Aston Villa

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23:  Brett Holman of Aston Villa holds off Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on December 23, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Alex McLeish signed Brett Holman on a free transfer in February 2012, but when the Australian international arrived at Villa Park, the Scotsman was gone.

Imagine the trepidation, then, of moving to a new country for a new job and not knowing your new boss.

Does Paul Lambert rate me? Has he even seen me play?

Luckily for Holman, he was given his shot in preseason and after a goalscoring summer period, took his rightful place on the left-wing in the starting XI against West Ham.

Villa lost and admittedly looked a little toothless in giving service to Darren Bent from both the central and wide areas.

It wasn't long until Paul Lambert started running with a new formation, switching winger Holman to a central midfield slot. Now, there is no way Holman could slot in at wing-back, but it's arguable that he shouldn't be in the center, either.

The Aussie's crossing is decent—not spectacular—but enough to go by. His inch-perfect ball in to Christian Benteke for his goal against Norwich City proved he can measure a ball in when it's required.

He's also an incredibly hard worker, and while that's useful in the middle, he was giving full-backs a real workout while out on the touchline.

When Lambert switched to a 3-5-2, he asked Holman to be the link between the front two and the back seven. He wanted him to use his eye for goal, his industry and his sheer commitment for the good of the team.

A golazo against Queens Park Rangers and a golazo against Norwich City masked the average job he was doing, while the huge amount of goals Villa conceded over Christmas shifted the focus entirely away from him.

It is not Holman's fault: He played largely as a winger for AZ Alkmaar before joining and only rarely played in a second-striker role. Furthermore, he wasn't familiar with a 3-5-2 formation, much less the idea of being a central shuttler.

The strange thing, then, is now that Lambert has switched back to the 4-2-3-1 formation (he did so for the impressive draw at Swansea), he's not using Holman wide—or at all. Andi Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor have become the preferred candidates despite not being true wide men.

Lambert does has four excellent strikers at his disposal and wants to give them all a game, but it is truly a strange situation.

Villa still aren't carrying a substantial threat on the touchline, and as willing as Weimann is to give everything for the cause, the team has better options there.

Fabian Delph is performing superbly though the middle, and Ashley Westwood rightfully receives the plaudits, but we're seeing full-backs and central midfielders being relied upon to come wide and deliver a cross.

Really, they should be on the edge of the box mopping up the scraps as the wingers fire those in, but Charles N'Zogbia is very much a student of Arjen Robben, while Weimann's strengths lay in 18-yard box finishing.

What a dilemma for Lambert.