Milosevic displays one of his better moments

 

DOWN the years Aston Villa have been renowned for employing crowd pleasing centre forwards with an eye for goal.

From Gerry Ritchens and Andy Lochead through to Peter Withe and Andy Gray.

Now Villa have Savo Milosevic as their number nine, the man on whose shoulders so much expectancy was placed when he moved into English football just over 18 months ago.

The 23 year old Serb has in the main struggled to come to terms with the pace and physical demands of the Premiership. Only in glimpses has he shown genuine class, and during one of those rare moments at Villa Park on Saturday he scored the important goal which ended Villa's uncertain spell of six matches without a league victory.

Milosevic's seventh goal of the season could prove as important to him as for the team. It was the deciding factor against a Sunderland outfit who may lack a degrees of quality but make up for it with the energy and enthusiasm instilled by their popular manager Peter Reid.

"If a centre forward is not scoring enough then the supporters' demand you go out and buy someone who can. That is something I have learned to live with," said the Villa manager Brian Little.

"When Savo is not scoring he tends to go away and get uptight. He must learn to relax more off the field, and be more ruthless on it.

"On the training ground he strikes the ball tremendously well. But when he plays seeds of doubts creep in, and he tries to bend the ball into the net or sidefoot it in rather than be more clinical. I still believe he is a very good player, but he must package all his attributes more regularly. He is a talent, and when he scores I cannot fault his performance."

If Milosevic can build on the confidence which this display gave him then he still has time to how Little that he has a part to play at Villa before the manager embarks on the inevitable summer spending spree he hopes will transform his team from nearly men into genuine championship contenders.

Sunderland now have a three week break - brought about by heir FA Cup dismissal and the international programme - and Reid plans to use the time to rebarge batteries with a few days off and then ease key players back from injury before resuming he battle to maintain mid table security.

Influential midfielder Michael bray smiled "as well as golf I'm cure we shall have a few drinks and laughs before returning even bitter and more determined. We could not have a better manager than Pete# Reid. Most people expected us to get relegated this season, but there is tremendous spirit at the club, and we are confident that we could even finish in the top eight."