Football: Merson unhappy at bit-part role
Wednesday 29 September 1999
Merson, who has just completed 12 months at Villa Park after his pounds 6.75m move from Middlesbrough, played a key role in Villa's last home League match, against Bradford, after coming off the bench.
The former Arsenal player, whose struggle with drug and gambling addictions has been well documented, is desperate to hold down a regular place in the side. But Merson fears Gregory may view him as being most effective in a bit-part role - and is resigned to turning out for the reserves against Middlesbrough tonight, rather than starting the Premiership match against Liverpool this weekend.
Merson said: "I came on as a sub against Bradford and Chester [in the Worthington Cup] and did OK, but I'm frightened that's the situation and role I could get into all the time.
"That's the thing that worries me, that being a sub could start to become my regular position and viewed as my best role because I've done so well coming on.
"The boss might look at it and think: `I've got to put a team out that might win - but if we don't look like doing that then I've got someone, Paul Merson, to fall back on to turn the game'.
"He might also be thinking `If I play Paul Merson from the start and things aren't working then what and who do we fall back on to turn things around?'
"I want to play regularly but I don't think I've got half a chance of playing on Saturday against Liverpool. I am being realistic. You get vibes and feelings about things, and that's one of them.
"There is a lot of added pressure on me to perform if I play, but I don't mind that. I know I can play, but it upsets me when I don't perform or I'm not given the reins to perform."
Merson, nevertheless, does admit that he presents Gregory with a dilemma when it comes to picking his team. He said: "The manager is in a position at the moment where he can pick a team without me that is very solid but won't make a million chances. For a team in the top seven I don't think we've made 25 chances in eight games. If he goes the other way and plays me, we will make chances and I'll be the one that creates stuff. But we are not going to be as solid going the other way because I'm not an Ian Taylor. I won't get around the pitch, breaking the game up and tackling.
"It hurts me when I don't play, but I do understand it's a funny situation and the manager is thinking: `can I play him in that system?'
"But I know if I play and play well that we have got more than a 50-50 chance of winning."
n Middlesbrough are facing a midfield injury crisis ahead of Sunday's derby match against Newcastle. Paul Ince and Juninho are both doubtful for the game after picking up injuries in the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea last Saturday.
Latest in Sport
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Arsenal transfer targets: The summer signings that would please Thierry Henry, including Sami Khedira and Edinson Cavani
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 Stephen Hawking endorses Labour in the General Election
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...