Football: Villa fans asked to hold fire on Yorke

WHEN DWIGHT YORKE defected from Aston Villa to Manchester United, John Gregory said he could have shot him. As the Villa manager prepared the Premiership leaders for tomorrow's visit of second-placed United, he appealed for supporters to hold their verbal fire until Yorke became a legitimate target at kick-off time.

Responding to a call from the Villa fanzine, Heroes & Villans, to give the pounds 12.6m striker "the silent treatment", Gregory said: "It's out of order to suggest that people totally ignore Dwight. I hope he gets a standing ovation from our fans because he deserves it. It's their first chance to thank him for everything he did for Villa. Then at three o'clock he becomes the enemy again."

Gregory has declined to retract his remark about "shooting" Yorke, believing he would not be true to himself if he did, but insists there is "nothing to heal" between them. "It was just how I felt at the time. I was hurt that he didn't want to play for Villa, though I still have the utmost admiration for him as a player."

Indeed, Yorke and Andy Cole would have been lining up against United if Gregory's plans had come to fruition. They had, he admitted, been his "dream team" for Villa's attack. "It's an outstanding partnership. Andy's the out-and-out No 9, Dwight's the one who brings others into the game. The goal the two of them created for Cole in Barcelona was phenomenal - it could very well end up being my goal of the season."

Both teams are leaking goals more freely than is customary for championship contenders, Villa having conceded 16 in six games. "Fortunately we're scoring a few too," said Gregory, "but so are United. I saw them last Sunday and they looked as though they might score every time they went forward. Then again, Leeds looked like scoring a few as well. So it could be a 9-9 thriller on Saturday."

Paul Merson, substituted with acute back pain during Villa's 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest, trained normally yesterday but is unlikely to be risked against United. "We'll have to see how he reacts," Gregory said. "That's the problem: he can train OK, then it's agony the next day. We've got to be careful not to do any permanent damage.

"Paul saw a specialist this week and we don't think he is going to need surgery. But we were also told that if we hammer him over the busy Christmas programme, we could suffer the consequences because he might end up needing an operation."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick