Alex McLeish has admitted dropping Charles N’Zogbia from his Aston Villa squad to face Manchester United for disciplinary reasons, after the Frenchman failed to turn up for treatment on an unknown injury.
United won the match 1-0 thanks to a first half Phil Jones strike but the big talking point beforehand was the omission of N’Zogbia who had started the match six days earlier against Swansea City.
After the match, McLeish explained the winger’s absence and said there will be an internal investigation into the matter.
“Charles never turned up to treatment on one of the days last week when we was supposed to so he’s got to take it on the chin and he has to show us the great player he can be,” he told reporters.
“Since the start of the season I don’t think anybody has said, ‘I’ve had an outstanding performance boss and you can’t leave me out.’
“There’s been good performances but I’m looking for people who pick up the gauntlet and say, 'you’re going to find it hard to leave me out next week.’
“But, in saying that, it was a discipline matter and that would have been the case for anybody, there’s no favouritism and when it comes to something like that we have to respect the rules. There’ll be an internal [investigation].”
The match also saw Jermaine Jenas, Shay Given and Chris Herd all have to be replaced due to injuries picked up during the game.
McLeish said Herd had felt a twinge in his thigh before revealing Jenas will have to be assessed on Monday after he limped out of his first start for the club since joining from Tottenham.
On Given, who went off after making a clearance on the stretch, McLeish added: “Hopefully it’s just cramp, but it might be a grade one hamstring which is the smallest tear. Great credit to Brad [Guzan] for coming in and handling it really well. He was unfazed and I was delighted with his performance.
“It can be three [or] four weeks, sometimes a hamstring at any stage is not overnight. Let’s hope it’s not too severe and not indeed cramp.”
The game was a fairly uninspiring contest with few chances for either sides. Villa struggled in the first half to get anywhere near the United goal but after the break they looked much more composed and had a couple of chances through Emile Heskey and James Collins.
Describing his side’s performance, McLeish said he had been disappointed by his team’s display in the opening 45 minutes before giving them credit for how they fared after half-time.
He said: “I thought the second-half we were much better than we were in the first. [With the] first half at nil-nil I don’t think there was anything in it, we were quite organised and United’s goal seemed to make us a bit nervous.
“We never really showed great composure or strung three passes together and the first-half really belonged to United without question and the fans didn’t like it.
“I wasn’t particularly keen on it either. We wanted to be in their faces and we didn’t do that first-half, but the second-half was much better.
“We very nearly nicked a draw. We had some good chances near the death; Emile’s missed a good header at the back-post, James Collins has had a great header [which forced] a great save from their goalkeeper.
“If Emile maybe slips Benty in instead of trying for the last-minute wonder goal then perhaps we would have got something out of it. When it was 1-0 we’re always in it.”