"Why did we buy Collymore???" (21 Feb)
Aston Villa manager John Gregory has admitted his surprise at predecessor and former colleague Brian Little for signing controversial striker Stan Collymore. Gregory had worked as a coach under Little but was in charge at Wycombe Wanderers when Collymore was signed by the Midlands giants 21 months ago for a club-record 7million from Liverpool. The Villa boss remains a big fan of Little - now in charge of Stoke City - but is still shocked that he brought in Collymore ``given his track record''. His fears have been justified with Collymore failing to deliver the goods on the pitch, instead becoming embroiled in controversy away from the action and now feeling the need to have stress counselling. Gregory, who has regularly criticised Collymore in recent weeks, said: ``I was one of those who believed that Brian Little never put a foot wrong after having worked for him for a long time at Leicester and Villa. ``But it was a surprise to me when he signed Collymore. ``I thought `Brian must know what he is doing, he is top man' and I reasoned that his signings had always been shrewd. ``But it was a shock given the problems Collymore had faced at Anfield and the problems he was having off the field. ``When I sign somebody, I certainly go into their background as much as I can, to find out about the extra baggage that comes with the player. ``I knew of Collymore's problems at Liverpool and spoke to a lot of the Liverpool management team and players. I think everyone was surprised Villa signed Stan Collymore given the circumstances.'' Gregory has not been formally transfer-listed but Gregory dropped a large hint that he would off-load the striker if the price was right. He said: ``With him being out of the side, I think everyone is aware that Collymore is for sale.'' Gregory said that the attitude of the Villa fans was similar to his own regarding the former Nottingham Forest star. He said: ``There has been a mixed reaction. Against Leeds on Wednesday they looked at Stan as someone to get the side back into the game, someone to hang their hat on. ``But in the previous match against Blackburn someone chanted his name from the Holte End and everyone else started booing. ``I think the fans views are similar to mine. If he is prepared to die for the club they will support Stan. If not, they won't support him.''

carlingnet (c)



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