Ahead of the Aston Villa full back's loan move to Bolton Wanderers, we had a chat with Kirsten Schlewitz, one of our good friends and writer SB Nation's Aston Villa blog 7500 to Holte about Stephen Warnock. Given that we're Bolton fans, we never had much of a real reason to pay attention to the defender before so we'd thought we'd ask a person who does.
What are his strengths and weaknesses? Is he better than the Championship? Why does his name look strange if you say it repeatedly? Find out the answers to these questions and more after the jump:
Lion of Vienna Suite: First off, what do you think about Stephen Warnock? When his name pops up, what is the first thing that comes to mind for you?
Kirsten (7500 To Holte): My first thought was failure, but really, it's more confusion. He was good enough in his first season to take a trip to South Africa, even if he never touched the pitch. So what happened?
Does Warnock have any obvious strengths and/or weaknesses?
Well, he can stick to his man. Sometimes this involves actual sticking of the sort that earns a yellow card due to spikes in someone's leg. He can get caught out a little too easily when he goes forward, but he's certainly willing to do so. His physical abilities are certainly still there, but his confidence has taken a knock.
What was the initial reaction to Warnock when he signed for VIlla and how has that perception changed over the last few seasons?
I remember being pleased but not overly enthusiastic. He seemed like a solid defender with plenty of experience. But there's been a lot of turmoil at Villa over the past couple seasons, and that affected Warnock more than most. It's showed in his play and he's become an easy target for abuse by the supporters.
What changed between last season and this one where Warnock has gone from featuring in just about every game to not a single one? Is this a symptom of not having Alex McLeish ruining everything?
Well, it all started when Gerard Houllier began guiding Villa in a new direction. He was frozen out of the squad and when he came back, he just wasn't the same player. As mentioned above, it's not a physical thing, it's a mental one. This is rather evidenced by Paul Lambert's choice not to use him -- a couple mistakes in preseason and he just collapsed. He needs some coddling now.
I have typed out the name Stephen Warnock five times now and it looks & sounds strange. Any thoughts on that?
Well Warnock can sometimes start to sound like Pillock...take from that what you will.
Is he able to push into the midfield? What about provide width down the flanks? Can Warnock provide cover in any position other than left back?
He played left midfield under McLeish a couple times, but that was McLeish, who was idiotic enough to use Alan Hutton at right wing. The problem with Warnock is that he really can't get back when he goes forward. He pretty much needs one assignment, and when he's got it, he can do it fairly well. Best to keep him at leftback, I think.
Lastly, do you think Warnock would do well in the Championship? Is that a good level for him or is his play at a higher standard?
We like the idea of Warnock in the Championship. If it truly is a mental issue, he'll be able to regain confidence while playing with a club that's really not that far off of the Premier League. He's probably never again going to be the player we first saw at Villa, but he has the potential to be very good for Bolton. If Coyle can soothe his worries and his ego, this will be a very good fit and he could be one of the best fullbacks at that level.