It was a surreal day at Bodymoor Heath yesterday as the Eric Djemba-Djemba saga rumbled on but it provided a valuable insight into the workings of a football club.
It all apparently ended in smiles between David O'Leary, the Villa manager, and Djemba-Djemba after the Cameroon international explained that comments made to a Eurosport reporter had been misinterpreted in translation.
However, after Eurosport revealed a full transcript of the interview, the only man to come out of the incident with credit was O?Leary.
The day started with quotes from Djemba-Djemba being splashed all over the national newspapers apparently criticising O?Leary?s tactics and his fellow players over their ball-retention abilities.
O? Leary had kept his usual Thursday morning appointment to speak with the local press corps and was visibly bristling when questioned about Djemba-Djemba?s alleged comments.
?Every manager has to deal with something like that when players are out of the team and that?s life,? he said.
?You can?t say that?s a shock because most of the stuff that has come out over the last few years at any club has been when players have gone away on international duty.
?It usually comes out when they are in their own environment and I haven?t spoken to him yet but I will be.
?For me, it was also criticising a few of his own team-mates about not holding the ball up.?
Djemba-Djemba, who has yet to start a first-team game for Villa this season, had already spoken about his desire to play for the first team to a local paper only two weeks ago. He has compounded that with these comments even though Djemba-Djemba?s English is average at best and a nefarious journalist could spin words that are said in innocence out of control.
However, moving back to the story, and after O?Leary had given us a good half an hour of his time, we all retreated to the lounge area to file copy for today?s editions.
Suddenly, Roy Aitken, O?Leary?s No 2, appeared and ushered us back into O?Leary?s office where a mournful-looking Djemba-Djemba was sitting with a copy of the Daily Express in his hand.
O?Leary, to his credit, informed us that the matter was closed but we were free to talk to the #1.35 million signing in private over his alleged comments. He was contrite and assured us that he had been, to coin a phrase, ?kippered,?
?I spoke to the interviewer when I went to play for Cameroon, but I certainly didn?t say that the manager needed to change things, as that is no good for me or him,? Djemba-Djemba said.
?I was surprised when he called me into his office and he showed me the paper. I told him that if I had a problem I would go and speak to him not the newspapers.
?My English is not fluent but I try to speak well and the manager was surprised when he saw the papers.
?However, I didn?t say he needs to change his tactics and I think it was misinterpreted.?
Djemba-Djemba was at pains to point out that his hastily-arranged meeting with us was genuine and he was not undertaking it with one hand tied behind his back
I genuinely am enjoying my time at Villa,? he said.
?I am not saying it just because of what was printed in the newspaper and I wasn?t criticising the manager?s tactics. It is stupid to do that.?
O?Leary needs a disaffected player shooting his mouth off to the press like a hole in the head at present as he prepares for tomorrow?s game with Sunderland.
But he has no reason to reproach himself as he was honest and up-front during the course of this interview; however, O?Leary is nobody?s fool and when he sees the full transcription of the interview with Djemba-Djemba he might be taking a slightly different line and the player?s pay packet could be lighter by the end of this month.