The honest and short answer is probably, no. I’ve have deliberated over this and I keep coming to the same conclusion. Let me explain
First time around. His stature and presence at the back with Gabbidon was solid in tempestuous times. He came with high praise from Pardew and, I feel, he delivered. He proved himself to have Premier League pedigree and earned himself a move to a very different Aston Villa. For me, and I’m going to add the caveat that I don’t have the best of memories, Collins was a good Premier League defender at Villa. He and Dunne formed a partnership that was big, imposing and successful and Collins went from strength to strength – becoming a lynchpin of that Villa side. I am sure that this was in no small part down to Martin O’Neill’s discipline and organisation that so frustrated us when Sunderland came to Upton Park but it was also that Collins had the opportunity to mature as a player
This maturity and his impressive displays meant that Collins became a stalwart for both Wales and Villa but now three years later, he’s back. So, have we pulled off a great coup? Selling a prospect and getting back the finished product? Have we got our ‘Ginge’ back? I’m not entirely sure we have.
When Collins was with us first time around I was a lot younger which would temper my view and idolization but I felt he was amazing. Yes, as Joel Mayoh pointed out in the previous edition, he has never been quick but I don’t feel this time around that he has been as assured on the ball. He seems too panicky. I understand, everyone has an off day so I’m not going to lambaste him about Swansea but this season we are in a 40 point game and I’m not sure we’ve got many to spare.
However, for me there is something a little bit more. I felt, last year, that Tomkins and Reid were an exciting and promising partnership. I feel that as a pair they played well enough to deserve a go at the big time. Furthermore, I think that we as a club stand for youth and I don’t think so far this season Collins has looked that much better than Tomkins.
The argument stands that Collins is more experienced, he has shown that he can do it time and time again at this level and he is a regular international but the question remains – have we got the same or better player back? No. Have we got a player that will at least useful for the long haul that inevitably will be this season? Yes. This I think is what we need to focus on even when we take our rose tinted; nostalgic glasses off.