Interview With A Villa Fan
1) Would you say you`ve had a good season? Over or under achieved?
I'm gutted we've not won the Champions League in truth, that said as we weren't in it I guess my expectations were slightly high. I think, judging by a not too productive summer of spending and no real signings in January, that we've done fantastically well to be up there and fighting for 5th place. I was certainly looking for a season-on-season improvement so anything in the top ten would have been ok but a club this size, with a manager like Martin O'Neill and top new owners really should be back where we always used to be, in the top six and challenging.
The worst part of the season, apart from a few Premiership 'no shows' like against Sunderland and Fulham was the early cup exits. Going out to Manchester United I guess wasn't unexpected but the loss to Leicester City was awful!
Overall, I think it has been a good season and might be looked back on as a great season if we do get Europe and use this year as a launchpad for next season with a top summer of spending.
2) Do you think you are ready to challenge the top four next season?
The platform is there, the infrastructure is being vastly improved, I had a tour around Bodymoor Heath (our training ground) recently and it is unbelievable. It certainly matches anything in Europe now and they are even building a full size replica of the Villa pitch for the players to train on. So yes, we should now be able to start seriously challenging. I think with a few buys in January (I concede not always easy + it is simpler for me to say this than it is for the manager to do it) we might even have pipped Liverpool to 4th this season. There will be a few others no doubt also up and challenging next season. If Manchester City get their act together they could challenge, so could Tottenham Hotpsur and even maybe Newcastle. Never easy but the belief has returned to Villa that we can at least make a fist of it.
All will depend on how wisely and how much MON spends in the summer I think.
3) Is Martin O`Neil the man to carry the club forward to the next level or do you need a new manager to make this step?
Ask me at the end of next season, seriously! The first season we were scrambling, this season we have been building and hopefully next season will start to really show what he can do. I hope he is the man, I hated the manager-merry-go-round under the Ellis era. When we (we, lol, I get out of breath walking up the bloody stairs!) play the ball on the ground we certainly look a decent team, my main doubts are centred around the lack of spending last summer and in January and the long ball game we have sometimes played BUT the manager is highly rated and knows he has much to prove and I'm 100% sure he is determined to do that. He has brought in a couple of very good signings, Ashley Young being a masterstroke. Now all eyes are on the summer and this will be the key to his success I think.
4) Villa Park is an aging stadium would you consider a move to a new venue and possible ground share with your neighbours Birmingham City?
You are having a giraffe aren't you? Villa Park is resplendent, one of the favourite destinations for many other Premier League players, I remember seeing many a quote from the likes of Michael Owen and Ryan Giggs about coming to VP and its history etc. We'd never share with Birmingham, no one would be stupid enough to try, if they did both clubs would lose 90% of their active fans imho. I also think we will never move from Villa Park. You have to remember - and we don't shout it from the roof tops nearly as much as we should - that Villa were the founders of the League and so we have the right to claim we are the home of football! Imagine if Man Utd had done that, the press would be forever and a day reminding us.
The Holte is one of the best stands in Europe, and the Trinity is a new stand anyway, thanks to Ellis who vandalised our historic and glorious old Trinity. That really should have bee a listed building...!
So, no, we won't consider a move, 'we shall not, we shall not be moved, 'cause we're the pride of Birmingham, we shall not be moved'.... So there!
5) With the Latics in town on Saturday you will no doubt be fancying your chances of a victory, if you did a scout report who would you tell Steve Bruce be fearful of in the Villa side and is there an area of your team that we could possibly exploit?
I do fancy our chances after our last four games where we've managed 17 goals. However whenever, as a Villa fan, you get confident..... ahem.
On our day we are very difficult to contain, there is so much pace in the team it is untrue, how do you stop Gabby Agbonlahor, Ashley Young or especially the Hulk that is John Carew when they are in full flow? Add to that the sublime passing of Gareth Barry and if they are on song, they'll keep your guys fully occupied.
6) Do you think that the Latics will always be strugglers in the Premier League or do you think that smaller clubs can still challenge at the top?
I wish the days weren't over when 'smaller' clubs could challenge, but sadly unless things change radically in football, they are. You can certainly go on decent cup runs and be challenging the mid table, not sure you can push on to start trying to gain European football on a regular basis, that said as Jimmy Greaves once said, it is a funny old game!
7) If you were to recommend one of our players to Martin O`Neil as a summer transfer target who would it be and why?
Well if Manchester United are really sniffing around (I now have a terrible image of Alex Ferguson using his nose where perhaps he shouldn't) Wilson Palacios for £5m, maybe that would be a good recommendation, I'm far too humble to suggest anyone to the manager though!
8) Finally can you give us your prediction for the game.
Well, we are having a Vital Villa get together before the game, so no doubt after a few brews I'll do my usual 18-0 to the Villa prediction, but seriously, if our guys come out as they have of late, we could go 3-0 or more. I'd be totally happy with a 1-0 to us and Everton to lose against Arsenal though.
For my answers on Vital Villa: www.astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk