Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Saturday October 25 2008
In the run up to the Wigan Athletic Vs Aston Villa game at the JJB this Sunday yours truly nipped down to Warwickshire (cyberly at least) and grabbed a few words with el supremo at Vital Villa none other than The Fear.
Good morning and welcome to Vital Latics, do I call you Fear or Mr Fear?
The Fear will do
Well welcome to Vital Latics The Fear and thanks for doing this interview today with us, I`d like to start with your thoughts on the start to the season its been a bit stop start since August, how do you feel at having the internationals so early in the season?
Totally ruins the flow of the league doesn't it? Would be so much better if they tried to clump the internationals together slightly more to have less interruptions and certainly not have them at the start of a season. More so for friendlies which are meaningless and a waste of time!
How long have you been a Villa supporter?
From birth! There was no choice, I popped out in 1969 and had Villa stamped on my forehead. I thank God every day for the privilege bestowed on me!
Have you been pleased with your start to the season?
Yes, we've not dazzled yet and aren't in our full stride by any means, so to be up there and picking up results is great. The Carling Cup was a disappointment which I didn't think we'd go through again, I thought we'd have learnt from last season but then, we don't have the biggest squads and are in the UEFA Cup so ... no I was going to say it might have been a blessing but I just don't believe that, we should have dispatched QPR and still be in the competition! Last night v Ajax was a return to the good days in Europe and so we are shaping up nicely. I still hope and pray we bring in more strike power though, I do think we are short of options up front.
How's life under Martin O`Neil?
You'd better ask his missus, not me... what are you suggesting? :o)
I think he is an interesting character, not sure I fully understand him, then again I'm not sure anyone does but he has a chance to leave a real legacy and become a legend at Villa. Will he do it? I'm on the fence, some of his traits are great, other parts I have doubts about. He's doing a good job though, from 16th to 11th to 6th isn't bad improvement is it? All eyes on this season now he has spent some money! Think his biggest mistake is not going for Jermain Defoe, I truly believe he would have been the difference between shooting up a place or even two last season and is the sort of quality we need.
MON certainly seems to have more good will than any manager since the Big Ron or Brian Little days though and the vast majority of fans appear to be 100% behind him.
Are you happy with your summer signings?
Yes, compared to the summer before, we did quite well and spent a fair amount of money. As above though, the major piece of the puzzle, a striker to give competition to Gabby and John Carew, is still missing and that does surprise me.
Who should the Latics fans watch out for in the Villa team?
Ashley Young if he is on form is top notch and his free kicks can be deadly. Man to get passed is Martin Laursen, good look with that! Seriously, watch him. I've never seen a man win so many headers or put his head in where it hurts so much and he weighs in with more than his fair share of goals as well, top class.
What are your aspirations for Villa this new season?
I think we could be on the verge.... however I do think we are a striker (at least one) short of a serious challenge. I can see us being there or there abouts for the 5-6 spot at the end of the season again, with a top addition in January if we stick around the area we are in now, then who knows, we might even push further.
That is if the battling Villa turn up, if we play like we did against Stoke or Chelsea, then....
I am hopeful - even more so after outclassing Ajax last night - of a good UEFA cup run, although there are some serious outfits in the competition this year. A final v AC Milan would be nice though!
Do you think that a club the size of Wigan could ever challenge for the title?
No. I think these days it is impossible which is a massive shame for the league.
In my opinion we have the established top four - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. You then have Everton if they get a takeover or get their act together, Manchester City - even more so now they have big money, Tottenham Hotspur - despite the current shambles and Villa who can look to break that so called strangle hold, we've done it before and could do it again IF all is well. Very big IF.
How do you feel the Latics will do this season?
Mid-table, safe, maybe a cup run? Potentially you could push for the UEFA spot if you keep Zaki and he proves to be able to be consistent throughout the season.
I'd actually be interested to read in the article comments below where you all think you can finish + the answer to the question above about if you feel you'll ever be able to compete for the title, if not what your limit might be?
If you had to pick one of the current Latics players to be in your squad who would it be and why?
Has to be Zaki, on current evidence he looks world class, just a shame Bruce didn't buy him instead of loaning. I can understand the pressure on managers and therefore the reluctance, but I think he was quoted the other day as admitting the mistake. I think he'll be snapped up, will be interesting to see what the terms of the loan are and if the big boys will have to wait until the summer to pounce. I know I've seen Real Madrid linked, that said, who aren't they linked to?!
Who do you think will finish in the top 4 and bottom 3 this season?
Top four - Manchester United, Chelsea (really is a toss up between them) Liverpool then Arsenal OR Villa/Manchester City. That is with my opti hat on and assuming we strengthen in January AND that we get maximum points in our games v you fine folk of Wigan as well as Blackburn at home next Wednesday. IF we don't do that, then as above, 5/6 will be us.
Bottom three, really is too early to know. I do think an established club could go down, possibly Boro and if Spurs don't wake up, they could provide a massive shock BUT I think they have enough quality to at least scrape through to survive - that said I think there last 15 odd games (end of last season as well) show relegation form.
I'd love to see Stoke stay up but I doubt they will. Hull? Surprise package, I've got my fingers crossed that they'll continue their fine run and survive and I have a feeling the Baggies might just scrape through to survival so maybe Fulham will also struggle?
Prediction for Latics Vs Villa?
I predict a pint or two and a pie or two to be sunk/eaten by myself and another close encounter like last season with another 2-1 win to the mighty claret and blues.
Many thanks to The Fear
See my interview on Vital Villa : www.astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk
And check out the Vital Villans thread in our Vital Wigan forum: Vital Villa on Tour: Wigan
Vital Latics - Talking to the 'others`
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Date:Saturday October 25 2008
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