Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Thursday August 13 2009
In the build to the opening game of the season between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa I managed to grab a word with Vital Football guru and staunch Villa fan Jonathan Fear about the preseason, Villa, Latics and Saturdays game, lets see how the conversation went:
Hows the preseason been going?
Pre-season has been good, we had a few low key friendlies and then competed in and won the Peace Cup against the likes of Atlante, Porto and Juventus. I never over worry about pre-season games, all about fitness really but nice to have won something, great experience for the young players who were mixed in with the more seasoned players.
Heskey still weaving his magic?
Yes, he's been prolific since joining Villa with 2 goals in 11 games... Everything I dreamt of and more! Maybe he'll burst onto the scene this season now he has had time to settle in... maybe not! If only he could put aggression together with his size he'd be a real handful.
Have you made an new signings and what's your verdict?
We've got Fabian Delph from Leeds, a 19-year-old midfielder who looks an outstanding prospect, I wasn't totally sure he'd be ready for the here and now but his performance in our pre-season win over Fiorentina suggests he'll be knocking on the door.
We have also grabbed Stewart Downing from Middlesbrough... not a bad signing I don't think and we got him for £12m instead of the often suggested £16m. Only problem the reduction is because he has a broken foot! I think he is going to be almost like an early Jan transfer window signing if that makes any sense, should be a good addition when fit.
Habib Beye from Newcastle looks a decent signing, the Newcastle ed said we've got a corker, so can't get a better recommendation than that!
Then... and I can see why other fans hate us and our big spending ways...(!) we've grabbed Andy Marshall. Sorry, I know you'll be sick with jealousy, just the way it goes I guess! No, in all honesty we needed a 3rd choice keeper just in case and that is all he is.
Gareth Barry, sad or glad to see the back of him?
I thought Barry was a great, great player for Villa. If not for him (and James Milner who was then on loan) under the last season under David O'Dearme, I am sure we'd have been relegated. Such a shame he saw fit to leave but unlike many Villa fans, I can sort of understand why. He said he'd only go for Champions League football and then jumped ship to Manchester City. Some are vitriolic about that, I just can't be bothered to feel the hate...! If I was a betting man, I'd say the way Man City have thrown money about, they have more chance than the rest of the chasing pack now of grabbing CL football ... also Barry had been with us for 11 odd years, he wanted a change, can't see that as something to hate him for. I guess you could say he was £areth £arry now for grabbing the money, but then if I was offered stupid money to do something, I'd do it, why should they be any different?! Fans are the fans, players are the employees, too many of us forget that nowadays.
Pessimistic or optimistic about the coming season for Villa?
I seriously don't know. We are due a few more signings, there are hints and rumours of a few very big signings. WE NEED THEM. We have amongst the smallest squads in the league and Martin O'Neill - as far as I can see - has no one but himself to blame for that fact. We've even recently just sold Zat Knight - who to be fair we (by we I mean MON) should never have bought, especially when he was brought in to replace Gary Cahill who we should never have sold!!!! BUT he was a body, he was ok and now he's gone and we've yet to replace him. There must be someone coming in though... there must... gulp.
As things stand I think it will be a tough season just purely down to the numbers in the squad, that said we are starting to get a few options in midfield which is a help. Where we might fall down (apart from the defence problem if we pick up any injuries) is goals. Heskey is a striker who rarely scores and is injury prone. John Carew on his day is great but he does drift off in seasons and is also injury prone. If he keeps fit, he could bang in 20 or so. Gabby is still developing and needs to push on, if he doesn't....?
I'd think we'd be up fighting for the top six spot again, I do fear we might fall just short UNLESS we get 4-5 new players in before the end of the transfer window.
What about the Latics now we have a new manager, how do you see us doing, be truthful now.
Midtable? Really can't see how you'll push on after losing a very good manager in Mr Potato Head. Suppose, as is the case with all teams, it all depends on how you folks start, a good few points on the table from the first 5-10 games and the season is set, a slow start and question marks and doubts will appear.
Most shocking thing having made the trip to Wigan in the last two seasons is the pies... folks, VERY disappointing... please sort it out for this years trip! :o)
Prediction for Saturday
I've gone through the whole gambit, a draw, a loss but .... arrgghhh! I hate the first day games, we often go with much excitement and go home with much sadness! lol. I'll go 1-0 to Villa with a prevailing wind... and in my forum I've said 1-1, so I really am covering all bases!
Good luck for the season folks, just not against Villa
Thanks for that Fear, good to talk, there is an article with my responses to some probing questions about Saturday`s game over on the Villa site click here to access
You can listen to the Latics Speyk podcasts now by clicking on the player here:
Date:Thursday August 13 2009
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