Interview with a Villan
Thanks once again to our Villa Editor - Jonathan Fear - who provided us with a Villan's perspective on the weekend's game:
RM: First off - Saturday`s game - how brassed off must you be with Gerrard`s free kick?! Overall how did you rate your first taste of Villa in competitive action this season?
JF: To be fair, as positive as I wanted to be, I couldn't really see us beating Liverpool unless they had an off day and we were 100% bang on. If Liverpool had remembered to take their shooting boots with them, they might well have won by a slightly larger margin although our stand in keeper Stuart Taylor can also take some praise there, as can Craig Gardner who took one in the, ahem 'middle ground' to block a sure goal. Ouch! It was unfortunate that we lost to an own goal and a world class free kick from a 'foul' that should never have been given. That said, despite our effort and endeavour, Liverpool were - if I am being totally honest - probably worthy of the win. Just wish the ref hadn't messed up so much, I prefer to lose to superb goals, not foolish ref decisions!
RM: About your squad - what`s going on there? Surely you`d have expected Mr O`Neill to come up with a few more moves to fill the gaps?
JF: Million pound question. There is a lot of talk amongst Villa fans about this, some have faith and say he knows what he is doing, others are angry that we started the season with no goalkeeper on the bench and no recognised right back. He did complain last season that the squad was too small and now he has made is smaller. I want to have faith but I can't see for the life of me why he allowed players to leave before having replacements in and with the mega money that is available, I am still shocked that Marlon Harewood was all he could come up with for our striker options. Some say I'm (and others) are negative for saying this sort of stuff but 19 players + one loanee isn't enough to get us through the season.
RM: In terms of expectations how are you expecting Villa to get on this season?
JF: If no more players arrive, around 10th and IF injuries are kind to us, maybe pushing slightly higher and in the shame for a Uefa Cup spot. If we do bring in 3 or 4 more, then we should be in the mix without doubt.
RM: Who will be your key movers and shakers this year?
JF: Gareth Barry is our main man and if Martin Laursen can stay fit, he'll prove his class. On his day there isn't a better centre back in the Premiership, you don't get to play for AC Milan without being class. It will also be interesting to see how Ashley Young and John Carew settle and fit in. We need goals! I also rate Luke Moore, he scored most of our pre-season goals and as far as I can see was very unlucky to be dropped to the bench in favour of Gabby Agbonlahor, but then, I'm not the manager!
RM: Overall what are your memories of Villa v Newcastle. On a personal level I can`t look past the Bowyer v Dyer on pitch brawl!
JF: I remember an almighty Save Milosovic miss at Villa Park. He was clean through with only the keeper to beat and shot about 3 miles wide! The Bowyer Dyer brawl was also good, I think there should be more of that sort of entertainment, you can't beat footballers fighting, talk about handbags at dawn! I must admit, during the Keegan years, I loved watching the Magpies, I lived up in Newcastle for a while and love the area and passion for football there. Women aren't too shabby either!
RM: What`s your take on Big Sam and what he`s been doing with the squad so far?
JF: Really interested to see what he does. I don't think he'll have you playing the pretty attacking football that you all like to watch BUT I think he can make you top six and maybe if the new owners do back him financially, start to turn you once again into contenders. An article on my Villa site pointed out Sven, Big Sam, Martin O'Neill and possibly Alan Curbishley as all being in the same boat, big clubs, big money owners. So we'll see who is the best come the end of the season!
RM: How do you see Newcastle getting on this season?
JF: With Big Sam at the helm, you might get top six but I'm sure you'll agree, your players have to find more consistency.
RM: From a Villa perspective who do you see as our dangerman/men this weekend?
JF: Mark Verruca (!) is always a danger and I think Shay Given is a mighty fine keeper. Hopefully Nobby doesn't play, I hated the way the spoilt brat left Villa. There are ways to go about things and the way he conducted himself was pathetic!
RM: Is it true Randy Lerner has a Villa tattoo now?
JF: Yes, the man is quality! He has a lion tattoo! I was lucky enough to speak to him and he is so down to earth it is amazing, he is also well versed in the heritage at the club and wants so much to push us forward. Another reason I can't understand the way Martin O'Neill has acted. There again, the man paid the most at any club is the one who has his job most on the line, he has to bring the results otherwise I'm sure there will be no shortage of managers who would step in. Hopefully O'Neill will be able to build an empire, but he does need to start by buying a few players first!!!
RM: Finally - what`s your score prediction for Saturday?
JF: I honestly don't know at the moment. Newcastle looked good last weekend and at St James Park you are always tough to beat. I think it is difficult to judge Villa on a performance against a team who will be top four again this season, not to mention the fact John Carew and Martin Laursen both had a virus. I think this game v you guys will be far better a marker. It might sound negative but I'd take a draw at your gaff and then a win when you come down to Villa Park. So, 1-1.
Thanks again to Jon for all his help putting this together.