1) Is it more fun being a Villa fan this season?
Totally, the fun is back and there is a real buzz going down to Villa Park these days. As if getting Martin O’Neill wasn’t enough, we also saw Doug Ellis sail into the blue yonder (he bought a new yacht with his ill gotten gains!) and a quality new owner take his place.
The promise for the future really is bright again, Villa can once again start competing, although there is obviously a great deal of work to do to challenge the top four, at least we now have a chance again.
2) How has Martin O’Neil settled in? Is he the right man for the job?
Martin O’Neill can do at Villa what Brian Clough did at Nottingham Forest. He is building on a platform that is already there, although a few generations of fans don’t remember the achievements of Villa, we are a big club and can challenge for silverware. I think O’Neill could become a Villa hero.
He certainly seems to have warmed to the fans, he was taken aback at the reception he got when he came for the press conference and already feels like a Villa man through and through. The last incumbent couldn’t claim the same, David O’Leary simply never ‘felt’ like a Villa manager.
3) What are the fans opinions of Randy Lerner?
In general fans seem excited and delighted, there are some who will quite understandably sit on the fence and wait to see but he has started so well, re-developing our training ground (a project on hold under Doug), paying for the transport for Villa fans to get to the Chelsea cup game, restoring our famous old Holte Hotel pub are all great ways to get started! I was talking to someone involved in a lot of football deals yesterday, he said we’ve got the pick of the bunch as far as investors are concerned and was using the expression ‘doing a Lerner’ when it came to others making decisions. The man seems to be a total gent and has some money as well, that never hurts! I was lucky enough to have a chat with him and he was excited about the prospects of turning Villa round as many of us fans, so hopefully this chapter in our history will be far more exciting for all concerned.
4) What can Villa achieve, realistically, over the coming seasons?
Short term there is no reason why we can’t target Champions League qualification and ‘expect’ at least Uefa Cup qualification (both possibly but possibly too early this season, all will depend on January spending, Uefa might be realistic at a push). In the medium term there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to compete with all comers, seriously, Villa have done it before and we can do it again. Not an easy task to break into the top four but historically we were part of the top four, so why not again?
5) Who are the players that have impressed you in a Villa shirt so far this season?
Gareth Barry is consistently superb, I really rate this guy and he is quite rightly the Villa skipper. Gabriel Agbonlahor has done superbly for us, I’m sure he didn’t expect such a run in the team and has great pace and skill. Although I think opponent defenders are getting wiser to him now, he could be a real star for Villa. Chris Sutton is also battling away and causing problems for the opposition, he was a great short term signing. I also think Olof Mellberg has put in some great performances although at the moment he is being played at right back out of necessity but he is definitely better in the centre.
6) Do you have any particular memories of Villa-Bolton games?
A few nightmares with your battling style! Bolton is always a great battle and I enjoy these sort of games although hopefully we’ll not end up with two draws like last season, from memory the first game of last season started fairly brightly with four goals in the first 9 minutes or so!
7) Which Bolton players would you like to see in a Villa shirt?
Anelka, I know he has problems and is a sulky bugger who moves clubs too often, but a settled Anelka would be an awesome player.
8) Any opinions on Big Sam?
I like Big Sam, think he is a quality manager who brings out the best in players everyone else has written off. I think he might well have taken Bolton as far as he can, I did get a whisper that he’d have liked the Villa job as a fresh challenge, but it will be interesting to see what he can achieve for Bolton. Have to be honest, I think the FA were off their heads not making him the England manager. Steve McClaren? FFS!!!!
9) Predictions for the game this weekend?
Last season I’d have told you to take the points and not bother to turn up, this season, despite injury worries (especially in the keeper area) I think we can look for all three points, although with our speciality being draws, I’d not write that off either. I think the same as you, there will probably be only one goal in it, I reckon that goal will be to Villa!
With thanks to the Vital Villa Editor, JP Fear.
A View from Villa Park
1) Is it more fun being a Villa fan this season?