Magnificent Seven Pre Match Interview: Aston Villa
1. We have ignition. The Premier League is ready for take off again. Aston Villa to reach for the stars this season?
I certainly feel with the recent purchases we can once again push the top four, we were within reach for a good time last season and only a lack of strength in depth prevented us making it a real race to the end. We scored 71 goals last season but let too many in, we now have a solid back four and a great leader in Brad Friedel in between the posts. If we can add another midfielder and certainly a strong striker who could push 20 goals, then the stars might just be attainable. Most importantly, many Villa fans are back to enjoying the ride instead of the doom and gloom that surrounded the club in the final years of Dougy boy and David O'dearme.
2. How's the transfer business going?
Well, if you'd asked a few weeks ago I'd have said terribly, but now I'll say very well thank you very much! Oh, and there are more promised. The signing of Carlos Cuellar from Rangers could prove a very canny signing and we have also brought in a young MLS and USA international keeper called Brad Guzan who is highly rated and will learn a lot from Friedel. Add that to Nicky Shorey, Luke Young and the permanent signing of Curtis Davies and I'd say we are pretty much sorted at the back. Now for up front!
3. Here come Manchester City. Smell the fear or relax with a beer?
Difficult to tell with Manchester City isn't it? You started fantastically last season but now - if press stories and internet whispers are to be believed - seem to be in disarray again. I think Mark Hughes is a decent enough manager although if you are going to start this changing manager every season business, you'll never succeed. Man City are like Villa, Spurs and Everton, teams that can be huge and can challenge the top four IF they get their act together. At present I'd say Everton have too much debt and you are nowhere near having your act together. Still would never relax when playing you, I thought we should have won the away game against you guys last season but we didn't take our chances and that was it, 3 points lost.
4. Who of Manchester City's relatively small squad would you love to see in a Villa shirt and who would you like to send us in a part ex?
I'd have said Micah Richards but we appear to be sorted in defence now. Michael Johnson has been linked a few times, so maybe we'll take him or new signing Jo (who I must admit I know very little about other than his name is too short!) I'd let you have Zat Knight in part exchange, I'm like that, over generous and extremley kind.
5. YOU are the new Premier League Chief Executive. You have been granted three measures / ideas which will go unopposed by all 20 clubs to improve the top flight game in England. Choose them wisely....
Great, always wanted to be the boss, you don't mention what my wages are though, I don't come cheap you know? (As the actress said to the bishop).
1) I would have a very strong 'fit and proper' test for new owners and that would include not allowing owners to buy clubs by putting huge debt on the clubs. Your guy would not have got past me I'm afraid!
2) I would introduce a few rugby rules in line with refereeing. ie what the ref says goes, NO arguing and if a point has to be made to the ref it is made by the captain only. All this chasing the ref around shouting and moaning drives me mad and if I had my way I'd just show a red card to every player arguing, it would soon shut them up. I'd also have the goal line technology straight away, I don't think it would spoil the flow of the game and like in rugby, would add some excitement + mean there would be far fewer wrong decisions.
3) I would line up against the wall and shoot anyone who mentions the 39th game OR any other whacky idea that the greedy money mad men running the game will no doubt try to get passed us all and bring back a bit of respect to the fans - hey, maybe we could even be trusted to be allowed to keep the bottle tops when purchased at the ground! Oh, sorry you have me on a roll, would also stop the stupid license fees for our websites to show fixtures, it disgusts me that fans can't publish the fixtures which are basically adverts for the games we pay our hard earnt money to see!
Sorry you asked now I bet!?!
6. Whenever I watch Villa I find my eyes drawn to the touchline to watch the mildly unsettling hatstand lunacy of Martin O'Neill. What's all that about then and is he the man to bring you a trophy?
I sit right be him at Villa Park, he is fascinating to watch. It certainly is not a healthy way to make a living, he feels every miss, kicks every ball, and looks like he is going to explode at every wrong decision by the ref. He is also entertaining when interviewed, although I'm not always sure what he is saying, I'm not sure he is sure either!
I want to believe he is the man to bring success to the club. He has a lot to do still but has made strides and is building for the future, not just for the now. I do think he left us somewhat exposed last season with numbers but that looks like it is now being addressed. We had a manager-merry-go-round for years under the previous regime, I think with the new guys in charge we won't see that and my personal opinion is MON would walk if he didn't think he could do it at any point. We've gone from 11th to 6th, so I would imagine this season we'll end up 1st. That is how football works isn't it?!?!? Certainly a massive season for Villa and there are massive expectations on the club, team and manager. Hopefully they'll match these expectations, it is all set up very nicely to do so.
7. Go on then. Sunday's result?
Hate predictions, every time I'm positive we seem to get stung.... BUT on a positive note to the start of the season and the fact we will be more match fit due to the Intertwobob games, I'll go 2-1 to the mighty claret and blues.