VMC's 7 Deadly Sins With Aston Villa
VMC's series of interviews with rival fans resumes with Mike Field of Vital Villa taking to the hot seat brilliantly ahead of this weekend's clash at The Etihad Stadium...
1. Welcome to Manchester again Aston Villa. The Villans arrive in town hovering perilously above the relegation zone whilst the Champions remain the only unbeaten squad in England. What's the vibe at Villa Park? Shoot!
'Shoot is a key concept, we are actually starting to carve out chances on a more regular basis now and blimey, we are actually taking some of them at the moment...our earlier cup hello to you saw us go on a run again where the form, determination and effort wasn't quite there. You assume we thought 'we'd clicked' or got slightly carried away, but whatever that was it took us until our next cup encounter before we really showed the signs of clicking that we did prior to playing you.
'Norwich really seemed to be the turning point, and we improved game on game since then, even if the United clash didn't go for us result wise. I'd expect that effort to continue at the fore when we face you, even if again, the result doesn't quite work.
'A few weeks ago, even the most confident of folks were beginning to wobble as early signs of clicking and putting together a team performance were fading, but we've come back strongly so the phrase 'perilous' might be appropriate at the moment, but the number who think that will apply next May are shrinking more and more.
'Most of us still don't see top half, but the majority of us don't expect it. We're on a proper rebuild now, but it's looking like survival won't be as bottom clenching as we thought as long as we continue this improvement, as results will eventually come.'
2. Paul Lambert. Thumbs up or Thumbs down? Already masterminded a drubbing of City in the League Cup at Fortress Etihad. Can he do it again and how do you think he's doing at the Villa controls?
'Thumbs certainly up. Both in fact, along with both big toes and...you get the idea.
'Even amongst his most loyal supporters (me included, and those of us who thought survival by a point should be celebrated this season) there are questions on selections, and especially substitutes - especially the timing of them - which do seem to have cost us in previous games. The wrong balance in midfield to suit the opposition, subs 10 minutes too late where you could see we'd be punished, and we were. But again, Lambert is still learning about the squad, seeing how they react in situations but you have to stay away from kneejerk reactions.
'Against United the disappointment was so high, some blamed a player for their winner who hadn't yet been brought on the pitch because he hadn't really performed in previous games.
'Patience is needed, mistakes need to be allowed and we are by far from a finished product.
'Everything clicked in the Cup to be honest, as it did against United and Newcastle, but obviously in the latter two the justified three points didn't follow. We need to make those performances, that grit, determination and desire our benchmark in every game.
'If we do, we'll be fine this season and more importantly we'll have a perfect bedrock to build on next summer.
'The problem is some of our youngsters aren't there yet which is to be expected given the lack of experience, so when they make a mistake, you are punished. We also have to contend with some seniors who should be stepping up to the plate, not doing it often enough.
'But the signs are good, and as somebody who saw no progress in season three under Martin O'Neill, you have no idea how happy I am to see us really trying to create an ethos at the club, a foundation for success that is applied right down to the Academy as well as the first team. It's been a long time coming, and frankly, we have to roll with the punches until that clicks. If we do, we'll be in a much better position than we ever have been since O'Neill's first season.
'I never tire of saying it, what went wrong for us was we got 6th place in O'Neill's season two. It blew the build, it glossed the foundation and we just started spending with hope.
'I hope all have learnt that lesson, and this time we do it properly.'
3. Head to Head. Where do you think City and The Villa will finish in the league and domestic cups come the days of reckoning next year?
'I'd love to say us top and you bottom, because I don't like how you have spent for the league anymore than I did Blackburn, Newcastle, Chelsea and even our attempt to break the top four.
'What I like about City though in some ways is it didn't come overnight. You really had to work and struggle to click, which gives me hope in the situation we are now in, waiting for players to gel properly.
'I'd be surprised if you didn't finish top. Chelsea seem internally torn and it's a steep curve for Di Matteo. Man United's squad has to be the worst I have ever seen it, Arsenal as ever just tread ground...but look bloody good doing it, and whilst I admire what Rogers is doing at Liverpool because I again can see parellels with Villa, Liverpool constantly live on their history anyway.
'I thought Spurs might be the surprise package, but again they have their own problems, and every time Everton seem to gain, they lose somebody as well.
'I just don't see anybody having the consistency that you'll have by the time the league ends.
'West Ham certainly won't be up there, and I'll streak at The Hawthorns if the Albion are. (Well I won't, I wouldn't even wish that sight on the Boingers!)
'As for us, I honestly don't care, I've said all along I'll take anything this time round from 14-17. Any higher than 14 would be brilliant. As long as we stay up that's all that matters this term.
'Cup wise, well you aren't going to go far in one of them. But I'd imagine your interests this season will see the domestic cups glossed over so you can maintain the run on the league and Champions League interests.
'For us, the cups are our only real hope of success this year and as we've seen so far we have bounced after cup wins, so long may that continue. I'd be delighted with either of them, as long as in both cup runs fouls in the penalty box see the opposition get a red card.'
4. 'Shot by both sides:' The Dangermen. Who should City and also The Villa be paying closest attention to at The Etihad on Saturday?
'I feel like I should go for your big men, RentaTelli and Shrek's brother. But I'm more worried about Silva, his vision for a pass and ability to ghost into positions I think will cause problems. My worry is he'll sit back in the game and make himself anonymous, and just wait for his chance.
'As for us, you have to watch Benteke and Weimann. And somewhat, but not on the same calibre (although I live in hope he might be one day) Bannan doing the same as Silva, but in Bannan's case he drives constantly, he needs to learn to calm down and pick the time and place.
'In some ways I've probably picked the three most similar players on both sides there, although granted, your three have more experience.'
5. For some brainwashed reason I feel compelled to ask this. What do you make of Mario Balotelli and the media circus that surrounds him?
'Am I allowed to claim the same brainwashed feeling to answer?
I love the idiot. I don't like his petulance and his arrogance, because more often than not that is how he comes across, especially as portrayed in the media. The 'why always me' t-shirt etc, when it wasn't.
'But we all know the truth about the fireworks in the kitchen, the throwing £50 notes around whilst driving, but I love his disappointment in himself when he knows he should've done better...punching the ground.
'He's a character, and there aren't enough in football anymore. He's passionate, yes spoilt, but don't blame him, blame football that gives him that wage upfront, organise wages better for pensions, investments (sensible not stock market!) etc to help young players on huge wages relate to life better.
'I played school football, won the league (yay me - not on my own, I wasn't that good) but can I relate to his annoyance on being subbed which is where most of his media antics come from...oh yes. And I defy anybody to disagree even if they weren't so vocal themselves at the point. If as a schoolboy I'd have been on £50K plus a week, I'm sure I'd have been more likely to vent my frustration as well.
'And everything else aside, given Villa have our own Darren Bent media circus going on, do you really want a player happy to sit on the bench, or happy to be subbed?
'The press exist to sell papers. The internet is a threat. Does anyone believe 100% what they read in the papers anymore? Maybe the only truism is, build them up, to knock them down.
'Our tabloids especially are good at that.'
6. Since we last asked you this question, when your response was undecided, The Blues have become Champions of England. Are City guilty of ruining football and would you agree there is a 'Get City' campaign intensifying amongst certain hacks?
'You've a better memory than me!
'But I've tracked it down if anybody wants to see how I might have contradicted myself in other ways :-)
VMC's Seven Deadly Sins with A Villan
'I wouldn't call yes and no, undecided. You didn't start it, but you certainly didn't help - but as above, there's some relief in the fact it did take your millionnaires so long to click on the pitch, so in some way you can argue once it clicked you earnt it.
'I don't think there is a 'Get City' campaign going at the moment though to be honest. But their is definitely a focus on reigning in the irresponsible spending without consequence that we have seen over the years.
'At Villa we have really seen the consequence of living beyond your means, but for the likes of City, that's not a consequence you will suffer unless your owners walk away. Same as Chelsea really, same as Man United who are in more debt because of their owners takeover than they'd be otherwise.
'Maybe it's the socialist coming out in me, but the idea that football clubs paying over 80K to players a week but registering a loss each season, when charging their fans ridiculous amounts of money to watch them for 90 minutes, might be doing something wrong?
'The fact that is fair comment proves there's something ruined about our game.
'Football is supposed to be about the fans, and I rue the day it stopped being so. I used to enjoy watching David White - if memory serves - far more than I do your Argentinian pug.'
7. And so to battle. Your match prediction?
'I would take 1-1. But I think you'll do us 3-1. As long as we perform though and push you, I won't have a complaint.'
- Very many thanks and much respect going out to Mike and the Vital Villa team.
Click Here To Read Villa's Q&A With VMC's Lorna Silva
all times East Manchester
Sa 17 Nov 15h00 Aston Villa, The Etihad, PL
We 21 Nov 19h45 Real Madrid, The Etihad, CL
Su 25 Nov 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, PL
We 28 Nov 20h00 Wigan, DW Stadium, PL
Sa 01Dec 15h00 Everton, The Etihad, PL
Tu 04Dec 19h45 B Dortmund, Signal Iduna Park, CL
Su 09Dec 13h30 The rags, The Etihad, PL
Sa 15Dec 12h45 Newcastle, St James' Park, PL
Sa 22Dec 15h00 Reading, The Etihad, PL
We 26Dec 15h00 Sunderland, Stadium of Light, PL
Sa 29Dec 15h00 Norwich, Carrow Road, PL