Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday September 28 2006
So how have you started this season and do you see Chelsea being run away winners of the league again?
Although we`ve won our last six games, in all competitions, we`re not exactly playing sparkling football. Perhaps Mourinho was right when he suggested that it would take until October for those who played in the World Cup to gel again at club level and reach top form. Nevertheless, we`re looking solid and the team spirit remains as superb as ever.
What do you think of your new signings from the summer and do you not think the way you are buying everyone and benching half of them isn't a bit against the spirit of the game?
It`s a strange one. Our squad size this season is actually a lot smaller than last year. When you view our squad against the oppositions in the match programme the opposition invariably have a longer list of players. We shipped seven or eight out and only bought in four. Out of the four Ballack and Sheva are world class whilst Kalou and Mikel are youngsters for the future. I think it`s a bit early to decide on how they`ve done, especially with Ballack being suspended but I`m sure they`ll be worthy acquisitions. As for the benching aspect, I feel for Wright-Phillips. This was supposed to be his year but even with Joe Cole and Arjen Robben injured he still hasn`t made an impact.
Do you think Abramovich is in this for the long term and just how much has he done to connect with the fans?
If you read the reports, everyone is just waiting for him to become bored but thankfully, for us, he appears to be in it for the long term. Already there is talk that he`ll hand the club over to his son, Arkady, in the future, although Arkady is only twelve at the moment. Roman is how an owner should be, respected by the fans and lets the team he`s hired get on with the job. Having had the pleasure of meeting him he`s also a very quiet and humble person who does understand quite a lot of English.
Has Mourinho calmed down or is he still camping up his reputation as a bit of a sulk in the press? Can you see him staying long term at Stamford Bridge?
Rumours suggest this could be his last season if we don`t win the Champions League there again if we do win it he may decide to seek a fresh challenge. He`ll never change, he`s the Josč we all love. Wears his heart on his sleeve and despite what some think, is very articulate in manipulating the media.
What do you think of Martin O'Neill, were you surprised he came to Villa?
I love the man. He was my favourite pundit at the World Cup. Also, when his Leicester side were beaten by a penalty in a FA Cup match he had the temerity to stand up and rile Ken Bates. I was surprised when he left Celtic but when the reasons became known it seemed the thing to do. I guess he was waiting for the chance to return to football at a big club. Do they come much bigger than an ex-European Cup winner?
Villa were historically always up amongst the top six, do you think with new money we'll be back up there again and is that a good thing?
I hope your new owner can turn things around, Britain`s second city should be at the forefront of the national game. I think the domestic game would benefit from a resurgent Aston Villa, a relatively fresh face in the top six is always welcome.
Villa have been told by the FA that they can't have a star above their badge next season (our 25th anniversary of winning the European Cup). What do you think of the FA and the petty way they seem to run the game?
No star! Disgraceful. I sometimes wonder about the FA? Perhaps Ken Bates was right in his continual criticism of them. Some of the decisions they make are absurd especially the Sven contract whereby he`s still being paid yonks after he quit. Soho Square needs a major shake-up!
Which Chelsea player should we fear?
Didier Drogba - He`s on fire. He`s cut out the antics, knuckled down and is now on the verge of becoming the striker we all hoped he would. He`s even chasing back to win possession when the ball has been lost something he`d never have done twelve months ago.
Do you fear any of the Villa players?
Angel! I recall he missed a couple of sitters against us a few seasons back. I just have this nagging feeling we won`t be so lucky if he gets the opportunity this time. We can be suspect to crosses and the way he despatched that header against Scunthorpe was classy.
Come on then, what result do you predict?
My crystal ball predicts a close game but Villa will lose 2-1.
For the interview I did for Chelsea: Click Here
Date:Thursday September 28 2006
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