Writer: J P Fear
Date:Saturday October 28 2006
Mr Vital Liverpool has done an interview for us ahead of today's game.
1) How has your season been so far, seems Liverpool are poor starters these days?
Well I think its been pretty much well documented by now, that we have made a pretty poor start and everyone is feeling very disappointed. We certainly weren't helped by having a very tough set of opening fixtures but nevertheless, we still should have taken more points from those games then we currently have but we just haven't performed any near the level that we are capable of.
2) Do you think you've blown any chance of winning the league already as some of the pundits are saying?
I don't pay a lot of attention to pundits. Most of them are failed managers or ex players who've never managed, so their opinions hold little value to me. I'm more interested in what the fans have to say, they are the real experts and that's why I got involved with the Vital Network. That said, a lot of our fans still believe we can do it and I hope they're right. You can never discount anything in football but personally, I can't see it happening for us this season.We've given ourselves too much of a mountain to climb. All we can do now is take one match at a time and try to put ourselves in a position to take advantage of any slip-ups.
3) Is Rafa the right man for Liverpool?
Absolutely. I'm a big fan of his and he has already brought a lot of success. In just two seasons in charge we've won a Champions League, an FA Cup, a Super Cup and a Community Shield, and also got to the final of the Carling Cup and World Club Championship so that's not a bad haul by anyone's standards. Some of his decisions, particularly in regard to squad rotation are being questioned by the so-called 'expert' pundits because we've made a poor start to the season. They mention the fact that he has rotated the side for 98 consecutive game but conveniently forget to mention that all of the success I mentioned earlier, was achieved during those 98 games and I don't remember them having a lot to say about it back then! Rafa is a firm believer in squad rotation and has enjoyed great success with it at both Liverpool and Valencia (two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup), so I think he is right to continue to do things his way and the hell with what the pundits think. Some of the senior players just haven't performed for us so far this season and they seem to be getting away very lightly, for me this is the biggest reason behind our poor start and its about time they pulled their socks up.
4) Are Liverpool definitely leaving Anfield now? If so when and what do you think of that?
It's sad but unfortunately it has to happen. We can barely get 42,000 into a full house at Anfield and we saw the record attendance of 75,000 in our game last week at Old Trafford. With that kind of revenue, we just cannot compete with them financially at the moment. We must move to a bigger stadium for the future of the club, its as simple as that. Although it will be a very sad day when we finally say goodbye to Anfield, the fans have accepted this will happen and we certainly have enough support to fill a bigger stadium. If anything, the fans are more frustrated at the fact that it is taking so long. The plans for our move to a new stadium got underway at the same time as Arsenal and yet theirs is now completed and we haven't even turned a sod on ours yet.The board really need to get this sorted out.
5) Who should Villa fear in your team this weekend?
After the mauling we have gotten from the media in the past week, I would hope they will all be feeling like wounded lions at the moment and be eager to work their frustrations out on Villa. However, I'll give you three candidates to look out for. Our captain Steven Gerrard just hasn't got going so far this season and he also hasn't managed to score, so we are certainly overdue a big performance and a goal from him, maybe he'll put that right tomorrow. Dirk Kuyt's father was suffering from cancer and it was looking pretty bad for him not too long ago, but he managed to fight back against it and is making his first trip to Anfield tomorrow to watch his son in action. Needless to say Kuyt is over the moon and he will be very keen to put on a big display in front of his dad tomorrow. And as a bit of a dark horse, I'd say Robbie Fowler. He captained the side in midweek and opened the scoring with a superb chip over the Reading keeper and also set up Crouch for what proved to be the winner. He may well have played his way into Rafa's plans tomorrow and if given the chance he'll be keen to impress.
6) Who do you fear in the Villa team?
I suppose I should pick one of your strikers and of course, we are all too aware of what Baros can do if he is given time and space. But to be honest, when I watch Villa these days I see more of a solid team then a collection of individuals and that's what I fear most. I think the pressure is all on us tomorrow and we simply have to beat you. We will need to dictate the pace of the game and find a way to break you down and I've no doubt that we will go at you at 100 miles an hour in the early stages, but if you can frustrate us in our efforts and gradually get control of the ball, then we could be in trouble.
7) If you could swap one player who would you have from Villa and who would you send to us!?
Definitely Gareth Barry. I've always been a fan of his and think he is one of the most under-rated players in the game. It seems no matter how good a player is, its who you play for that counts most when it comes to international recognition. I've no doubts Barry would be a regular in the England side, if he was playing for one of the 'big' four.
8) What do you think of Martin O'Neill and how do you view Aston Villa?
You've got to hand to O'Neill, he seems to be a real miracle worker and brings success wherever he goes. It's hard to believe that he has Villa playing so well with virtually the same squad you had last season. I've always suspected that David O'Leary was one of the most over-rated managers in the game and O'Neill's work with the side so far has all but proven that. I think Villa will be up around the top six this season if they stir clear of injuries because I have my doubts about the depth of strength in your squad. I think things will improve further you next season, when O'Neill gets to bring in some players next summer and has a full pre-season to work with the side.
9) What do you think the score will be this weekend?
I think Liverpool will be really fired up for this one and with a packed Anfield behind us, I fancy a 2-0 win for the Reds.
Thanks to Gerry Ormonde at Vital Liverpool
Date:Saturday October 28 2006
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