Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday November 3 2006
1) So how is your league season shaping up so far?
The usual early season blip didn`t help but we recovered well. 12 points from 10 games maybe isn`t a true reflection of what we maybe should have had though, but hey fans always feel this don`t they, but I do pride myself on my honest approach!
2) Well done so far in Europe, is Mark Hughes the man to take Blackburn forward and what, realistically, do Rovers fans expect achievement wise?
Thanks, it has been a fantastic start to our European campaign, arguably exceeding what we might have expected at this point, but I`m not complaining.
Sparky is definitely the man and is performing a superb job, turning a struggling relegation threatened side into a top six club! A top six finish again this season in my opinion would better last season`s achievement as there are as many as six teams (maybe more!) that will be fighting it out for 5th and 6th place, including Villa!
If Sparky can give us a great UEFA Cup run (which I think he will as he has already) along with a good FA Cup run and finish in the top 8 at least it will be a very good season. I`ve got this sneaky feeling about the UEFA Cup you know, think we could do it, if not it will be one of the other British sides…
Overall before Sparky moves on to a "bigger club" (which he will we are realistic enough to know this) maintaining Rovers in the top six, pushing on for Champions League qualification and challenging for domestic Cup (and hopefully European!) honours under Sparky is a realistic target. We HAVE to get into Europe again next season though that is a must for the immediate future…
3) Which Blackburn player should Villa fear this weekend and is Lilly Savage going to be fit (for what I'll leave with you!)?
You should fear them all! I`m afraid to say that Savage will be out, and will be for around a month. I`m sure Martin O`Neill will be thrilled as he knows all about him.
I don`t think Villa will give Tugay the time on the ball he sometimes gets in Europe, but even so he`ll be a threat. Benni McCarthy is a livewire and David Bentley is in fantastic form this season but I`d say watch out for Morten Gamst Pedersen. He looked on form against FC Basel so maybe he has finally found that form and class we all know he has.
4) Which Villa player do you fear?
Again I`d say all of them as Martin O`Neill has got you guys going. You have a lot of talented youngsters mixed in with some experienced players which is working well. Gabriel Agbonlahor is looking a handful and I like the look of the guy, VERY promising talent so we have to watch him.
But I`m going for Gareth Barry, I love the guy think he is the best left sided player in the country at the moment, without question one of the best, if not the best English left sided player for many years. McLaren get your head out of your arse and get him back in the England squad at least!
I am worried that Chris Sutton may come back to haunt us though, even more worried that a man we turned away after a trial Didier Agathe will supply a cross for him to open his account!
5) What is your opinion of Aston Villa?
Sleeping giant is over used in football, but Villa are that. The potential the club has is unreal. Very good side who play very good football, very good fans and in a very good area, all the ingredients needed to make a top club. Villa have had a difficult time since the days of challenging for the Title in the early 1990`s but things will change.
If they maintain their current form and if O`Neill is given some cash in January for new signings (to bring in the rest of the Celtic side, only joking!) then top six in my opinion will be achieved and you`ll join Rovers as defending Champions (hopefully!) in the UEFA Cup next season.
6) What is your opinion of Martin O'Neill?
Fantastic, great character lives for the game a plays every second from the touchline. If we didn`t have Sparky I`d take O`Neill any day of the week. But hey less I forget he`s also a superb manager! He can get the best out of people who were maybe struggling before as has been proved with what he`s done so far with you guys. With virtually the same players as last season he has transformed Villa.
He`s the man I wanted for the England job but he wouldn`t conform to the FA`s "yes man" approach they wanted would he. England missed out on one of the greatest English managers in all time when they overlooked Brian Clough for similar reasons; think they may have done the same by overlooking O`Neil.
7) If there was one Villa player you could swap with one Blackburn player, who would you take and who would we get!?
As I`ve said you have a lot of talented youngsters, and most encouraging they are mostly, if not all home nations players so I maybe wouldn`t mind some of them.
Although we have a superb left sided player ourselves in Morten Gamst Pedersen I`d take Barry any day of the week. His delivery from that left foot is spot on almost every time; his shooting with his right isn`t too bad either. Guess we could use Barry at left-back when Lucas Neill leaves, Pedersen and Barry what a combination!
Who would I let go… I would happily let a few go if for nothing else but to get them off the wage bill but as not to offend any of the current first team playing squad I`ll have to go for Dominic Matteo, sorry Dom! He`s not going to get a look in this season, has been a top performer but his time has come and his money NEEDS to be cut from the bill.
8) What is your match prediction for Sunday?
It`s a really tough game with you winning three and drawing two of your five home Premiership games this season, with only the one Premiership, or Cup defeat for that matter (coming at Anfield recently) so this will be very tough.
Villa are a much different side under O`Neill so with Rovers coming into this game off the back of two straight Premiership defeats despite the confidence boost of the 3-0 UEFA Cup win a point will represent a very good point for Rovers.
I think both will score at least once so I`m going for a 2-2, maybe even a thrilling 3-3 draw! Will probably be a 0-0 bore draw now…
Date:Friday November 3 2006
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