Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday April 5 2007
1) Blackburn seemed to be fighting for Europe a few weeks ago but have slipped up, what has gone wrong and are you still in contention?
For me what has gone wrong is we CAN’T beat the teams that we should! As usual we slipped up when we faced the Hammered in an almost three point home banker. We just can’t seem to beat teams in the lower reaches when we desperately have to. The fact that we were robbed by another SHOCKING call for the Hammered’s second goal didn’t help. Another thing that has gone wrong is the fact that we had to face a rampant Manchester United side hell bent on winning the Title!
Our run-in is pretty favourable so we still have a chance, but our chances realistically hinge on others (Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, maybe even Reading and Portsmouth) slipping up more so than our own form. Europe via the FA Cup, that’s a different story…
2) You said back in November 'Sparky is definitely the man and is performing a superb job' still the case? Any criticisms this season?
I still VERY much rate Sparky, think he will go onto be one of Britain’s, if not Europe’s top managers. Some have questioned him recently but I still find it hard to do so, he’s transformed the team and brought in so much quality (Ryan Nelsen, David Bentley, Benni McCarthy, Stephen Warnock and Christopher Samba to name but a few) without spending much at all.
Like all fans you have to be critical of your team at times, so maybe for me we sit back too much against the big boys, hoping to soak up ALL the pressure without cracking. With the Admiral (Ryan Nelsen) and the Wall (Christopher “the Beast” Samba) at the heart of the defence we can soak up a lot but also have to be a little more adventurous attacking wise at times I feel, that said we tried this against Arsenal and got stuffed 6-2!
3) When I asked you who Villa should fear, you mentioned Tugay, Benni McCarthy, David Bentley but highlighted Morten Gamst Pedersen as the real threat. Any changes having seen them play all season or are they all performing well still?
Tugay has tailed off somewhat, the Maestro still has the class about him and can pick out the ball to open up any defence but he is missing Savage doing the donkey work in midfield. As hard as the Axe (Aaron Mokoena) tires he just isn’t Sav! Benni McCarthy is a threat but he just doesn’t quite seem at the races recently, I’m VERY worried he’ll do a Craig Bellamy on us?!?! Morten Gamst Pedersen had a shocking start to the season but came VERY good, is having a quiet time at the moment but still a real danger. David Bentley has had a fantastic season, how he isn’t in the England set-up I’ll never know.
Villa should watch out for Matt Derbyshire, this kid is something special and WILL go onto be one of the best, reminds me a lot of Gary Lineker. WHAT an impact he has made this season. I had been harping on about him LONG before he got a chance and how he has taken it. A local lad usually has a MASSIVE impact, as you at Villa know.
For me though, Stephen Warnock has arguably been the signing of the January transfer window, Rovers or otherwise, WHAT a talent he is. No wonder Sparky tracked him for so long. He’ll make at least one 60-70 yard charge and the ball seems like it is stuck to his foot. He can attack and defend, the complete full-back. Lucas Neill, a shadow of the player Stevie W is, and will be…
4) The player you most feared when coming to Villa Park was Gareth Barry, who do you fear the most now in the Villa team?
Would have to retain Gareth Barry, much like Bents how he isn’t one of the first names selected for the England squad I don’t know. How players like Phil Neville and Jamie Carragher can be viewed as a better option than him as a LEFT-BACK is beyond me. As good as he is Wayne Bridge at Chelsea for that matter! If he doesn’t play for Chelsea how can he be involved?!?!
The Hulk (John Carew for any Rovers who didn’t know?) will be a danger. I can’t wait to see the Hulk come up against the Wall!!! Land of the giants or what!
5) You said 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'. You surprised where we are in the league and do you think the manager should be getting the criticism that seems to be rising amongst pundits and even some Villa fans?
O’Neill calls a spade a spade doesn’t he, no pussy footing around with him, honest and genuine, which is EXACTLY what you want.
I have to admit I am a little surprised to see Villa struggling at the wrong end of the table, that said though a couple of wins and you move right up. Things take time to build so judging O’Neill now is certainly wrong for me. Look at things next season, if things don’t change then a change will be made!
It’s easy to jump on the “Scottish Football is rubbish” bandwagon so it’s easy to win a Title, or two, or more if you manage Celtic or Glasgow Rangers, hence the reason he was so successful but this doesn’t fit with me. O’Neill performed with Wycombe Wanderers then worked miracles with Leicester City (the dramatic change in fortunes since he left tells you something!) so is proven in this country and WILL achieve with Villa next season, once he can bring in more players that he wants and get rid of those he doesn’t.
6) I suggested Blackburn were over physical and in your words 'brutal, rugby league, beat ‘em up.' Why do you think I was so wrong with that accusation?
I won’t deny that we can be physical, but overly so not for me even with any bias I may show! A physical approach is in some player’s nature, and some of ours are a little over eager so they appear worse than they are.
This tag remains largely from the early days of Sparky’s reign, which was VERY brutal but hey we were literally fighting for our Premiership lives and needs must! The fact that we have the ability to hold teams at bay and frustrate them often leads to this label coming up again and often leads to the (again biased views aside!) free flowing, quality passing game we often now play, with players that CAN play, going unnoticed.
7) You predicted 2-2 back in November. I said 1-0 we won 2-0. So I'm in the lead, what is your prediction for the Ewood Park clash?
We generally win or lose at home, we don’t draw many. Villa usually lose or draw away (you’ve only won once on the road this season haven’t you?) so a draw does seem a good bet but as I say with the fact we don’t draw at home, only have two all season (four in total, home and away!) I think we’ll see a winner.
As I mentioned earlier our record against the teams at the wrong end has been poor this season, this will be viewed as a game we should win so we’ll probably lose! We NEED to recover from the Hammered defeat last time a morale boosting victory ahead of the FA Cup Semi Final with Chelsea would come in handy. I’ll not predict a score, but I think Rovers will win though. I’m looking to even it up at one each…
With thanks to the mighty fine Hughes Da Man.
My interview on the Blackburn site: Click Here
Date:Thursday April 5 2007
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