Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday October 25 2012
Well this weekend will be tasty, the first visit of Norwich for Paul Lambert, made even more spicy by their chairman blabbing about the legal issues that remain. Well it's just not cricket is it!
With thanks to Savvy_Monkey (who was certainly a cheeky one with his questions) and Vital Norwich.
1) What are you expecting from the season?
I'm expecting a tough time - we were always going to struggle. Momentum is a huge thing in football/sport and it felt like we peaked last season. However, just need to survive and then we can build the club up some more. I think we'll be OK, but only just.
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
We had a good pre-season, picked up some good results and everyone looked happy. James Vaughan was our form player in pre-season, and was promptly loaned out - that has not gone down well, especially as he's been in good form for Huddesfield.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
For us, exceptional. We signed, Garrido, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Tettey, Snodgrass, Butterfield and young Harry Kane. Bassong and Tettey are the pick for me, players we have needed for a long time - a pacy, experienced CB and a holding midfielder. Despite shipping a few this season, we have the ability to keep clean sheets now, which we didn't before. We spent a lot of money, put lots of faith in Hughton and I think the board have done a fantastic job in the wake of Lambert leaving.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
We lost our 2 best centre backs last season - Zak Whitbread (sold) and Daniel Ayala (loan). Whitbread had a poor injury record but Ayala was class. As I've already mentioned, Vaughan was looking like he was in good form, but didn't seem up to the rigours of first team football last season.
5) What are your thoughts on the depature of Paul Lambert and the arrival of Chris Hughton, has he been the right replacement?
Where do I start?!
Paul Lambert was an exceptional manager. Not just in terms of results, but in his style of play too. He was bold, adventurous and brave - would always go 2 up top and push the full backs on, it's the most open I've even seen us play. It's really disappointing that he felt the need to leave as he did. As soon as McLeish was sacked, I knew he would go to Villa, but I do wonder if he now realises it's a more difficult job than he first thought. I think he should have stayed for another few years, but of course I would say that!
Paul Lambert could have left Norwich City with his price, dignity and legendary status in tact, he chose not to do that.
Hughton is more balanced than Lambert and plays football to win rather than entertain. However his record is good, and he has an excellent record as a player UEFA cup win - almost as good as Lamberts. I have faith that Hughton will come good but he is less bold and makes quite defensive substitutions, which can be frustrating. If we go behind, he doesn't seem to be able to get us to chase the game and get back in it, but I think he's still bonding with us - Lambert is a tough act to follow. Hughton will come good.
6) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
From an attacking point of view, Holt is in form and confident - he will be a danger. He's not pretty, but he is effective. Anthony Pilkington is a top, top player too, but perhaps underrated. Has great quality and is properly two footed.
7) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
We have a tendency to crumble when the chips are down. Michael Turner has had a difficult start to life at Norwich and made some big errors. Put pressure on him and you might get a chance. If we go 2 down I fear we'll concede more. If we score first, we'll be OK as Hughton has us set up pretty solidly. Confidence is the issue I think.
8) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
No, full squad I think. Same XI who beat Arsenal most likely.
9) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
No I'm not surprised that you struggled - your team last year with Heskey up front was pretty poor and Gabby (most exciting player) was never fit, along with Bent. It was a poor team and I think you were lucky to stay up if I'm honest. I think Lambert will see you right this year and unlike some, I think you will finish comfortably mid-table, such is the Lambert midas touch.
10) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert's time with us so far?
I can't work out why he's not being more gung-ho, seems reluctant to play Bent/Benteke together, and he's not playing the expansive football that he did when he was our manager. I think he'll do alright but you'll need to stay with him and be patient. Lambert is an excellent manager, you want to keep hold of him for as long as you can.
You've got some good players, but it's not really happening at the moment. It will, but hopefully not on Saturday afternoon.
11) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
Not especially - I applaud teams that bring youth players through, but recently you've brought a lot of defensive players through, and good defending takes experience. Albrighton/Agbonlahor were the last ones I really rated.
12) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
Holman has looked quite good when I've seen him, very direct and has lots of energy. Not yet been convinced by Vlaar/El Hamadi (sp?). Joe Bennett will play for England one day and is a very promising full back.
13) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
Gabby Agbonlahor - when he's on form he's unstoppable and great to watch.
14) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
It's time that Bent got amongst the goals, and he will be a big threat. Just hope his poor form vs Fulham continues.
15) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
Holt will rough your defenders up so they need to prepare for a fight. Wes Hoolahan was fantastic in the match at Carrow Road last year and was constantly finding space, if he does that again it will cause you trouble... he's a tricky player.
16) Finally, a prediction please kind person...
1-2, we'll go into a 2 goal lead and Bent will get one back. Pressure is all on you.
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Date:Thursday October 25 2012
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