Writer: Mike Field
Date:Wednesday December 5 2012
Stoke up next for us Villans, so we got the vibe from Vital Stoke and they aren't lacking confidence! Some interesting comments about our future aswell.
With thanks to Lloyd.
1) What are you expecting from the season?
At the start of the season it was definitely survival. We had a poor end to last season and with only a few days to go of the transfer window, we hadn't really strengthened and therefore I thought we were going to struggle but TP pulled it out of the bag once again late in the window with the additions of Nzonzi and Adam. Obviously we still have to aim for survival first and foremost but I think a top 10 finish is within our grasps.
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
I say our first tour to America was a real highlight of pre season, With our links in America now, I can see this becoming the norm for our pre season and I can see us bringing in more talent from America, especially after the success of Geoff Cameron. Maybe a lowlight was the fact that we didn't get our signings in earlier enough to allow them to adapt in pre season and left them to the last minute again.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
Personally thought we did very well in the whole. Obviously TP has made his customary pointless signing in Maurice Edu, who just isn't good enough & also brought him his usual sicknote in the form of Jamie Ness & Michael Owen, but the additions of Michael Kightly, Geoff Cameron, Steven Nzonzi & Charlie Adam have been top notch and have helped us to tweak our style this season.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
Not many people left in the summer, which is a norm at the club, we always have too big of a squad at the club, but club legend Ricardo Fuller left, and well he wasn't at his peak, but you could always guarantee a bit of magic from the Jamaican. He was a game changer, and with Pulis' philosophy we don't have many of them in our squad, so at times we do struggle to create goal scoring opportunities, and Ric could create those on his own with his flair.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
If Peter Crouch isn't fit it could well be Kenwyne Jones. I'm not Kenwyne's biggest fan as I believe he is just far to lazy and just doesn't run the line well enough, but recently we have started to see a bit of the form we saw from him when we first purchased the striker. He is still being lazy but he seems to be having numerous 10 minute spells in games where he just decides that he is unplayable and we look so dangerous with his linking ability. He brings in other players to the game so well, most noticeable the wingers. I just wish we could get a full bloody 90 minutes from him, but if we did that consistently then he wouldn't be wearing a stoke top, he would be in living the high life at one of the big European teams.
Also look out for the calmness and creativity of Steven Nzonzi. That lad is as composed as Beethoven and can spot and make a pass anywhere on the field.
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
I'd say our weakness is the fact we don't score enough goals, especially away from home, but we have seemed to get away with it a bit this season seeing how strong our defence has been. We don't score enough goals because we don't create enough chances, and this is mostly down to the way we feed Peter Crouch. Yeah he is a 7ft striker, but he loves the ball at his feet and we don't do it enough. Yeah we smack the ball up to him and he will win every header but we don't get anywhere close to being near to him. Charlie Adam has been asked to shadow him through a game but he just isn't mobile enough to play the number 10 role. It will be likely that Walters or Crouch will come in for Adam this weekend anyway with him being suspended. So it could be Crouch & Jones/ Jones & Walters/ Crouch & Walters up top which could work a lot better.
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
Marc Wilson is a long term injury whilst Andy Wilkinson will continue to be out I think, he may well make the bench but Ryan Shotton will continue to deputise at Right back with Cameron moving over to the left.
As noted before Charlie Adam is suspended. I expect Cameron Jerome to be fit enough for a place on the bench. It will be touch and go with Crouch and Owen will continue to sit out and grow his moustache.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
8) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
No I wasn't. Soon as your owner made the very odd decision to appoint your arch nemesis' manager, who had just relegated them, I knew you would struggle. The fans clearly didn't want it and found it extremely hard to get behind the manager and the season was always going be long and hard. You were lucky to escape relegation.
I see this season as a transitional season, and you will probably struggle for results, but in the end stay up. This season is more about the development of players and squad than a high PL position.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
I've always thought Lambert has been a good manager. He has done it the right way, building himself up from the lower leagues and gaining experience along the way. He did absolute wonders at Norwich with the squad he had, and got the best out of a lot of players whilst at Carrow Road. I think if he is given time at Villa Park, he will do extremely well and once again force Villa up the league and be challenging for European places.
10) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
I'm somewhat envious of your youth system at Villa Park, to put it blunt Stoke don't have one that is good enough at the moment to really bring anyone through, but we are working hard off the field to get that sorted and will soon have an amazing complex to nurture our youth through.
I dunno, but maybe you just haven't got the right blend of youth and experience yet, but most of your first team squad are going to go on to big things, and I bet you hope it will be at your club, rather than the 'bigger' boys in the league.
I've always liked the look of Marc Albrighton but he doesn't seem to get much of a game nowadays. I think Baker looks an amazing prospect along with Weimann who scored a pearler against us last season. Barry Bannan looks to be maturing just right and I've always loved the prospect of Crewe's Westwood.
11) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
Christian Benteke. He looks strong and hungry and is starting to find his eye for goal. He will be very dangerous at the weekend but it will be a good test for him to be up against Huth and Shawcross.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
I'd take Darren Bent at a drop of a hat. I don't know what's going on with him, but his scoring record speaks for itself, and goals are what we are lacking at the moment.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Always think Gabby Agbonlahor is a nuisance. His pass and direct style of play always makes him a dangerous player. He's a player that can change the direction of the game in an instance.
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
I think we will have to attack your inexperience. We are a big physical team and we will probably come and try and bully you. The game is definitely going be a big test for youngsters, and no matter the result, they are definitely going to come out of the game a stronger player.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person...
We're on a good run of form at the moment, 4 wins out of 5 games, and I would normally go for a score draw at Villa Park but I think we're going snatch it 2-1.
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Date:Wednesday December 5 2012
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