Writer: Mike Field
Date:Monday January 28 2013
A lovely Tuesday visit of Newcastle to B6, are they expecting all three points?
With thanks to TNMW from Talk of the Tyne.
I did ask him to be gentle!
1) What are you now expecting from the season following your start?
A lowering of expectation level to put it bluntly.
In all honesty, we aren't an expectant bunch but we saw what our smallish squad did last season and expected 2 or 3 decent signings as well as another couple of squad players to consolidate a continuing challenge on the top 6 as well as a decent assault on the Europa Cup. The signings that we have made/are making, should have been done in the Summer gone. As a result, we are playing catch up and suffering from the aforementioned small squad.
My main expectation now is safety. Anything else is a bonus. That is how serious, the dip/injury problems have affected us.
2) What are the highlights and lowlights from the season so far?
The highlights have got to be the fact that the regime has realised that we needed strengthening and acted upon it as well as qualifying for the knockout stages of a major European competition. Apart from that, there's not been much to crow about for us.
The Lows just keep mounting up. The poor performance of many of our quality players, the amount of injuries we've had to our best players including our crown jewel, Hatem Ben Arfa. When he comes back, watch us go. The Ba transfer saga, will he, wont he sign a contract without a clause. The Coloccini saga and his personal problems. All these factors have affected us massively.
3) Are there any interesting transfers you expect to complete before the close of the window - and have you brought in anybody we should be aware of?
All our business is pretty much done now apart from the Moussa Sissoko one which could be done by the time this goes to print. Maybe another development player or two as well but players that are new to be aware of include our new powerhouse defender who just wants to be called 'Mapou' pronounced... MMAAPPPOOWWWW. for effect. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, plus Sissoko who is just a pacy box to box midfielder who will scare the sh** out of defenders.
Not forgetting that we've added another striker which will help. Yoan Gouffran.
4) Has anybody left this month who you think has seriously weakened the team, and in turn who turned out to be your signing of last summer?
It's well documented that Demba Ba has been quality for us this season and we'll miss him massively. It's weakened us for now but the bigger picture is that his inclusion upset the balance of the side plus there was a supposed rift with Papiss Cisse. Given all the more credence by the amount of times Ba passed to him (very few). Opting to shoot when it was the harder option on many occasions.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
A difficult question as I'm not sure how we'll line up but I expect the likes of Cabaye and Cisse to play. Cabaye can thread a needle from 60 yards and Cisse is....... Cisse. He scores when he wants, which this season isn't that much as he just hasn't fancied it. Maybe Villa will be one of his days when he (wants to).
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
The main weakness is confidence and the fact that we haven't had a settled side all season, mainly in defence. Coloccini's head is elsewhere, Mike Williamson is crap, which leaves the injured but returning Steven Taylor and our new dark enforcer MYM(MAPOW!!!) to battle over the pairing. I reckon we'll see a Colo - MYM partnership, which may give yous a chance to catch us when we're rusty.
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
Our best player, Hatem Ben Arfa is out injured but is back soon plus Cheik Tiote is at the ACN, so we are weaker than we could have been. Sissoko (if he beats the deadline) will take Tiotes place though and be just as effective.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
8) Have Villa performed how you expected in the first half of the season, and do you see us improving or really suffering a relegation battle in the second half of the season?
From scouring various football sites and speaking to a few, I think Villa are there or thereabouts to the fans expectations. I just think the fans mindset is on doom and gloom, which ultimately wears off onto the pitch causing relegation or in truth, needing one to rid the deadwood.
I can sense a growing frustration amongst yous lot but having experienced relegation 3 times myself, it's a horrible feeling but one that cleanses you as a fan. It gets the appetite back and many other things that you didn't realise were there emotionally and it can actually act as a step forward in the long run.
Take our last relegation for example. We were floundering around mid to lower table for a few years after the highs of Keegan and the 3 years under Sir Bobby but after relegation, we took stock and actually had a plan for the future, which is top 6.
We achieved it within 2 years but this season has been a major blip. The plan is still in place and I expect (if we survive) to be challenging again next year. There's no reason why Villa can't follow the same sort of path as us. Relegation isn't the end. Although, in truth, I think yous will finish 16th this season.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
My initial thoughts are that he doesn't really come across as a manager to me. He seems fairly softly spoken. Apart from that, I haven't really got an opinion. He seems a decent enough, honest bloke. Not in the Brendan Rodgers ar**hole stakes at all.
10) What have you made of our youth promotions this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
If you've had some youth come through the ranks then I can honestly say that they've went over my head or I'll be completely wrong. I'm pretty sure there was a left back or something playing for yous the other night that seemed half decent, Joe Bennett but if not, see my previous sentence.
11) Who has stood out most from our summer signings for you - I'd have liked to ask about signings this window, but at the point of sending this we haven't blinking made any?
*checks google.... No seriously, I know yous bought Benteke and he stands out a mile for me. Quality player. Being honest, no one else stands out.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
As above. Benteke. Big, strong, always seems a threat and I find it hard to believe he's only 22. Can see him join one of the sky clubs in a couple of years.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
I'm tempted to go with Benteke again but Gabby Agbonlahor always seems to do well against us. Not forgetting that Le Sulk himself, Charles N'Somnia will be busting a gut (for once) in trying to turn us over plus Shay Given will no doubt play out of this world against his former employers.
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
I think the confidence is shot and I reckon we'll try to play a pacy quick game to exploit this. We shouldn't allow time on the ball and should aim to shackle. If we then get our game in order then we'll be okay.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person...
Regardless of form, I reckon this has 1-1 written all over it.
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Date:Monday January 28 2013
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