Vital Villan Interviews - Carlosio
1 - How long have you been a Villa fan and how did you first get the Claret & Blue faith?
Essentially my whole life, 20 years. I never actually made a decision about it, I was just brought up around Villa fans, and it seemed a natural 'choice'.
2 - What was your first game?
Unfortunately my Villa Park experiences were few and far between when I was young, as my immediate family have no interest in this great game that we call football. Aston Villa 0-0 Manchester United is I think the first I went to, and not exactly a classic to get me off the mark. We scored a disallowed goal and that is just about all I can remember.
3 - What is your most memorable moment as a Villa fan?
All sorts of things jump out at me here, Running into Dwight Yorke outside a laundrette in Walmley was a bizarrely brilliant day. He was driving a purple Porsche.
But I most remember the Coca-Cola cup coming in to our primary school after our second win, and getting the chance to be photographed lifting it in celebration. I was wearing my Villa shirt/scarf/shorts/socks/shoes/anything-else-that-I-had-with-Villa-on-it. Nowadays all I hear about the League Cup is it's Tin-Pot nature and how no one cares about winning the thing, but back at the tender age of 9, none of that mattered. The Villa had won something, and I was holding it.
4 - And the worst moment?
Isn't much to talk about here. Being young, the day Yorke left was a difficult one, similarly with other Villa favourites of mine, Southgate etc. I suppose I'd have to say our recent decline under David O'Leary. I don't want to get to far into berating him, but the way in which we ended that season followed by the laughable scandal which surrounded his departure, I just remember thinking there was no way back for the club...
5 - Who are your favourite current Villa players?
I'm going to say it even if there are others in denial; Gareth Barry. The man has given a substantial share of his career to the club, and has very very little to show for it. He has blossomed into a fantastic player, and though seeing him go will be hard should he do so, he has worked extremely hard for the club and deserves to be a winner.....but preferably at Aston Villa.
There are the obvious ones too; Ashley Young, Martin Laursen. Then there's big JC. I struggled a bit at first, knowing him mostly from Championship Manager, where he semmed to score 4 goals a game at Valencia, my hopes were ludicrously high, and he obviously failed to deliver. Once he got over his fitness troubles though, he showed what a striker he is. On top of that, he seems a nice bloke and is genuinely happy, which is something you don't see too much nowadays.
6 - Which former player/s are your ultimate heroes?
I'll stick with players that I've seen in my lifetime, but first want to mention Tony Morley, who I knew about mostly through my Uncle and then eventually the wonders of YouTube. I just recall the way he would speak about the man and immediately felt as though I agreed.
Paul McGrath - No more need be said here, but he is perhaps the best to wear the shirt, and my Youth only exagerated the feeling of awe I got from watching him play. Immortalised forever of course in the chant 'Who Needs Cantona when we've got Paul McGrath'
Ian Taylor, Dion Dublin, Paul Merson, JPA (yes, he is my hero, and he has a son called Geronimo, how can you not love that), Mark Bosnich, Steve Staunton and Andy Townsend are two that jump out as well. So many of these players probably weren't half as good as I remember them being, but that's the joy of youth.
7 - Which player do you think was the worst to ever put on the team colours?
Is it fair to say Balaban, as he never ever played? I don't really know on this count, maybe the Djemba brothers.
8 - What is the best goal you have seen Villa score and which is your favourite game?
Gareth Barry's right footed screamer aainst Spurs a couple of years back was a peach of a goal. The one against Bolton last season wasn't half bad either.
Favourite game is probably the day we sent Coventry down. Sitting in the stands at half time I was so dejected, then my cousin bought me a top notch pie and things started to look up. The rest, as they say, is history.
9 - Best away ground visited?
The nicest ground I've been to is Ashburton Grove, but the best atmosphere I've experienced is probably Goodison. That said, I've hardly visited any of the other stadiums in the Premier League.
10 - Who would you like to see Villa sign this summer?
Since you're asking, I'd like Kaka, Messi etc. But seriously, I want us to have a bigger squad to manage the season, but it's down to Martin O'Neill to pick the players. He could buy Podolski's and van der Vaart's of this world, but if he can't get them to work in a system, they're more likely to harm it than help it. Whoever the manager thinks will work best for his style.
That said, Lukas Podolski and van der Vaart, please.
11 - What are your predictions for us this season in the:
a) League I reckon we'll probably be there or thereabouts at the end of the season again, but it'll be tough. anywhere from 5-8th realistically. We'd all like to believe that we could challenge one of the 'big 4' but they finish up there for a reason. Only time will tell, but with the (hopefully) added burdens of Cup runs in various competitions, it will be interesting to see if the club can also improve it's league position.
b) Europe Last season tells us that all of the English clubs in the UEFA Cup should expect a good run, but a bad draw can spell disaster. I expect us to make the competition, and a good run would probably be the quarter finals, maybe further. If we draw AC Milan I reserve the right to change this prediction.
c) Carling Cup This is probably our biggest hope for next season, and if we avoid Manchester United we have a relatively good chance of a big run, maybe a Wembley visit. As Tottenham showed last season, you don't necessarily need to be performing well to have a good cup run. That said, we'll probably mess up in an early round playing some reserves again.
d) Fa Cup This one's easy, we'll go out in the third round to Manchester United....again.
12 - What is your opinion of Martin O'Neill?
Best thing I've seen happen to Villa for a fair old while. I was incredulous when I heard we'd got him, and then in shock when I realised it was true. Actually scrutinising the way he works has changed my opinion of him somewhat, but I still hold the belief that he is a top manager, and that he continually proves doubters wrong is testement to that. Certainly, he leaves something to be desired when it comes to the transfer market (at least on past experience) but as the manager of Aston Villa, it is his job to win football matches, and last season he proved that he was very capable of that. As Fear says, this season is the biggest test so far for him, and could go a long wway to proving one way or another if he is the man to take us forward....but I have great faith that he can.
13 - What is your opinion of Randy Lerner and the new board?
He is yet to put a foot wrong, and in the modern football world where so much about foreign ownership is disputed, and so many are constantly digging themselves into holes, it's nice to see our man quietly going about his business. Doubly nice because that's what he does. His hands off approach is a welcome change.
There is so much to praise about what has been done in the last couple of years at Villa Park, and I think that speaks for itself. I am often told I am part of the 'Fairy Glen' and it's true, but how is it possible to be anything other than optimistic about the future when we've seen what we have?
14 - Where do you sit at Villa and are you a season ticket holder?
I've been all of the ground in my visits there, but most often have sat in the Trinity Road stand. I am not a season ticket holder, as I don't currently reside in Birmingham, nor do I have the money, though when both of the above complaints are satisfied, I would like to become one, definitely.
15 - And finally (stolen without shame from Vital Arsenal!) if you could invite 4 people connected to Villa, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would they be? And you can add one bit of top totty as well to make the party go with a 'bang' ;o)
Again, I fear my lack of knowlege of past greats will hinder me here, but I'll give it a go.
Ron Saunders - The man is enigmatic and laid the foundations for Villa's biggest success. I'd love just to shake his hand, so a fantasy dinner party guest list would certainly include him.
William McGregor - This man is more than just an Aston Villa legend, and to hear direct from the horses mouth how he worked would be a privilege.
Tom Hanks - Not really because of his association with Villa (which is minimal, I admit) but because he is a fantastic actor and just someone I'd quite like to meet. Is that wrong?
Martin O'Neill - Yes I know, it's a bit of a cop out, but he seems to me an interesting man, and I imagine that would be something that was more apparent if one spent a good amount of time with him.
And to complete my multi-national dinner party, I'd call Alessandra Ambrosio along for, shall we say, entertainment.
With thanks to Carlosio
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