Vital Villan Interviews: Murph!
1 - How long have you been a Villa fan and how did you first get the Claret & Blue faith?
I`d say since 1993/94 season, and whilst I can`t remember particularly, my Dad assures me that it was my deluded allegiance to the country of my birth, Wales and one of their main men of the time in Dean Saunders, that brought me to support the mighty Aston Villa.
When Saunders left, the club stuck, more fool me? No sir!
2 - What was your first game?
The 2-0 victory over Slaven Belupo in 2001. The game marked Peter Schmeichel`s Villa Park debut, that lasted 45 minutes before he was replaced by disaster-in-waiting Peter Enckleman. Lee Hendrie scored (twice!) and the team, remarkably was:
Schmeichel, Delaney, Wright, Barry, Alpay, Boateng, Stone, Kachloul, Dublin, Merson, Hendrie. Subs: Vassell, Enckelman, Ginola, Angel, Samuel, Hadji, Staunton.
It may have been an odd-squad, but at least we had a right back!
3 - What is your most memorable moment as a Villa fan?
I would love to say the European Cup victory, but alas I wasn`t even a twinkle in anyone`s eye at the time (I don`t think.) I`ll have to go with our victory in the League Cup over Leeds United. My Uncle is a Leeds fan, the poor soul.
4 - And the worst moment?
It has to be sitting next to Fear at a home match, or any transfer window that has involved Martin O`Neill, apart from the one where he managed to sign Carew AND Ashley Young.
Back on planet common sense, I`d say it has to be the same as a number of folks out there. Watching a certain once-Calamity James throw away (well miss, had he caught the ball and thrown it away we`d all have been much happier!) what could have gone on to be a great day out for Aston Villa in the FA Cup was a heartbreaker at the tender age of 14.
5 - Who are your favourite current Villa players?
Currently, it`d have to be Martin Laursen and Ashley Young. The Great Dane and the flasher-supreme are the two players I could honestly say that within our minuscule squad, I would not sell for all the tea in China, or even Tesco`s.
My usual "underdog loving" persona holds a special place for Marlon Harewood as well. He is nowhere near the most skilful, powerful, or talented striker in the Premier League, however what he lacks in technical ability, his desire to win and to achieve can be seen every time he steps onto the pitch.
As Tommy S and Co. found out once, he can be lethal in front of goal and the Claret & Blue faithful did gain glimpses. I`m glad it seems he`s staying at the club, as I think he can offer so much more than when Gabby decides to have a "where am I again?" day at the office.
6 - Which former player/s are your ultimate heroes?
As mentioned previously, one of them is definitely Deano (the player, not the Vital Villa mod.) Another would be Mark Bosnich, I`ve generally always in the two ball-related sports I`ve played been a keeper, I had the replica "rainbow" Asics shirt with "Bosnich" and 13 on the back, and loved it when he was the star against Tranmere Rovers in 1994.
Again a special "underdog" mention for Juan Pablo Angel, who I thought was vastly under-rated, and given the sheer quality of delivery I`ve seen wasted by Carew/Gabby/Hare this season, it`s screaming out for JPA to be back at VP, leaping into the air and nodding the crosses into the far corners.
7 - Which player do you think was the worst to ever put on the team colours?
Some of the other guys in these interviews have been reluctant to name and shame players who haven`t particularly given much to the Claret & Blue cause, yet an outfielder and a goalkeeper stick out as far as I am concerned.
Bosko Balaban the future of our strike force. He came (on as a sub), he saw (the games pass him by), he conquered (nothing) and then returned to Croatia.
Prior to a 5-1 drubbing by Spurs once upon a time, Thomas Sorensen`s late injury meant that there was a last-ditch call up for Dutch goalkeeper Stefan Postman. After the game he had been quoted that he was told that he was starting, moments before tucking into a full English Breakfast. Upon hearing the news, he went for the "healthy option" instead.
Pro athlete, and butt of many jokes there, Stefan Postma!
8 - What is the best goal you have seen Villa score and which is your favourite game?
See I think people may find this controversial, but I remember seeing (as in, from the stands) a JPA goal that stood out a mile when we played Bolton one year.
A beautiful bounce-back pass from the top of the D saw JPA simple stroll up, and slot the ball side-footed into the top corner of the net, as if he was the only player on the entire pitch.
A special mention for the League Cup goal against the same oppo, being forced wide only to nutmeg the onrushing defender, and scoring from a cross-come-shot that baffled everyone!
As for my favourite game, as a spectator at a match, I`d say thumping a Newcastle side led by Patrick Kluivert 4-1 where at half time, Mr Wu the football freestyler was the most talent we`d seen.
For overall day out, despite result, the Birmingham defeat where I spent hours post-match drinking with my fellow Vital Villa co-ed Fieldy!
9 - Best away ground visited?
I haven`t been to that many with Villa (2) so I will have to say the City of Manchester stadium. A little bit soulless, but fantastic nonetheless, and even the reserve pitch/ground next door puts the now forgotten Millmoor (where I witnessed Crewe V Rotherham in an FA Cup match) to shame!
10 - Who would you like to see Villa sign this summer?
A right back would be a cracking start, followed by a goalkeeper who can catch the ball and doesn`t suffer from Scott Carson syndrome.
After that, I think with the squad we have, we need a left-back, and possibly someone who can come into the middle to excite the midfielders. Whilst we have talented players and hard workers in the likes of Petrov, Sidwell, Reo-Coker, we are still looking for that Merse replacement. Something tells me Moustapha Salifou and Wayne Routledge are not the answer!
11 - What are your predictions for us this season in the:
a) League Really worries me to be honest. I think our League form, if we add say 4 more players to the squad could dip if we somehow find our merry way through Europe. Top 10 I`d say is almost-certain, however to replicate top-6 will take a great effort, top 4 in my opinion is out of reach.
b) Europe If we overcome Odense we`ll bobble through the tournament until we face a similar-levelled European club and then struggle.
c) Carling Cup I expect us to hit the quarter-finals.
d) Fa Cup We`ll no doubt get Manchester United away and go out in the 3rd round!
12 - What is your opinion of Martin O'Neill?
My opinion of Martin O`Neill is a toughy. It is clear that those with a point to prove, he gets the best out of them. The problem is his transfer dealings are suspect, and his put-downs are somewhat similar to a certain David O`leary when it comes to expectations.
Even post-season, MON was still talking about not expecting Laursen to last as long as he did. If that was the case Martin, why would you let Cahill go?
More recently, this "I wouldn`t normally comment" nonsense is grating. It`s strange that he wouldn`t normally comment, yet the last two transfer links have been put to bed somewhat rapidly. Although with the latter (Zigic) I think it`s useful, as did we really need another lumbering giant?
This season is make or break, and I can only hope that he doesn`t go down the O`Leary route, after all he finished 6th once, and had right backs!
13 - What is your opinion of Randy Lerner and the new board?
The new era of Aston Villa could not fail, thanks to the efforts of the previous owner Doug Ellis.
I`m a fan of American sports (well, Baseball and Ice Hockey) and I believe that a family-style ownership of which there are some (just don`t mention the Chicago Blackhawks) can only do wonders for Aston Villa, at least in the off-field side of things. That, Randy has got right.
The money, although not as much as some think we have (QPR and Chelski for example obliterate us in the expendable income stakes) is there, the improvements are being made. However some of the issues when brought up with the board (be it directly, or Via General K) seem to be dismissed without too many words, such as the public address system, the 'Trinity 400` and other issues.
As I said to start, they`re better than Doug, they`ve made wholesale changes, and have managed not to ruin whatever traditions we had left. They have even let Mr Ellis OBE stay on at the club under 'Emertius` status which I for one believe despite the failings of our previous owner, is a great sign of respect for those who have gone before and should be applauded more than it is.
14 - Where do you sit at Villa and are you a season ticket holder?
Non-ST holder, sit wherever mates are or if I have to, sometimes next to Fear.
15 - And finally 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)
Pongo Waring, to tell him he was good, but he`s no Marlon Harewood.
Juan Pablo Angel
Doug Ellis, you`d have to, wouldn`t you?
Then, as so many others have said, Mr McGregor, who could chastise Doug Ellis for what he`s done, and we could discuss how things have gone since his day.
As for the top Totty, I`d stay away from Francesco of Roma fame, and perhaps plump for Shakira. She claimed her breasts were small and humble, but lets face it they`d be worth it and if he could survive the heart attack, I reckon old Dougie would appreciate it.
With thanks to (in a similar arrogant style to Fear) me! I hope you`ve enjoyed reading my ramblings. Look out for the previews to return regularly during the EPL season, and sporadically depending on my state of awake as we continue to bimble through pre-season and the Inter-Joko/Euro Qualifiers!
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