Vital Villan Interviews: Sheriff Kimbo
1) When did you become a Villa fan and why?
That's just how it is on my Dad's side of the family. The Kimberley family have been Villa fans since any of us that are living can remember. When it actually began we don't officially know, I'd like to think it was 1874!
I am very proud to say that I think it quite possibly came with Walter Kimberley, who played for the Villa prior to the first World War. Walter, who was my Grandad's uncle (making him my great-great uncle!), was a back-up to the first team and played 7 times before moving to Coventry (you can understand why my families allegiance stayed with Villa!), but sadly died in hospital after being wounded during the Battle of Marne. I was actually just reading about him in the Villa Encyclopedia, apparently he was a tough-tackling defender. Good ol' Uncle Walter!
Anyway I started going down in 1988 (when I was 7) and had my first season ticket in 1989, so next season will be my 20th as a season ticket holder. All of a sudden I feel very old...!
2) Best moment/moments as a Villa fan?
Probably the League Cup final against Man U. It was my first trip to Wembley, it stopped Man U doing the treble, it was a bit of revenge for them beating us to the league the season before and it allowed me to rub it in the faces of the glory-hunting Man U supporters in my school!
Honourable mentions: Winning it again against Leeds two years later was great too, partly because it was surely one of the most one-sided finals ever! The semi-final second-leg against Tranmere, the two nights at Villa Park against Inter, various derby wins, hammering Everton 6-2, MON finally leading us to wins against Top 4 sides for the first time in far too long, remembering where I was when Paul McGrath signed and again when Doug left!
3) Worst moment/moments as a Villa fan?
I am amazed at some of the responses on here relating to last season. Seriously, things have been a lot worse!
The worst was probably losing 3-0 to Doncaster. The lack of fight was unforgivable.
Dishonourable mentions: The one thing I will say about last season was the two Stoke games. The one at their place was the first time I had seen us lose away in the league, and at our ground was the moment I realised we wouldn't be in next seasons Champions League. Losing 5-1 at home to Man City (the first time I saw us take a hammering at Villa Park) under Dr Jo, the times we've nearly been relegated, various derby losses, the moment I realised Graham Taylor had essentially replaced Paul Merson with Michael Boulding...
4) Best and worst away ground visited?
Best - Best away ground is probably Old Trafford, although I have actually been to Parkhead which is a very nice ground indeed. That said, favourite away day is always Blackburn. Brilliant day out every time!
Worst - Sty Andrews. Not just because it's the Blues, not at all. It's because while I have been to lower league grounds that are actually worse, in terms of the size of the club, they have probably done as well as they can with it where as the Blues ground really is horrible.
5) What did you think of last season? Good, bad or indifferent and do you think we progressed?
You know, if the two halves of the season were swapped around it would have been looked on as a good season. We essentially had the same kind of league season as Everton, but because they had it the other way round, people view it as a good one.
I think overall it was good. Yes there were times when it was infuriating but we got our highest points tally for 12 years, a second consecutive top 6 league finish, the first time we have qualified automatically for Europe since god knows when and it gave us our first away win at one of the big 4 in a long time. All little signs of progress and while there were things to be negative about, that shouldn't mean we forget the positives.
6) Which player/s should Villa sign this summer? And do you think Villa will spend enough this summer to progress?
Well... I would like to see two top quality central defenders come in and play together regularly. If not, then at least one is DEFINITELY needed. If there is any truth in the Bouma rumours then we need another left-back. Over on the right if we can improve on Luke Young then we should, if not we should at least buy a proper back-up; personally I think Craig Gardner is a perfectly good right-back but for some reason MON plays Cuellar or NRC there ahead of him, so I would rather see another right-back. That said, Eric Lichaj from the reserves is a good player and may save us a few quid.
Other than that I'd like some more creativity in midfield and a top-class striker. As for who... Hmmm. Wagner Love, I'd be delighted to see at Villa. Zurkhov, his left-sided team-mate is a very good player too. I believe that I have seen nothing of Defour other than YouTube (although I probably have seen him play for Standard Leige, who are a good side) but if he is all he is cracked up to be then maybe we should go get the lad. I would like to see another wide-man option (partly because I'd like to see James Milner in a more central role of a five-man midfield) which may be David Bentley. I am not overly convinced about him but there is definitely some talent there. I would have liked us to have gone for Aiden McGeady but now Strachan has left he probably has a Celtic future (before anyone throws the name of Shaun Maloney in my face, I think McGeady is the better player and in all honesty Maloney was good enough to play a part for us) and I was telling anyone who would listen that we should sign Valencia from Wigan but sadly I think he is now destined for a Champions League club. Or Citeh, depending on his motives.
I wouldn't mind seeing us go for Darren Bent, in all honesty. The lad scores goals, and that is FACT! I'll be a little disappointed if we don't sign Daniel Sturridge, and if we do then maybe send him and/or the 'Fonz (more likely the latter) out on loan to a Championship club for a year. Defenders though... Dunno, may have to look abroad for central defenders (that Olof Mellberg at Juventus is supposed to be good!) as very few names inspire me when it comes to this country. Although I like both full-backs at Sheffield United and gather that we are supposed to be after Naughton. Oh, and I would very much like us to re-sign Gary Cahill, but I don't see it happening.
'Spending enough' is all relative isn't it. I mean, the blue half of Manchester will probably spend the most, but how well will they actually do? Plus the likes of the aforementioned Lichaj and Delfounso, along with players such as Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton may well make the step-up. The short answer is yes, I do.
7) What do you expect next season?
I'd rather answer this question on September 1st...! But:
Premier League: Hope for 3rd/4th, expect 5th-7th.
FA Cup: MON Seems to have the Brian Clough curse, so knocked out at some point!
Europa League: If we improve quality and quantity of the squad then I think we'll give it a good go, so at least the knockout stages. If we don't then good luck to the young lads!
Carling Cup: It's about time we won it again. So I reckon we will. Villa & MON both have good records in it, it's not clicked so far so this year I think it will all come together. In fact, I might even have a fiver on it. (So, dumped out at home to Bournemouth or something then!)
8) Your opinion on Martin O'Neill now he is approaching his 4th season in charge?
I feel sorry for him in a way. He had a poor squad to begin with, he has slowly built the quality and if his UEFA Cup gamble had paid off he'd be hailed as a genius.
What concerns me is that his transfer window dealings are not always great (although NOWHERE NEAR as bad as some will have you believe) and that tactically he doesn't have much of a plan B. That said, there are 14 Premiership teams that would have swapped with us last season. I mean, we are already hearing that Spurs and Man City are the two to watch. Well we were getting told similar stories last year, but once again it was us and Everton that followed the top 4.
I think this is a big window and a big season for him. He said himself that if he feels he is failing then he will walk away, so he may be viewing this as a make-or-break season for him. Some fans certainly are. I for one am not seeing it quite like that. That's not to say I don't think it is important, as I do. I just think that continuity is important and therefore why should this be his last season if he doesn't manage to do what hardly any other manager has done outside the top 4, and that is break into the Champions League? The bottom line is, if he walked away or was sacked, I'd be struggling to offer you an alternative.
9) Your opinion on Randy Lerner and his board?
Recent suggestions of 'the new Doug Ellis' seem harsh. Even if that was accurate in terms of players etc, Ellis NEVER respected the history of the club in the way that Lerner has. I think Randy Lerner genuinely wants to be a success and his recent quotes were blown way out of proportion when it come to summer spending. Just because he said that he money doesn't guarantee success, certain media outlets were telling us our budget had got slashed! Nonsense. He also said he WILL be investing, and other media outlets picked up on that too.
Bottom line - brilliant so far, little reason to doubt future intent. Much like MON, difficult to see who I'd rather have.
10) Favourite current player?
Hmmm. John Carew. I might have said Ashley Young 12 months ago, but he is turning into a classic modern-day footballer! I'm a big fan of Petrov too, and am glad I spent all that time defending him! Honourable mention for James Milner too; that dude can run all day for the cause, and does so!
11) Favourite former player/s?
Walter Kimberley ;-) No, definitely Paul McGrath, although Gordon Cowans comes close. Honourable mentions for Deano, Dalian, Mellberg, Laursen, Teale, Platt, Taylor... so many! (I must mention Dwight Yorke too as I loved that man when he played for us, even though I now feel VERY differently... but I tell ya, I would love Dwight Yorke at his peak in the Villa team now)
12) What do you think of the Gareth Barry departure?
Obviously I wanted him to stay because he's a good player but I had grown to the point of 'past caring' a wee bit. I am disappointed in where he went, though. But hey, life goes on and I am just glad it happened so early in the window and let's be honest, £12m for someone in the last year of their contract is good business. Hopefully it will solve the problem we have with a lack of pace in central midfield, too - which is just one reason why Tom Huddlestone should NOT be his replacement. Not that I would be adversed to signing him as a squad player, but I'd be hugely disappointed if he was Barry's replacement.
13) Right, lets lower the tone... which celebrity would you most like to bang?!
Lily Allen. If you'd said 'most beautiful' or 'sexiest woman' I would have answered differently. But the direct response to that particular question is most definitely Lily Allen. She just... does something to me!
With thanks to Sheriff Kimbo
How to join in on the interviews: http://www.astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk/article