We have been in contact with an Aston Villa fan's site "My Old Man Said" Sharing our Views, Opinions and Insights into our own clubs. Below are the questions we asked and the answers from David at MOMS, We would like to thank David for being honest fair and frank in his response, also for the comments about City being on a level with the great Brian Clough's side; they were good times to be a yellow.
1. What's your take on Villa's start to the season and current league position?
I haven’t really given much thought to the league position, as Paul Lambert has needed some games to try to put his team together. This is Villa’s third transitional season on the trot; throw in Kevin McDonald and Gary McAllister, and Villa have had five managers in two and a bit seasons since Martin O’Neil left.
The performances have been ok and with a bit of luck, there would have been more points on the board for Lambert. There is a feeling though, that this current Villa team is a little lightweight and is in need of an experienced name or two. Unfortunately, this season is now starting to merge with last season with the statisticians. It’s hard to escape the fact that Villa have picked up 32 points in the last 38 games, which is relegation standard.
2. I've noticed some backlash already from fans to Paul Lambert as Villa boss. What's the situation there?
Certain Villa fans have had clear judgement clouded by the relentless sufferings of the last couple of years. I don’t believe in lowering expectations when you have the infrastructure and the history of Villa, however its footballing sense that Lambert will need time in such a rebuilding job.
While Lambert’s attitude is spot on, of course, he’s not proven at this level, in terms of his experience. There’s no guarantees, despite Lambert’s success in moving Norwich through the divisions. Paul Jewell was once a highly regarded young manager (I remember Lee Sharpe rating him higher than Sir Alex, when he was at Bradford), yet Jewell seemed to be neutralised by the top tier and there’s been a bunch of managers like that over the years.
At the moment though, most Villa fans have Lambert’s back.
3. Do you think your change of manager has had much of an impact – since McLeish’s start was actually better?
It’s day and night, in terms of how Villa play; it’s far from total football yet (they haven’t worked out completely what to do in the final third yet!), but the progress is there for all to see.
Bar a on-song Everton sweeping us aside, Villa have been in most of the games this season, and if it wasn’t for glaring misses should have bagged more points. Lambert still needs some steel in the spine of the team, as there seems to be an inability to close games out.
Overall though, this time, last season, Villa were only going to get worse, this season we will only get better.
The Great Sir Dion of Dublin, played for both Villa and City
4.. On the evidence so far, what's different about the Villa team to the one we know from last season? Have the summer's new signings added to the team?
Again, the style of play with a move to a more possession based ethos. The purchase of Ron Vlaar could be big, but at the moment his partners at the back are all talented youngsters gaining experience. The new fullbacks signings Matthew Lowton and Joe Bennett should provide an exciting attacking dimension once they are settled and got games under their belt.
The big talking point at the moment is the Villa strikers. While on paper we’re happy with our quartet of Darren Bent, Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann, the debate rages on who should play. Some fans are already giving new man Benteke a hard time for missing a couple of sitters (despite scoring on his debate and scoring for fun for Belgium).
The real problem though is their service and Villa’s midfield. Lambert hasn’t got the quality in there to play his preferred narrow diamond and Villa fans have been traditionally schooled on crowd-pleasing wingers over the years.
5. Are there any players not pulling their weight? Much was made of a couple of players being frozen out Hutton and Warnock I think. What was the score for that?
Stephen Ireland still only flirts with being a footballer. I’m sure Lambert won’t suffer him for much longer. We really needed him to step up last season and he didn’t (god knows who voted him as Fans Player of the Year). He could still make a difference though.
The Hutton and Warnock exile is interesting. Houlier had already exiled Warnock before and last season Villa fans really hammered Hutton and Warnock for some shocking performances. It was refreshing to see the old ‘wiping the slate’ clean cliché wasn’t applied by Lambert when he took over. He gained a lot of respect from fans for not messing around with them.
6. What's the bottom line for this season to be regarded as successful?
If Villa can finish mid-table and maybe go through a couple more rounds of the League Cup, then it will be seen as a positive step forward. If Lambert is the man, then next season could see a dramatic up-turn in fortunes with the foundations laid this year on and off the field.
7. What do you reckon of Norwich's start to the season? And general thoughts on Hughton as a manager.
I didn’t know Norwich were without a win before the Arsenal game, so that in itself suggests a certain level of respect gained from last season’s efforts. Adjusting to life after losing any manager who was a fulcrum to the club isn’t going to be easy, and obviously losing Lambert made Norwich a candidate for relegation. Hughton is a rare former Blues manager that doesn’t really carry any hate from Villa fans. To be fair, he hasn’t had a clean run at a club, but the fact he keeps getting jobs suggests there is potential there.
8. Do you think Hughton will be a success at Norwich?
He did fine at Newcastle and was perhaps unfairly dismissed considering. With the Blues – you wouldn’t wish their current board on any manager. If Hughton is any good, then I think it will be Norwich City that will define him. If he keeps you up this season, then he’ll have a platform to show what he’s got. He doesn’t seem to be a big character, which is something I do worry about in managers, yet at the same time, if he didn’t have any resolve he would have long been washed away to the lower leagues.
Ron Saunders another manager with both City and Villa
9. Pre- Lambert, how did you regard Norwich? Anything that comes to mind that sums it up?
My personal image of Norwich City you’ll be glad to know is cemented in the late 80’s, early 90’s, when I viewed them as a kind of yellow version of Brian Clough’s decent football-playing Nottingham Forest team of the time.
I remember watching Norwich beat Bayern Munich in their own back yard in the UEFA Cup (preferred the two-leg knock out version) in 1993. The last time I really supported another English team in Europe with any vigour.
However, the season before, Carrow Road may have witnessed a game that helped define the last 20 years of English football. Villa were in the final run-in for race for the title with Manchester United, and Norwich beat Villa 1-0 at Carrow Road, which swung the title race in United’s favour and shot through Villa’s morale (we were never the same after and even lost the last three games). Villa finished second, Norwich third and United won their first title in a generation or two, and began their rule. So you could blame Norwich for Sir Alex’s legacy!
This is what worries me about the money control on the game, when I was growing up it wasn’t unusual for a team like Norwich, Southampton or Watford to come second or third in the league. To me Norwich are a team that always should be in the top tier.
Also, Carrow Road was the scene of Alex McLeish’s last game as Villa manager. Sorry about calling for Lambert to be our manager then, it was just a joke at the time!
10. Prediction for match?
Villa 2 Norwich 1 – Villa have only played three games at home this season out of eight, and have picked up points there. Injuries at centre back for Villa may give Norwich a real chance though. In many respects, not winning this game is unthinkable, as a difficult November for fixtures lurks around the corner.
Many thanks again David, hope you feel a lot better today, I also hope that we see a good game of football which isn't over shadowed by the media by the Lambertgate Shenanigans. Of course being a Yellow, I hope the unthinkable happens.
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My Old Man Said: @oldmansaid