As we gear up for this weekend’s derby, I collared Baggy Boy from Vital Baggies to answer our pre match interview.
It was colourful last season, so with thanks!
1) What are you expecting from the season?
Midtable again, top dogs again. Hopefully 🙂
Seriously, we’ve started well, but we do have quite a few new players who will take time to bed in, and we obviously have Steve Clarke who – despite the start – will have wobbly moments as he learns the trade, so if we can finish again around 10th place, I’d imagine there’d be no arguments from anyone.
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
Nothing really stands out to be honest, there was so much focus on the appointment of Steve Clarke that pre season friendlies just faded into the background. We did have some good wins though as the games ticked through, and no doubt that has contributed to the spirit we’ve seen so far this season.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
Claudio Yacob is like a knight in shining armour, especially given he joined on a free. Settled into the first team admirably, and performed very well so far. The other obvious choice is Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, who has had an impact whenever he gets on the pitch. We’re really still to see the impact of the other signings, but at least from you can tell they will give us something different when up to speed and they get their chance. Yassine El Ghanassy is a name to look out for in the future!
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
The only ones I really worried about was Keith Andrews and Paul Scharner because of how instrumental they were last season, but we’ve replaced well, especially with Yacob for the more defensive midfield role, so I can’t fault the decisions.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
Long, Mulumbu, Lukaku…we’re moved on from last season, I don’t have to default to Peter Odemwingie anymore!
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated 🙂
Our weakness at the moment is Fulham.
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
Not at the moment, apart from default Peter Odemwingie after he saw the mythical red mist. We have a couple of injury worries, but most of them should be back by the weekend.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle…
8) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
No, between the sites we had some good banter last season, especially that bloody McLeish flag! I don’t think it surprised anybody to be honest. The only surprise if anything was how badly he actually did do, because the one thing you thought might happen would be you’d be inept in attack but far more solid than you were in defence. Pee taking aside, and sadly I can’t remember the board member I was chatting with now, but having Lambert rebuilding you it’ll be nice to have a more genuine ‘top dog’ battle this season, or maybe next being fair, as you aren’t consistent yet and are still learning the new ropes.
I want us to top you, but because we are genuinely the best side, not because you have strikers playing on the wing or in defence as it appeared last season.
From highlights so far, you aren’t going to pull up any trees this season but you should, I think, finish higher and more comfortably this time round.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
I like him as a man and a manager. He knows what he’s doing but it’ll take time, as surely you know the work that needs doing at your club. Stick with him, and you’ll reap the rewards. Many a Villa fan said your problem with McLeish was his style, so savour that with Lambert and it’ll work more often than it doesn’t as time passes. As you can imagine, as a replacement for Roy, I wouldn’t have had any concerns had we gone for Paul.
10) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
Carruthers last season showed a lot of promise in his brief moments, but I’ve not seen anything of him yet? The Scottish Dwarf stands out for me for pure technical ability and the eye to pick out a pass. I believe Albrighton has been injured, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can pick up from where he left off under Houllier and outside of that, Clark in time I think is good enough to be a Republic of Ireland captain of the future, but he’s struggling from spending so long out of his natural position.
11) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
A couple have stood out in flashes, but nothing major or consistent yet. Vlaar reminds me of Olsson in style of play, but the Southampton game shows he’s not quite up to speed yet as he was caught flat footed from what I saw on the highlights. Benteke also shone against Swansea, but against Southampton also showed he wasn’t up to speed. The only consistent signing so far going off highlights is Guzan, who really seems to have improved on his earlier cup exploits.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t take one, I’d take two this time round. Firstly Bannan because I think with time he could play the support role perfectly with the passes he can play, and secondly Clark, because him alongside Craig Dawson could well be the future.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
I’m expecting Agbonlahor to figure to be honest, and his pace is always an issue, even if sometimes his finishing is comical. But he’s a definite threat.
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
Simple lack of understanding still following a new regime. You were…cough… sublime against Swansea, tight against Newcastle, but it’s taking so much from the players as they adjust that you are off pace like Southampton. Lambert will take the cup seriously which means our game will either feature the same players who will be tired, or you’ll play those not yet completely ready for the first team. Either way, we should be able to capitalise on it and at the moment, that is your weakness.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person…
As above, I’d put my house on three points for us this game and it could easily be 3-0. Depending on how we go as the season progresses, I don’t think I’ll be as confident when we next meet, because I feel you will really click around December and what takes effort now – which tires and drains your team – will be second nature by then.
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