1) When did you become a Villa fan and why?
I don’t think I ever “became” a fan. I was born into a Villa family. First game, I believe was the Santos friendly in 1972 and first season ticket was the promotion season 1974-75 (well actually we had four season tickets for the five of us and I shared a seat in the upper trinity with my brother).
2) What is your favourite Villa moment of all time/most treasured memory?
Would have to be Rotterdam. I didn’t see the goal because I was 4’6” and everyone stood up as Morley crossed it. The coach ride home was surreal – 50 people singing all the way back to Ostend.
3) If you could bring back a former Villa player into this team (at his peak) who would it be and why?
Paul McGrath. Simply put, he would replace anyone we currently have and improve the team. Jack Charlton used to play him in the “number 6” role for Ireland occasionally and he was the best player on the pitch. He could slot straight into the play-off winning team in that position and we’d have won 6-0.
4) How do you rate head coach Dean Smith’s time in charge so far?
Excellent so far. Obvious nerves that he can cope in the “big league” but I think he will. Love the style of play and philosophy and also think he’s a very level headed and intelligent man. I like the fact that he’s a “Villa Man” but I don’t think that will win us any games. If he can keep his composure under the intense scrutiny of the Premier League then we already know he can do the coaching bit.
5) Best and worst moments of last season?
Best was the Derby 4-0 at home. Not just because it was my first game at Villa Park in 5 years, but also because it all came together that day. Jack coming back in, Steer establishing himself in goal, and the fans buying in.
Worst was the Preston game. I think Steve Bruce is a good person, but that was a terrible atmosphere made worse by the cabbage idiot and the penalty miss. I felt genuinely sorry for Whelan that day. Why was he the only one with the balls to step up and take a penalty? And Calderwood running his mouth to the fans was pure stupidity.
6) Your opening opinions on Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens?
So far, so good. Edens is very well respected in the NBA as a forward thinking owner. Don’t know anything about Sariwis, but I’m optimistic that these two have the right ideas and the cash to back them up.
7) Tyrone Mings has arguably been the standout loan signing, but we only have a matching offer clause. Would you break the proverbial bank to secure his signature or do you go for Tammy Abraham?
I worry that a massive money offer for Tyrone could backfire. Yes, he was great and a good leader, but he could struggle in the Premier League. He was very average against WBA/Gayle in the first semi and that was a bit of a red flag for me. I hope I’m wrong as I would love to see him back, but if the price goes much above 10 million I’d start to question it.
Tammy would be a good signing as he’s only going to get better but only at the right price.
8) Jack Grealish has proven himself to be a key man, how do you rate his development?
He has matured immeasurably over the past 18 months and is now becoming the player we all knew and hoped he could be.
I actually give Steve Bruce some credit for this. Bruce got his fitness levels and consistency up to good levels, where he became a 90-minute player, instead of the occasional flashes with no end product. I think JT has also mentored him well. Dean Smith has spurred him on yet further.
9) Player of the Year?
McGinn was brilliant, Jack was immense but it’s Jed Steer for me. His influence went under the radar upon his return as it more or less coincided with Jacks return. He was excellent in the first game of the season and over that run of games on his return, never conceded more than a single goal (except Norwich which I don’t really count as proper game). Goalkeepers never get credit for communication, organization and distribution decisions, and Jed Steer was world class in all three areas.
10) All time favourite Villan?
Paul McGrath. Love the man, worshipped the player. Ian Taylor, Brian Little, Tony Morley and Gary Shaw would round out my top five.
11) Hope’s for the coming campaign?
Mid-table and good Cup run with a squad of youngish players who can develop without the pressure of a relegation fight. Hoping not to be on the end of a thrashing. Would love to see us get a big win against one of the Sky-Six. A good start is key for me – get ourselves into the 25-point range before Christmas. The Villa Park crowd will be crucial and I always fear the negative reaction if we lose a couple on the bounce. The away fans don’t worry me at all.
12) One Bit Of Non-Football Wisdom For Us?
Don’t eat eggs or fish, or go barefoot on a plane.
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