Opposition view: Aston Villa
By Ric Turner, Mon 24 September 2012 09:28
Ahead of Tuesday’s encounter against Aston Villa at The Etihad, Bluemoon caught up with Damian from The Villa Blog and Stuart from A Villa Fan to get the lowdown on the opposition…
What are your expectations for this season?
D: If you asked me before we kicked a ball, I'd have said a top half finish, but I have a renewed optimism in Paul Lambert at the moment. I accept that the optimism is blind, he has had four matches in charge, but right now, my expectations are top eight.
S: It's a case of sorting out any deadwood and re-stabilising ourselves as a club. It's no secret we have been on a downward spiral since the O'Neill days - partly because of his silly spending. However, in Lambert he has the backing of both players and media. Anything around mid-table would be a decent season and then push on from that in the future.
Are you happy with the manager?
D: As things stand yes, but that is just because of the way he is trying to get the team to play and the determination in which the players seem the be playing. Football is a funny game, but as long as he continues on this path, of having the players keep the ball and want it when they don't have it (they're running the channels more and making space like we've not seen in a long time), then I'll be happy, because these are the foundations and we've not had them for years.
S: Extremely - he was always my personal choice. I don't know why but Villa tend to do better under what I call a 'track suit' manager. Someone who will give the players that kick up the backside when needed, praise them and try and keep them out of the media spotlight.
Who are your key players?
D: Bent is key although not many will agree with me right now, but he is and this season could be a great one for him, even though he might not get as many goals as we would have hoped. He is smart and when he is on the pitch and moves five yards to the left or right, defenders follow him and he makes space. After Bent, I think a key man for us this season could very well be Ron Vlaar, the central defender we brought in from Feyenoord this summer - he wants it and he looks very decent so far.
S: Darren Bent without doubt will need to find his scoring boots. It's also a massive season for your old boy Stephen Ireland. There's no doubt he has talent, and we have seem glimpses of it but he really needs to find some consistent form.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
D: I didn't feel let down but I was sort of hoping that the club would go out and splash the cash on a player or two, but I feel okay with it now, especially after Christian Benteke came on for twenty minutes against Swansea and scored and played the way he did.
S: We have done the 'buy the established player for big money and big wages' and it didn't work out. I believed in our manager so even though I haven't heard of most of them I was interested to see what would happen. And what I've seen so far I haven't been disappointed.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
D: We have a few young players coming through that could shine in years to come. You'd have heard of Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton because they have featured a fair bit the last couple of seasons, but maybe not heard of the likes of Ciaran Clark, Andreas Weimann and Eric Lichaj who will probably all play a part when we play next week and there is also the chance that you will see one or two more after them too.
S: We are Aston Villa - we constantly bring through young players so there's loads. Problem is hardly any of them ever step up to the 'big time'. Samir Carruthers is one to watch.
Your Achilles heel?
D: I don't like to think of a player this way, I'm a firm believer that all players have their part to play, but we are lacking someone with real vision. We've got players that can play that 40 yard pass and make it look sublime but we all see it coming. We lack someone with the creativity or spark that can change a game, so our Achilles heel is something we don't have yet.
S: We have a very inexperienced side so consistency will play a big part. Darren Bent is also someone who can score goals but someone who misses a hell of a lot of sitters - hence why he's at Villa and not a top four side.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
D: Right now, I'd have David Silva - he is our Achilles heel.
S: It would be easier to ask who wouldn't I sign. In trueness either of the former Villans I'd take back or Joleon Lescott. Very underrated defender in my eyes.
What is your perception of City as a club?
D: Don't take this the wrong way, but you have bought your success and you're the new Chelsea and I know plenty of City fans that hated what Chelsea did, but and here it is; if someone came in and bought Aston Villa and spent like your owner did, I'd love it.
S: Obviously money and you will now get your fair share of glory hunters. The other day I saw a young lad in a City shirt in Birmingham. But all said and done I'd love to be in your situation and you could see what it ment to the 'real supporters' when you won the title last year.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
D: This is the managers second Cup game with us and he made a few changes against Tranmere in the second round, so I suspect he'll make a couple of changes this one too. He'll also fancy that we can win this, even though we are at your place and even if secretly he'd not be that bothered with defeat, so if I were to predict the final result, I'd have to say we are leaving the competition at this stage of it. The likely starting elven will be Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj, Delph, Ireland, Herd, N'Zogbia, Benteke and Bent, but it is a wild guess.
S: Obviously it all depends on tomorrow's fixture with Southampton however I wouldn't expect any Villa side to beat any City side so I would expect the outcasts (Given, Gabby, etc) to get an oppurtunity. As painful as it is to say it 3-0 City.