Former Villa player Emile Heskey, speaking exclusively to 888sport (syndicated to My Old Man Said) recently gave his views on the current Villa set up and the Blues on the eve of the Second City derby.
Having played under Steve Bruce for both Birmingham City and Wigan, England international Emile Heskey had something of a chequered time when he then went on to play for Aston Villa. When reinforcements were needed at the start of 2009, with Villa riding high in the Premier League, Heskey was Martin O’Neill’s idea of a transfer to try and secure a Champions League spot.
Arsene Wenger on the other hand, decided Andrey Arshavin was the kind of forward you really needed sign. In scoring four goals at Anfield that season in the Gunners’ 4-4 draw against top of the table Liverpool, Arshavin scored in one game almost half the total of goals Heskey managed (9) in 92 league appearances for Villa.
While he only played two seasons at the Blues compared to three-and-a-half at Villa, Heskey performed better for Villa’s neighbours, scoring double figures (10) in his first season. A feat he only managed once at Liverpool and twice at Leicester.
After Villa, Heskey went down under, ala Ross McCormack, to play in the A-League with Newcastle Jets. The highlight of which, surely was the Heskey Cam!
Here’s the first part of his interview answers, his thoughts on the derby game to come.
What’s Steve Bruce like to work for? Will he get Villa promoted?
I think he’s great. He’s a wonderful man who knows what he wants. He understands the physicality of the Championship but one thing I would say is that Villa need a bit of time. When I’ve watched them play they don’t look too confident.
When you look at when I was playing for them we had Ashley Young, James Milner, Gabby Agbonlahor and John Carew; Gareth Barry and Sylian Petrov, these are all confident players who went out and expressed themselves.
Now they’re not and it’s going to take a bit of time for the manager to install that.
How big a coup is it for Villa to be led by John Terry? Is he still a World Class player who could be playing at the top level?
It’s great because he’s an England captain and he’s had a great career. His experience can help not only the lads who are there now but the young lads who are looking to get into the squad in the future. They will see what it takes to get to that next level. He’s done it and worn all of the jerseys so it’s great.
He’s not the same John Terry who won the Champions League but he’s still got a lot to offer and when you get older you might not be as quick and sharp but you’re mentally wiser and know where to be at the right times.
Where do you think Aston Villa will end up this season? Is anything less than promotion a failure?
If they don’t reach the play-offs they’ll probably be thinking that, yeah.
And what about Birmingham?
For Birmingham it’s about stability. They have had so much instability lately with new owners, then more new owners, and they don’t know what they’re doing, and they sack the managers. The owners needs to understand what the fans want and what the club is able to achieve.
Do you think Steve Cotterill is a good appointment at Blues?
He’s given them instant results so hopefully that can get them going onwards and upwards.
Read the full 888sport interview with Emile Heskey, including his thoughts on an Aston Villa side lacking confidence