Vital Villa 2011/12 Interview
1) When did you become a Villa fan and why?
As a young kid it was an instinctual choice – the sound of the name, the colours of the kit and some of the players just caught the eye. The busy-looking Gary Shaw with his blonder-than-blonde hair, Tony Morley who almost looked liked he was running in fast-forward mode and Alan Evans, whose diving headers to clear to ball out-of-danger over his own bar for a corner, I mimicked a couple of times for my school team. At the time, I lived in Lincoln. Everybody around me seemed to support Liverpool, but luckily I’ve always had my own mind.
For the payment of a Curly Wurly and a Mars Bar, I got a Villa shirt off a LIverpool fan at school. The swap was like signing the life-long contract of my Villa supportership. Villa won the league a year later, although apart from watching Villa on Match of the Day in individual games, I don’t really remember the race for the League title. But I have a crystal clear memory of the next season and the European exploits that led to European Cup glory, which helped me learn Geography along the way.
2) Alex McLeish? Your opinion please?
Well, I’ve spoken enough about this already. I was the guy who helped co-ordinate the 17,500+ facebook group and protest against McLeish’s appointment.
It was never nothing personal to McLeish, just based on the facts of his CV to date. Also, the fact in the past year we’ve had a manager who left us in the lurch with five days to go to the start of the season, then a manager who was prone to clown-like decisions, despite being a nice guy. Villa fan’s patience was wearing thin and the idea of a blue nose manager being appointed was also salt in the wounds.
I first voiced my concerns about McLeish in a two-and-a-half hour conversion that started at midnight and wound up at 2.30am, with Villa’s head of PR. To this day, he’s still the only person I’ve spoken to who thought that McLeish was a good appointment from the off.
McLeish’s record thus far stands for itself, it wasn’t good enough for Villa, whatever mitigating circumstances you throw in there.
I’m hoping it’s not Bill McNeil all over again…who McLeish’s record in football is similar to: European winners medal as a player, Scottish titles as a manager, relegation when he managed in the English league.
Still, from what I know about him from his Aberdeen days onwards, I think he seems a decent chap. Which goes a long way with me. If he’s going to build a reputation for success, it’s best it’s at Villa than anywhere else.
Overall, I just saw it as a huge gamble by the board, who are putting their excellent reputation with fans firmly on the line.
3) Best and worst moments of last season?
The best was watching a young Villa team tear Manchester United to pieces at Villa Park…for most of the game. Also, the Villa Park atmosphere was great (first time since the Ajax game, from my experience). Of course, we’ve become numb to United’s comebacks over the years, so it wasn’t the worst moment to not win the game.
The worst moment, having seen Blues win the League Cup a few days earlier, was seeing Houlier’s team selection against Manchester City. Absurd. Insulting. Killed the season instantly. There are no excuses for it. On the bright side, when I saw the team sheet, I put a fiver on City winning 3-0.
The only other time I bet against the Villa, was when O’Neil cheated the Villa fans in Moscow. When I saw the team sheet then, I put £300 on CSKA Moscow to win. It seems that the Football Gods do pay out compensation for fans let down by weaken team selections.
4) Your opinion of Randy Lerner?
Well the honeymoon period is over, and this season it’s like he’s on trial with Villa fans with the McLeish appointment/gamble. As director Spike Lee once said to me, ‘Lerner’s from Brooklyn, he’s a good man’. I’d agree with that.
5) Which player/s should Villa sign this summer?
Villa need an inspirational figure, who can inspire the team. If Scot Parker was a couple of years younger, he’d be good. McLeish may have to look overseas. We need a talisman-like figure.
6) (changed question!) Stewart Downing, now he has gone, were Villa right to get shot of him or should they have kept him against his wishes?
Well, to sell him for that money and buy a decent replacement for half-the-price is good business in anybody’s book. Will N’Zogbia be consistent though? Downing last year, always put in a shift. I still don’t think Downing is international class though. He’s shooting is especially erratic, N’Zogbia’s is better. So no problem with sale.
7) Favourite current player?
Well, nobody at the moment I’d really pin my colours too. Although I really like the look of Albrighton, from the Peace Cup onwards. Hopefully he’ll have the confidence to become the new Tony Morley. I rate him higher than Downing and potentially Young. I was surprised O’Neil didn’t give Albrighton more game time in the season that followed the Peace Cup win. He should have been a regular substitute (but MON didn’t know what that word meant!) . I think that was a lost season for the player and his development suffered a little bit.
8) Favourite all time player/s?
It would be McGrath and the old school of Spinks (I brought him a drink once), Morley and Shaw. Alwasy liked the Villa centre backs of that period too – Evans and McNaught – as that was my position. Honourable mentions also to Dean Saunders and Mark Bosnich (mainly for Boz winning us the League Cup).
9) What do you expect us to do/finish this season?
Premier: 8th, if there’s a team spirit. But there’s a certainly a wide spectrum of places Villa could end up this season.
FA Cup: fifth round
10) You can ask yourself any question you want to about Villa and what is your answer?
After MON left, didn’t you think, ‘What’s the point? Nothing changes with the Villa….’ etc, etc.
Well, I’d like to thank McLeish here. He helped me go from complete apathy to actually getting involved and doing something constructively about it. After that the protest and helping that facebook page, I’ve set up www.myoldmansaid.com, which so far has been great. The discussion with fellow fans on the corresponding facebook page has been good reasoned debate and hopefully it will build into a solid fan’s forum.
An idea is to also have more synergy with Vital, H & V, and other groups new and old. The fickle tag is something that haunts Villa fans, but we have some of the best fan forums (and away fans), and we must do something about being more united and to be a fan collective that the club respects. I’m not talking about having an Italian Ultra fan-like grip on the club, but a closer relationship with the club would be good. Rather than just being treated like the punters of a business.
11) Right, lets lower the tone… which celebrity would you most like to bang and which (male I would think) celeb would you most like to thump!?!
Well, in my job, I’ve interviewed and spoken to all the major film stars a few times each. I have my favourites, but you’d be surprised, in the flesh, there’s not too many that you think ‘Woah, now that’s a real sexy woman!’ Funnily enough, I’ve always thought, I actually do have the chance to thump a celebrity. Although I’d have to choose wisely, as I wouldn’t work again. If there was someone, I wouldn’t name them here…I don’t want to ruin the element of surprise!