View from a Villain
It's City vs Villa again in the League Cup. Here are some thoughts of Villa editor J P Fear ahead of the game
1. How would you rate your start to the season so far? Are you pleased with the team performances? Which player has impressed the most?
We've made a fairly solid start to the season, in some ways we were unlucky to have lost to Liverpool because the free kick (despite being a world class finish by Gerrard) was harsh and the Manchester City game could easily have
been a win for us if only our strikers had remembered to score you have to shoot between the goalposts, not around them! The Chelsea result certainly galvanised confidence and our win over Everton, despite a pretty average game, showed that we can now grind out results which in previous seasons seemed too big an ask.
I'm not sure it matters overly about the performances at the moment, more the results but there are some bright sparks in the team who can entertain on their day. Our squad is too small and we do lack in quality in some areas so bearing that in mind, I think the lads have done really well so far. Ashley Young has impressed me, Gareth Barry always impresses and Martin Laursen at the back has come back fit and hungry and makes it very difficult for the opponents to get passed him.
2. What are your views on the League Cup, should Villa field a full strength team, or try some fringe players? Do you think you have a genuine chance of winning the competition outright?
I like the League Cup, especially that they don't go to replays these days but I hate the two legged semi finals, that seems a stupid idea to me. Surely one leg to decide it is enough!? I'll probably find out now that the semi's are no longer two legged and that the game will go to replays... if so, ask me again!
We don't have the squad size to really tinker and the League Cup is our best shot of Europe. Martin O'Neill will change the team around a bit but certainly not through a lack of respect for the cup, I hope he plays Shaun Maloney for example and he has already said he will give Curtis Davies a run out. Both are good players so we aren't replacing quality with kids. I think we have a chance, but so do about ten other clubs. A lot depends on how seriously the 'big' boys take the cup and also how lucky we are with the draw. I certainly wouldn't be putting too much money on it but it wouldn't be a major shock if we did progress well, as a football fan you have to dream a little dream I think!?
3. Like Leicester you have a new club owner in Randy Lerner, how have you found him? Has he provided the resources to make the team more competitive and do you agree with his vision for the club?
I think Randy has done well so far, he certainly seems to enjoy the history and heritage of the club and wants to add to it, not change things radically. I've been lucky enough to talk to him and he is a real gent and very down to earth. I think the off the field actions so far have really pushed Villa forward, the training ground is amazing, the fact he and the board are open and want to listen to fans is refreshing and the staff he has brought in are moving the business side forward. I must admit, along with many fans, I was mystified at the lack of transfer activity in the summer and think that might well cause us problems as the season progresses. If we'd managed a few 'big' signings, especially a top of the range striker, I think with the league being so open this year we could really have pushed for Europe. Thing is, the owner, the board and the manager all agreed the money was there, the lack of action therefore has to be put down to the manager. I hope his plan works out. As for Randy Lerner's vision for the club, I am sure we are in safe hands, only time will tell but the actions have spoken so much louder than words so far.
4. How do you think Villa will fair over the next few seasons? Is Europe a possibility? What about some silverware?
Europe is a must. We were European regulars, we have the stadium and fan base to sustain Europe and with a new owner like Randy, I'm sure he'll only be satisfied when we start competing on the big stage again. I think, if we can add to this sqaud - with all due respect hopefully with players of a slightly higher quality than the likes of Marlon Harewood - then we could be pushing for a Uefa Cup spot in the next season or so. With things so up in the air this season I'd not totally write us off but as I said earlier, I do fear the size of the squad could haunt us later in the season, unless January proves fruitful in the transfer window!
5. Finally, what are your thoughts for the match ahead, a home tie, pleased with the draw? Who will go through?
Fairly pleased, I am still haunted by some of the Foxes results against us in the past, but I always did enjoy the battles between both clubs. In a cup game anything can happen (that is my application to become a pundit, maybe I should have said early doors as well?) but I'd be surprised if you could turn us over with the current confidence running through our team. I don't think it will be a walkover though, maybe a 2-1 win to Villa!?
Answering the questions for us was J P Fear from Vital Villa, thanks!
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Full match preview will appear tomorrow, following by an analysis of the aftermath