Ahead of Saturday's big derby game at The
Hawthorns, we caught up once more with Villa fan David, from
My Old Man Said.
He gives his views on Villa's season so far, Paul Lambert,
Roy Keane, the Baggies
and more. You can also find My
Old Man Said on Twitter @oldmansaid
IT'S BEEN SOMETHING OF AN UP AND
DOWN SEASON FOR VILLA. YOU HAD A GOOD START FOLLOWED BY AN AWFUL RUN, BEFORE
FINDING SOME DECENT FORM AGAIN DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. HOW ARE VILLA
FANS VIEWING THE SEASON SO FAR?
Beginning the season with three
wins and a draw in the first four fixtures, it was beginning to feel that the
Lambert roadshow was finally up and running after two seasons of abject failure.
However, as we’ve experienced several times under Lambert already, turning
points seem to head straight into a cul-de-sac of doom and gloom.
The punishment for Villans
daring to have positive thoughts? A six game losing streak. With the team
reaching nine games without a win, Lambert was potentially one game away from
serious ‘enough is enough’ fan uproar. But the win against Palace, followed by
beating Leicester at Villa Park and that nine winless run suddenly flipped to
five games unbeaten and effectively kept Lambert in a job until the end of the
season and beyond.
With a pretty extensive injury
list, Keane’s coming and going, the uncertainty of Delph and Vlaar not signing
new contracts, there’s still a feeling that the season hasn’t really started
PAUL LAMBERT, HOW DO THE MAJORITY OF FANS
CURRENTLY FEEL ABOUT HIM?
The knives are very much out. In
my book, any manager who only rattles up 38 points in a season for a club like
Villa should go, especially after a record 10 home defeats (and only 41 points
the season before). Based on his record alone he should have gone. How he
managed to get a new four-year contract still amazes most supporters. The board
had been wanting to renew his contract since the beginning of the year, but poor
results meant it would have only caused uproar. They then timed it hours after
Villa had beaten Liverpool to go four unbeaten. After Lambert signed it, Villa
didn’t win again for nine matches.
If the board are happy with
Lambert’s performance so far it simply indicates that there has been a serious
downgrading of ambition at the club. Most of Lambert’s signings have failed and
have consequently been sold on or loaned out. At the moment the only strain of
respect he holds is landing Christian Benteke who is world class. Unfortunately,
due to the lack of quality around him and strategy in place, the Belgian’s only
role has been helping Villa avoid relegation when he should be the extra
dimension that helps us compete for a Top Six spot and be a danger in the cups.
Still, the manager merry-a-round
in the rest of the Premier League is a joke, but Lambert needs to reward the
supporter’s patience (and suffering) with clear evidence that he is the man for
TO MOST PEOPLE IT WAS A STRANGE
MOVE, YOUR TAKE ON ROY KEANE'S TIME AT VILLA PARK?
To me, it made perfect sense at
the time. The club was up for sale, so it was like an interim appointment. If a
new owner came in and wanted a new management team, then that’s where the logic
of appointing Keane as a stop-gap came in (it’s also why Lambert was given grace
after picking up just 38 points the season before!)
Keane was entertaining at the
start with his beard and book, and it lifted Villa’s profile a little bit from
this stagnant bore they had become in the eyes of the national media. It also
distracted the attention away from Lambert. As results turned bad, Keane’s
increasing press coverage timed with every international break seemed to be
self-serving and Villa fans began to tire of this.
When he took the Villa job,
Keane had previously declared that if Ireland lost ‘three or four on the
bounce’, he would leave Villa. However, there was no such provision from him for
Villa losing ‘SIX on the bounce’…
Unfortunately, as it turned out
there was no new owner in place, so the club sank deeper into limbo. The new CEO
came in and seemed to suggest in an interview that Randy Lerner was
reinvigorated in his interest of Villa. Typically, Villa supporters have heard
jack from the horse’s mouth. As a result, Keane was number two to Lambert, with
no end in sight, when perhaps he’d only seen it as a temporary deal. It’s hard
to imagine him wanting to play second fiddle to Lambert for too long.
There are reports that Keane
fell out with some players and that was the catalyst for him leaving.
Regardless, since Keane has left the club Villa have been unbeaten. So now his
time at the club is seen as nothing more than an amusing interlude.
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE IS CLEARLY A
HUGE PLAYER FOR VILLA, JUST HOW GOOD IS HE AND DO YOU FEEL HE'LL STILL BE A
VILLA PLAYER THIS TIME NEXT YEAR?
I think Benteke is up there and
could potentially be one of the top five strikers in the world, he just doesn’t
have a team around him at the moment. Also there is a question about him being
injury-prone, but maybe he just gets knackered carrying the team on his
The biggest shame for him
personally was being injured for the World Cup, he could have seriously made his
reputation there and earnt Villa a good few million along the way. It’s unlikely
he would have stuck around, if he had set the tournament alight.
Due to the limitations of
Villa’s midfield, Benteke either has to create chances himself (ala his winning
goal against Palace, where he picked the ball up from the half-way line) or is
used as a target man. It’s a bit of a waste as the Belgian has a decent first
touch and is clever when the ball is played into his feet.
It would be interesting to see
him play with a brighter football brain in attacking-midfield behind him, ala
Joe Cole or Jack Grealish, who haven’t had a proper run when Benteke has played.
It could totally change Villa as an attacking force.
ONE OF THE GOAL SCORERS FROM LAST
SEASON'S CORRESPONDING FIXTURE, ASHLEY WESTWOOD, WILL MISS THE HAWTHORNS' CLASH
DUE TO INJURY. HOW MUCH OF A BLOW IS HIS ABSENCE?
Westwood as the cliché goes is
one of Villa’s unsung heroes, but seems to be a 7/10 type of midfielder. He’s
never going to control the midfield for Villa or take the game by the scruff of
the neck. He’s tidy and would benefit from more of a presence alongside him, but
at the moment it’s not the end of the world if he’s out. If Jack Grealish plays
instead most Villans would be happy with that. In all likelihood though, it’ll
probably be Kieran Richardson who fills his boots.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON SO FAR?
It’s hard to look past Alan
Hutton. A few Villa players have been written off only to come good, but I’ve
never seen such a ‘zero to hero’ rise like his.
He was the subject of a lot of
flak from supporters in his first season when Alex McLeish brought him in - his
tackling was rash and he offered little going forward. When Lambert
discarded him to the bomb squad (he didn’t play once last season for Villa),
there were few who contested the decision, although in hindsight it seems a
Still, there was a growing
sympathy for Hutton during his exile as results were going against Villa.
Especially, as Villa were bleeding £30,000-ish a week on his wages. It’s now
seen as a black mark against Lambert, as his hardline stance backfired when this
pre-season he recalled all the players he’d exiled. While Darren Bent
understandly still wasn’t happy with his treatment, Hutton kept his head down
and just got on with it. He started pre-season as our third choice right-back,
now we’d wince if there was any other name on the teamsheet at the right-back
position but him.
It is incredible that Hutton
recently signed a new contract after how he was treated, but he seems like a
different player and it was a nice moment for him against Leicester last weekend
scoring his first goal for Villa in front of the Holte.
ANYONE BEEN PARTICULARLY DISAPPOINTING?
Ron Vlaar being prone to injury
is particularly disappointing, especially since he always goes missing for the
busy Christmas period. His injury record was the main reason he didn’t end up at
a ‘big club’ earlier in his career.
While I’d prefer to have Vlaar
in the Villa squad, with Jores Okore stepping up in recent games, if Villa can
get a few million for Vlaar, I for one wouldn’t lose much sleep.
PREDICTION FOR VILLA'S SEASON?
I have no idea. A lot depends on
the January window. One or two decent players could make a real difference and
finally fire us back into the top-half. But if Delph and Vlaar go and our injury
curse continues or if anything happens to Benteke, then we could be slumming it
in the lower regions once again.
Lambert needs to take the FA Cup
seriously this season simply to lift supporter’s spirits. His track record in it
so far is not acceptable.
PREDICTION FOR ALBION'S SEASON?
I haven’t really watched
Albion this season, so it’s hard to make any clear cut
assumptions. I’ll obviously have a better idea after this weekend’s game. I
don’t think any team has had an easy game against you guys this season and that
suggests you’re a more solid team than certainly the promoted teams.
PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPS?
Chelsea - if they have a good
Christmas. Manchester City continuing in the Champions League will help them and
keep it an even playing field.
I would say it's between the
current bottom five including your good selves. With last year's promoted teams
PREDICTION AND THOUGHTS ON SATURDAY'S GAME?
I think it’ll be a decent litmus
test to how Villa will do this season. So far our losing run was largely against
teams you’d expect to beat us and our recent ok form is against teams we should
beat on paper. Baggies away is a game where a point is acceptable and a win is a
If Lambert conjures up wins
against the Baggies and Manchester United, we might have to wipe the slate clean
this season with him.