think we have to start with asking, where has it all gone wrong for Villa this
It's kind of all gone wrong, to
be honest. We've had bad luck, players performing poorly, bad management, bad
tactics... I could go on. Earlier in the season, we actually weren't as terrible
as our record would suggest - I actually attribute at least 7 lost points to Tim
Sherwood's ridiculous substitutions (or non-substitutions) and questionable
tactics. After that, everything snowballed - the players lost confidence in
themselves, the fans got on their backs, the manager would run out of ideas. Not
much has gone right this season for the Villa.
Sherwood's replacement Remi Garde seemed a strange choice to most people, what
did you and Villa fans in general make of his appointment?
A number of fans were critical
of Garde's hiring, pointing to his lack of experience in English football and
questioning whether he had what it takes to save the club. But a far larger
number, myself included, were intrigued by Garde, and I've actually been more
impressed with him as the season's gone on. Let's be honest, he had an
impossible task on his hands when he first came in, and it's not like he had
very much to work with. But I think he's done well with what he's got. Of
course, with every Villa loss, there are those few who place the blame on Garde,
simply because their frustrations need to be directed at someone, so why not the
been a slight up-turn in results recently, have you finally turned the
corner? What's been the difference from just a few weeks back?
Shhhhh, don't jinx it. Garde
managed to stop the bleeding with a few draws here and there over the Christmas
period, but I can't emphasize how important that win over Palace was a few weeks
ago. It was getting to the point where I really didn't think we'd ever win a
game of football ever again. And I'm guessing it lifted an immense amount of
pressure from the dressing room, just breaking that winless streak. Garde has
repeatedly said that the players are severely lacking confidence, because who
wouldn't after the abysmal record we've had? I'm certainly not ready to say
we've turned a corner, but there are glimpses. Let's just say I've started to
peek out from behind my couch, just in case.
former Albion defender Joleon Lescott done for you so far?
He's been up and down. He
started off terribly, leaving fans wondering why we paid even a cent for him. To
be fair, he has come on in the past few weeks, steadying the chaotic back line a
bit, and it looked like his pairing with Jores Okore was developing nicely, and
to a certain extent, still is. But his effort on the goal Villa gave up last
weekend against Leicester
was pathetic. He basically just stopped, watching the ball loop over the head of
Mark Bunn - and when Bunn scrambled back to make a fantastic goal line save,
Okazaki had already breezed past the statuesque Lescott to put in an easy
rebound. Just a frustrating error by him, which has left me a bit annoyed by
him, if you couldn't already tell.
the club needs to do between now and the end of the transfer window? Are the
club likely to be active?
I think Garde will bring in a
few fresh faces. Like I mentioned before, there's been a few signs of life over
the past few weeks, and one or two new players could turn those draws into
crucial wins. I highly expect a goalkeeper to be brought in (we're being linked
to the Croatian keeper Lovre Kalinic), as Brad Guzan has been extremely shaky
between the sticks this season. We could also use some full-backs, after we lost
left back Jordan Amavi earlier in the season and have yet to really replace him,
and right back Alan Hutton plays more like a professional wrestler at this point
than an actual footballer.
question… Can you stay up?
If you had asked me two weeks
ago, no way. I think the entire fan base was preparing for life in the
Championship next season. And as soon as I had made my peace with that, Villa go
and screw it up, as they so often do. I'm still saying we've dug ourselves too
deep of a hole to get out of, but.... if we continue to turn things around, put
a few wins together, you never know, especially with how crazy the whole league
has been this season. Now that I've said that though, Villa probably won't win a
single game the rest of the year.
players stood out for Villa this season?
The one player who has
consistently performed is Jordan Ayew. He never got much of a chance under
Sherwood (another mistake by Tim), but since Garde has come in, Ayew has been
our best player, by far. He always wants to be on the ball and make things
happen, and he shows the passion and fight that this team has lacked for so
long. If we do end up going down, it'll be a shame that we'll lose him, because
he's been so much fun to watch, but he's definitely too good for the
been particularly disappointing?
EVERYONE. So many players. Not
many of them have been able to hold their heads up high. Promising youngster
Jack Grealish has been relegated to the bench, ineffective even when he does
play, so he's lost his way for sure over the past few months. I've also already
mention Brad Guzan, who's normally pretty reliable. But I could say that about
any of the players, really.
Villa likely to line up on Saturday?
Garde has kept the same team for
the past few weeks, as it seems like he may have settled on something that
works, so I'd be surprised if he didn't continue the 4-3-3 formation we've had a
bit of success with. That would be a team of Bunn; Bacuna, Okore, Lescott,
Cissokho; Veretout, Gueye, Westwood; Ayew, Kozak, Gil. If there was one change I
could see being made, it would be Gestede up top in place of Kozak, particularly
with West Brom's physicality in the box.
the game and prediction?
It's certainly a big game for
Villa, as we try to keep whatever momentum we've scrounged up over the past few
weeks going. Plus, we were dreadful in our last match against West Brom, so I'd
certainly like to see an improvement over that debacle. Prediction? I can see it
going both ways, honestly, so I'll say a 1-1 draw because I'm boring.