Ahead of Saturday's crunch clash at The Hawthorns, we spoke again with Villa fan Rory from the blog
7500 To Holte. He gives us his views on the Villans' struggles this season, Remi Garde, Joleon Lescott, and more. You can follow the blog on twitter @7500toHolte or Rory himself @RorySkehan

I think we have to start with asking, where has it all gone wrong for Villa this season?

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. 

Tim 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 manager?

There's 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. 

How's 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 City 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. 

Anything 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. 

The big 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. 

Have any 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 Championship. 

Has anyone 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. 

How are 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. 

Thoughts on 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.

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