Interview with Vital Villa
1) Been struggling as of late are you worried that your season could end the same as last year and fade away into nothing?
It's certainly a big concern and worry again. Ok we've broken the March hoodoo finally, but there's still a significant lack of rotation that means some players are on their last legs come the final 30 mins of every game and whilst there's some debate as to whether that has cost us already, I think there can be no dispute that if things continue this way it will have cost us come the end of the season.
2) How do you rate your season so far?
This is a tricky one because for all intents and purposes we are still within touching distance of the Top 4 and mathematically there's no reason why we couldn't finish there, and of course we've had two good Cup runs this year but the pleasure and hope you can feel from that is countered by the fact we've struggled for wins, drawn way too many games we needed 3 points in, the moons have to be aligned with my daughters elbow before we look like scoring, you seriously tinted claret and blue specs to work out why we waited years for a right back and now we have two almost permanently on the bench and whilst the media still seem to think we play fast, counter attacking football, the reality is we often look devoid of ideas, our passing can be atrocious and we resort to doing a Wimbledon way too often which is all ridiculous given the obvious quality we have. When we play well, we are a delight to watch, but sadly that doesn't seem to happen very often anymore.
3) What improvements are needed in order to make Villa an established top 5 side?
We need a proper goalscorer for a start so we stop relying on 'nicking' games 1-0 and can start finishing teams off during our 45 min turn up periods. Outside of that we seriously still need a Plan B either by finding a different system with the players who never get off the bench, or by being able to change things with the first team. Again lack of ideas, and being predictable in how we attack counts against us too often and causes us to draw games we should've already put to bed.
The annoying thing for many is we are so close, it's just that final piece of the jigsaw or being prepared to really shake up the formation and remove the favourites from the pitch when it's not working for them, that lets us down.
4) How do you rate Steve Bruce and his squad this season?
Well when you look at Darren Bent and his goal contribution, surely you should be much higher up the table? I'm not sure what to make of Bruce to be honest, he isn't popular with some Villans because he was a Blue Nose at one point! However he seems to move jobs far too often and that is surely a worry for you all? Really not sure if he will prove, in the long run, to be a top manager or not, I have my doubts.
5) Who do you think will finish fourth?
Heart says we could pull it the bag and pick up the points we need to grab it for ourselves but my head says we've put ourselves out of the running by not being able to capitalise on our games in hand and take maximum points from Stoke and Wolves. We got 5 points out of those 3 matches, and I think we needed at least 7 to put us closer to Man City. So I think Man City will have it unfortunately.
6) Should Sunderland go all out on Wednesday and try and upset you again at home?
I think you'd be daft if you didn't. It often feels like we have more chance of keeping a clean sheet than scoring when we don't turn up, so realistically if you could get your noses in front we would struggle and even though we seem to have developed a knack for coming from behind, it'd at least get you a point. That said, like always there's too many if's and buts'. If Carew plays like we know he can he could destroy you, if Ash is on form and so on, too many times this season we haven't turned up home or away - we do lack that consistency. What I will say though is if Cuellar at right back again, just avoid him, he's been phenomenal for us at right back and you'll get no joy whatsoever so aim for Warnock or Dunne when you attack.
All that said though just camp yourself on the halfway line and make it easy for us, we need the 3 points.
7) Which player are you worried about for Sunderland?
That has to be Darren Bent.
It'll be a game of two halves. Will last roughly 94 minutes. Sidwell will get on the pitch around 78ish minutes but I think we'll nick it 1-0.