Opposing View - Aston Villa
What were your hopes/fears/expectations for the season?
The obvious hope was that McLeish would be able to hit the ground running and get a couple of wins under his belt given the feelings around his appointment. Sadly that hasn't happened and amongst the faithful there is little to be excited about at the moment. Some are convinced we are relegation fodder, and others like me who don't buy that would hope only for a finish around 8th place whilst we bring the youngsters through and see who can sink or swim in the league.
For a whole variety of reasons, even those who us who get clearly why we have had to put ourselves back on a sensible financial footing, haven't got a lot to cheer about at the moment.
Is mid-table good enough for a side that were challenging the top-four a few seasons ago (obviously the dynamic of the Premier League has changed, but....)?
It has to be because we were living ridiculously beyond our means. Those with faith think come the end of the season we will be back on a sensible footing and next summer we will show the ambition in the transfer market to give us another chance -but building sensibly this time -of breaking the top 6 before building towards cracking the top 4.
The summer should tell us a lot, no we shouldn't be happy with mid-table, yes most will be happy if we try - but despite the changing league and the almost pointless nature of the Premiership as a competition now, if Villa don't try again, don't attempt to build again and just put up with it - there will be a lot of unhappy people.
What's your opinion on Alex McLeish?
The same as it was when appointed, he'll have a steady career as a Premiership manager between 8-12 place. He's not the manager to take us further and push on like we all want.
Was investing the best part of your transfer budget on Charles N'Zogbia a shrewd investment?
With how he's played so far, no not really. Yes he's been in the press banging on about playing on the wrong side, not being able to take people on etc but he conveniently ignores the fact that he was equally as useless when he played on his favoured side, and he was still unable to pass a ball 10 yards or run past anybody whilst retaining that round thing they kick.
He could be, and should be, a very important player for us this season but he needs to pull his socks up and quickly. He shouldn't be ahead of Marc Albrighton (who equally hasn't started the season that well) and there are a growing number who would rather we brought through a couple of wingers from the reserves to give them a chance - despite their tender ages.
Are younger players like Eric Lichaj and Chris Herd really up to the task of first-team football or woefully exposing a lack of quality in depth at the club?
Only time will tell, but they need to be played and not overlooked to keep under performing seniors in the team. They might not make it, but we are certainly seeing more desire, commitment and effort from the younger lads again and for the second season in a row the youngsters are shaming the seniors.
How has Darren Bent done since his move?
He settled in to begin with really well, but with how we are set up (Agbonlahor on the left wing, Heskey in midfield) Bent isn't getting the service he needs. Give him 5 chances, he'll bury one. We aren't giving him enough to waste, and in turn he is spurning opportunities that you would put your house on him burying.
Who's the key man we should be looking out for on Saturday?
Heart says 2-1 to us, with a Benty brace. Head says I wouldn't be surprised to see us get our third loss on the bounce.
Cheers Mike, and here's hoping it's the latter!