Spyin' Kop: Aston Villa

Posted by Hinesy on April 6, 2006, 06:24:25 PM

For our younger readers ...

Aston Villa are members of an elite group that includes Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Man Utd. But not Chelsea, nor Arsenal, nor Newcastle, nor Tottenham ... what could this be? A group that Chelsea aren't part of? What does Villa have that Wenger wants?

Yes, a European Cup. Believe it or not, ole big ears went to Brum in '82.

Aston Villa kept the European Cup in England for the sixth consecutive year when they defeated Bayern Munich 1-0 in Rotterdam with a goal from Peter Withe. The mighty Bayern of Rummenigge, Augenthaler, Breitner and Hoeness lost for the first time in a European Final to Tony Barton's inspired team containing the likes of Trevor Morley, Gary Shaw, Gordon Cowans, Dennis Mortimer and Gary Spink (making only his second first team appearence as a 10th minute substitute).

But what of the Villains now?

Well, it's our last home game of a turblulent and interesting season. We've reached the final of the FA Cup and we all need a rest. So here instead of the usual high standard carefully crafted Spyin' Kop is mine. Enjoy.

The Club
Original members of the Football League in 1888, Aston Villa are one of the FA Premier League's oldest clubs. Formed in late 1874, Villa were the team to beat in the League's early years with a series of titles and FA Cup victories. A move to a purpose-built ground, Villa Park, from their Perry Barr home in 1897 came just a week after their league and FA Cup Double triumph that year. The Villains secured their sixth league title in 1910 and added further FA Cup glories in 1913 and 1920 as their trophy cabinet bulged. FA Cup success in 1957 and a League Cup triumph in 1961 increased their haul of silverware, but by 1970 Aston Villa were playing Third Division football. However, the club were about to enjoy a remarkable turn of fortunes, with two more League Cups and a return to the top flight followed by their greatest triumph - the European Cup in 1982. Villa lost their top-flight status in 1987 but an immediate return and another pair of League Cups in the 1990s helped the club prosper in the FA Premier League, in which they finished runners-up under Ron Atkinson in 1993. Graham Taylor, who left the club to manage England in 1990, returned to manage the side in 2002. Taylor left in May 2003 to be replaced by current incumbent David O'Leary.

Club Honours
European Cup Winners: 1982
League Champions: 1893-94, 1895-96, 1896-97,1898-99, 1899-00, 1909-10, 1980-81
FA Cup Winners: 1887, 1895, 1897, 1905, 1913, 1920, 1957
League Cup Winners: 1961, 1975, 1977, 1994, 1996
Charity Shield Winners: 1981

Club Facts
Year Formed: 1874 by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Aston, Birmingham.
Club Nicknames: 'The Villains'
Stadium Address: Villa Park, Trinity Road, Birmingham, B6 6HE
Capacity: 42,584

Many thanks to John Cresswell at villatalk.com and to Mike Field from holtenders.com for their prompt replies. Cheers lads.

1. Its the end of the season - how do you feel it has gone for you?

JC: I donít think words can describe how disappointing this season has been. I think I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times weíve played well this season. Itís been a poor season and the players know that. The thing that stops me getting angry is that they are all at fault, really. I canít say there has been one player who has played well this season.

MF : It's been another non-event really.  The only interesting things about Villa these days tend to be the inane actions of our chairman, who's actually been quite well behaved the last few months, and David O'Leary.  With the players we have we certainly shouldn't be fighting a relegation battle so in many ways it's just been a waste of a season.  You can't even say DOL has been building and good things will follow as the only things he seems to have achieved is in making us a laughing stock and destroying the foundations of what was quite a good setup.

2. How did your expectations for this season compare to the reality of April for Aston?

JC: I expected midtable at the beginning of the season. Oh, the life of a Villa fan! Injuries, poor refereeing decisions by the dozen hasnít helped, but on the whole weíve been poor, very poor. Itíd have been nice to at least bring in a loan player in January. But apparently we canít even afford that. Weíre now a club that canít afford a loan signing Ė at the moment Iíd be happy weíve staying up.

MF: Pretty much the same really, avoid relegation and at some point see a professional manager acting in a way commensurate with his salary.

3. Who do you think has been your most important player(s) this season?

JC: There isnít one. And thatís part of the problem. There is no leader on the pitch. Nothing.

MF: It's probably harsh but I don't think anyone has really stood out.  Davis, Barry, Hughes, Moore, Mellberg have been consistent and/or improved as the season has gone on but nobody has really performed to their potential, or changed games with their performances.

4. And your worst player(s)?

JC: Liam Ridgewell would grab this with both hands (like most balls into the penalty area) if he hadnít been forced to play there due to there being no other central defenders at the club. I guess this should go to JíLloyd Samuel who gave away quite a few goals at the beginning of the season then complained about being dropped. He rarely seems like he is fully concentrating on the game, and his confidence isnít the highest. A lot of them have been as bad as each other, to be brutally honest.

MF: David O'Leary without a doubt, the man's responsibility is to motivate and tactically prepare our players for each and every game.  He has systematically failed in that respect, let alone the idiotic statements to the press and the lies and disrespect he's shown the fanbase.  I find it hard to criticise or single out one or two individual players for their performances this season when it appears they are as interested in listening to our manager as most fans are.

5. Milan Baros? Good buy or Goodbye? Were you right to steal from us or wish you'd kept the receipt?

JC: Personally, I think heís been a good signing. Heís scored some very important goals for us, and when heís been out of the team weíve struggled to score and had poorer performances. There are quite a few thinking heís been a waste of money Ė people often complaining of diving, which, to be fair, he is guilty of. Apparently he didnít do this at Liverpool Ė I put it down to Liverpool being more favoured by referees, who have cost us at least six points this season Ė including the game against you lot at Villa Park. Not that youíll agree, naturally ...

MF: For the price, I think a lot of fans would like a partial refund.  As a player he's far more effective than Vassell ever was, he's putting them away but not with the consistency to justify his price tag.  I suppose ultimately the jury is still out as he has been dogged by injury, not helped by his national team and service to strikers has never been the greatest from our midfield to be honest.  That said we should never have got rid of Crouch!

6. Any youngsters/hot prospects coming through for next season?

JC: Erm, to be honest they are already in our team already Ė just because the plan seems to be to run any talent we do have into the ground. Winning the FA Youth Cup was the worst thing this club could have done Ė the old chap trying to run the club thinks that they are destined to stardom. Unfortunately it doesnít work out like that. Steven Davis could be huge, mind. Luke Moore looks like he could become handy and Gabriel Agbonlahor is raw but has fantastic pace. Too early to see if heíll be any good though.

MF: Cahill will be the next in line. Having received rave reports whilst onloan at Burnley only our idiotic manager could deny him appearances this season because he hasn't signed a new contract yet.  Outside of Cahill, these days it doesn't really matter because what fans think and what DOL does rarely matches.

7. Thoughts on the great Leprechaun? David O'Really or Nearly? Is he the man to keep?

JC: Heís not very good at PR, thatís for sure. Some people have decided that heís the antichrist and whatever he does is wrong. Others think he has made mistakes and should go. Me? Well, I donít really know. I rate him, but I think heís another manager who has become stale at Villa, frustrated by lack of support and any reforms trying to take the club further being met with a short sharp ďnoĒ from Doug Ellisís hospital bed.

MF: You may have an idea of my answer from things above.  It's more a case of David O'Not Even Close.  The man has to go.  Yes he has constraints working under Ellis, but supposed lesser managers have achieved more than him, had the team playing with a greater consistency and actually entertained.  The only thing David is proficient in is pissing of the fans, his own players and now the local media with his poor me attitude, nothing's my fault, and his lies to the fans. 

8. What sort of line-up do you expect he will set up against us?

JC: One full of patched up players, tired youth and others who arenít good enough. Itíll be 4-4-2, but with injuries etc itís hard to really say at the moment. Thatís of course, if heís still in charge. If he'd lost both of the recent derbies, I'd have expected him to be out of a job and us to be managed by some cheap replacement like Platt or Cowans.

MF: Depends who's fit or who's in DOL's good books to be honest.  Expect Couch to hit a hattrick and a lot of Villa fans to cheer!

9. Sometimes you play really well and beat good teams then you lose 73-0 to Arsenal. What's the deal?

JC: When we have the full team out, then we can beat the Evertons and Middlesbroughs of this world. Unfortunately we often canít field our best team and as a result we're totally crap in most of the games we play. Thatís what Iíd like to think, anyway.

MF: Sometimes we play really well?  When? Where?!  We have no spirit, no fight - there just isn't a will to win or to shed blood for the shirt anymore.

10. What do you expect in the way of singing/banter etc from our away support? Do we compare well and how do you rate the atmosphere at your ground?

JC: Erm, you were a little quiet at VP until the referee gave a penalty for some unexplained reason. Not that we can talk, Villaís home support is on the whole pretty poor. Mainly a few songs about Birmingham City and then booing the team and manager. Itís actually rather difficult to sit at Villa Park at the moment as I find this more frustrating than the football.

MF: Scousers are normally pretty fun to be fair - lots of banter and it's usually lighthearted in my experience.  Hopefully they will join in with any anti-chairman or manager chants, but then again DOL will probably say it was only the visiting support and that Villa fans are behind him.

11. Do you have any favourite chants and perhaps any that require an explanation?

JC: Not really. Anyone who tries to come up with something is normally ignored if it doesnít involve slagging off Birmingham City.

MF: Nothing new that stands out - you'll have heard them before. 

12. Where do you expect yourselves and Liverpool to finish come next week?

JC: I donít want to say where I expect, as it scares me slightly. As long as we stay up, thatíll do for now.

MF: I think you'll stay third to be fair, don't see you closing in on Man Utd now. For us, I'll simply be happy with anything above the bottom 3.

13. Which Liverpool player(s) do you fear the most?

JC: I dunno. Gerrard has run himself into the ground and is knackered, and everyone else seems to be a bit hit and miss, really. Iíll say Robbie Fowler, just because he always scores against us.

MF: For me it has to be Crouch, top man who will no doubt be out to stuff his boots up DOL's rectum.

14. Doug Ellis? Favourite Villain or Arch Villain?

JC: ďAston Villa is ran by Doug Ellis, for Doug EllisĒ Ė Graham Taylor. He didnít seem to get anything right in his second spell at the club, but he got that right when he left.

MF: I wouldn't even say arch villain, the less the man can relate to Villa the better in my opinion. He can leave with DOL as far as I'm concerned. Ellis' only saving grace at the moment is that the club have appointed Rothchilds to source investors and DOL is being such a muppet that it's taking the heat off him (again).

15. And your feelings on Liverpool this season? How well do you think Rafa has done?

MF: I think the main difference is he has you playing as a team again, you have some balance.  The core has always been there with different players over the years, same as Villa in many ways, but Rafa seems to have made it all gel together and with some astute signings to plug the gaps you are far more consistent than you have been for a while.  (That said Gerrard still dived for the penalty in the Euro!)

JC: I think heís done well. His choice of strikers seems to be a bit odd though. I think Liverpool lack a player who can create something out of nothing. But donít we all?

16. Who do you hate more? Baggies or Brummies?

JC: Me? Personally the local rivalry bores me. Every game is the same. Some clubs have more knobheads than others, but all this silly anger is a bit juvenile really. Thereís a definite bigger hate for Birmingham City than West Brom from the majority of fans though, Iíd wager.

MF: Both, I'm not one to discriminate.

17. And to finish, what's the score? Care to hazard a guess?

JC: Miserable loss by Villa. I expect Fowler to get close to a hatrick, so Iím saying 3-0 to you lot. Actually, sod it. 73-0 to the Villa.

MF: 4-1 to you, Crouchie for a hattrick!

Thanks chaps for your answers, very good of you. Enjoy the summer.

© Hinesy 2006

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