Q&A : Aston Villa V Fulham...
We asked Jonathan at Vital Aston Villa some questions prior to our game at the weekend.
Here are his replies......
1) What do you predict the score be on Saturday?
A home win is very much on the cards, we are a very tough team at the moment and should have our shooting boots on against Fulham. Not a walkover though, so I'll go with an optimistic 2-0!
2) Where do you think Villa will finish in the league this season?
Top ten is very much on and if we get luck with injuries - considering we are still a very small squad - and a few quality arrivals in January, then we could push for a Uefa Cup spot, but that will take a few slices of luck as well. With the start we have made who knows, we could just do it, especially with O'Neill weaving his magic! We do need to realise the re-building job could take a while though.
3) Will O'Neill continue to play Juan Pablo Angel, after that OG and Penalty miss V Spurs?
I would think so. It was a shame, he missed a couple of good chances as well but he is trying to give 100%, he covers ever blade of grass and is getting stuck in. A couple of goals and he'll be back up and running. As Luke Moore is injured, Chris Sutton isn't yet fully match fit and Baros isn't exactly firing on all cylinders, I think Angel will be in the mix again.
4) Realistically Can Aston Villa qualify for the Champions League or the UEFA Cup this season?
The Champions League is a realistic target for a club this size but I'd be shocked if we were close this season, I guess that would depend on who (if anyone) we can bring in during the January transfer window. I doubt that there will be many quality players available half way through the season, so might have to wait for the summer for the main action. UEFA is a realistic prospect, we always used to qualify for Europe as a matter of course, however we do still have a small squad (copyright David O'Leary) so have to hope players don't pick up too many injuries.
5) What do you know about Fulham?
The usual, small club who built well and have established themselves as a mid to lower table club, Fayed as owner, fairly loyal to their managers but do seem to have to sell their star players.
6) Who is the Aston Villa player of the season so far?
Gareth Barry, the lad is quality. I've been saying it for years!
7) Are you happy with what O'Niell has done so far this season?
Delerious. I shouted over to him (I sit by the bench) the other week 'I don't know what you are doing, but its a bloody miracle'. Behind his back he stuck his thumbs up!!!
8) Are you happy with the players that O'Neill has bought in?
He's not really started yet to tell you the truth. Stiliyan Petrov looks a great buy, he seems to be a quality player, so top marks with him. Didier Agathe is a no risk player who is on a short term contract and looked good when he came on as a sub against Spurs, so to make up the numbers that is a sensible move and the player will no doubt be up for the fight in order to get a long term contract. Chris Sutton is a proven striker, some don't like him because he played for Birmingham City but to be honest, I don't care at all about that, he has always scored goals and if he can get and stay fit, he'll do a job for us until the summer. We certainly need the extra bodies in the squad. It would have been nice if we'd got James Milner as well, he was in talks but Freddie Shepherd pulled the plug on the deal. Not sure if O'Neill will return for him now or if the budget might stretch to more established players.
We thank Jonathan for his honest opinions and answers.
It will be a difficult game for us and one that we really need to win.
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