Date: 24th September 2011 at 6:08pm
Written by:

Mike from Vital Villa swings by with his views on Alex McLeish, Randy Lerner and more importantly Queens Park Rangers full-back Luke Young.

For Boxer’s interview on Vital Villa: Click Here >>>

1. A new season – a new man at the helm, what was your initial reaction to Alex McLeish’s appointment and has what he has done thus far changed your views?

Bemused, confused, and bewildered to be absolutely honest – but just like Houllier, I see why he was appointed from a paper point of view.

Plenty of fans threw at the board that we ‘didn’t go for our man’ and get him (whoever he may have been) when Houllier was appointed. This time round it seems ‘our man’ became available and we moved heaven and earth to get him quickly….but this was a man from our local rivals, a man with a less than erm favourable Premiership record, and a man nobody really thought would be appointed.

McLeish is a man who speaks about our tradition, his joy at being given ‘our’ top job and a man who spoke to the fans and made promises. This is also a man that saw protests at Villa Park, and was somebody that clearly would never have a honeymoon period…but the board were convinced.

All talk aside though, all he’s succeeded in doing on the pitch so far is sorting our defence out. Which isn’t difficult, given they actually want to perform this season. He has in no way proved he is good enough to have been offered the job and patience for many has already run out.

So he hasn’t changed my initial view that he’s not good enough to take what was good about us, and improve us further, so we really push on again. I’m however praying I’m wrong and it will click soon for us.

2. Randy Lerner is the man who came into Villa Park and swept away many – he seems to keep a lower profile nowadays, what are your views on him?

Randy has no lower a profile now than he did when he took control of the club to be honest, a lot of the anger in the fanbase comes from him being so quiet really.

McLeish is the first real mistake I think he has made. Houllier was a gamble, but on paper Houllier should’ve done better and he probably would’ve done had it not been for some players at this club who clearly last season objected to having to work for a living.

Randy gave us the shot, he put the money in for us to try, without going over old ground it didn’t work, we ended up with a ridiculous wage bill of players who weren’t played, so at some point we had to change tact. I don’t blame him for that. We are now doing the right thing financially, but as a club we aren’t explaining that well enough to the fans.

The wage bill has to be in hand now, the club should be in the position of not making yet another loss, so further investment should come in January and the summer to get us back on track again, with McLeish having had 6-12 months to assess which youngsters will make it, and which won’t.

So he should have a very clear idea on where we need to strengthen. I can understand the last window being quiet so he could fully judge what he has, I won’t understand it if we don’t have a busy summer again though, as we lack proper quality and options, and there are players in the starting XI that we should be looking to replace next season anyway.

3. An undefeated start – it’s been a positive Premier League start, what’s been the secret?

Has it. We may be undefeated, but to call that positive proves you don’t watch us lol. Our defence has got its act together. We have 30 minutes in a match where we attack like we should but it’s not consistent enough, 30 mins out of 90 isn’t good.

Our secret if we have one, is we try for 30 minutes (and we look good and dangerous), but if after 30 mins (wherever it comes in the match), we aren’t 3-0 ahead, we resort to 11 behind the ball and go forward with gusto very infrequently after that.

We are playing some good stuff at points, but it’s not often enough, and we are also now prone to some hugely sloppy passing during a game, that is biting us.

4. Luke Young joined QPR from Villa in the summer transfer window, what do you think of him as a player and what did you think of the deal to take him away from Villa Park?

We paid over the odds for him to be fair, and then used him wrongly for the most part, at left back for example, but he rarely let us down. A good player moving to the latter years of his career now. You got him on the
cheap and he’ll do a good job for you.

When Hutton settles in I think we’ll have replaced him with somebody of similar quality, probably on similar wages, but with Hutton being 26 we gain the benefit of extra years. But it is a risky move as Luke was very consistent for us in the main.

5. A couple of new additions came in, including Alan Hutton and JermaineJenas – what did you make of McLeish’s dealings? – is there a player you felt you missed out on?

Not really, because we really weren’t in for anyone else apart from the odd midfield rumour of Joe Cole or old boy Steven Davis. If either of those had come off, Jenas wouldn’t have come in I don’t think. I wouldn’t have minded Joe Cole if he could recover his form though, a far superior player on his day to Jenas in my mind.

Given, N’Zogbia, Hutton and Jenas….steady, experienced players to really tighten us up in the main, although Jenas is yet to kick a ball in anger, and N’Zogbia and Hutton haven’t found their feet yet. Can’t really complain as it is and should lead to plenty of opportunities for our younger lads to show what they can do, but the surprise was with the feeling surrounding the appointment of McLeish that more wasn’t spent to cheer the fans up a bit.

6. Previously Villa were knocking on the door of Europe, but the aspirations have somewhat changed – what have you made of the last couple of campaigns?

I’m not sold on the fact that aspirations have changed yet, it’s just a realisation that the way we had ended up trying to achieve those aims simply wasn’t sustainable. Lerner came in and the message was natural growth, use of the youngsters, and building a foundation for success as opposed to buy, buy, buy. That was what we deviated from by getting so close, and the club commercially couldn’t maintain that, so reverting to the original plan makes complete sense.

But as said the club just haven’t explained that well enough to fans, and with everything else going on, O’Neill, Houllier, McLeish, then Downing deciding he wanted to jump ship after McLeish categorically said he wasn’t going anywhere. Feelings are high and it feels like one blow after another, where it’s all doom and gloom and there’s no hope at all.

Next summer should tell us a lot.

7. What do you come to expect from QPR this weekend, and what is your impression of matters at Loftus Road?

You seem very up and down which is to be expected being new to league, but from the little I’ve seen of you, you seem to like knocking it around and playing football, more than defending for your life and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. Although it is difficult to warm to any team with Joey Barton in it!

8. Is there a player in the Rangers line-up that you’d like to have at Villa Park?

Barton’s talent, without the mentality would do me.

9. Conversely is there a Villa player that QPR fans would be foolish overlook this weekend?

Barry Bannan if he starts. Gets stuck in and has a splendid eye for a ball.

10. Finally, your Villa starting eleven and a prediction sir!

Hopeful but it’ll never happen.

Hutton, Clark, Collins, Warnock,
Albrighton, Delph, Gardner, Bannan,
Agbonlahor, Weimann.

2-1 to us, we have to win eventually again!

Many thanks to Mike – and all the best to our friends at Vital Villa beyond Saturday


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