Date: 23rd August 2007 at 6:44am
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Ahead of our clash with Aston Villa this weekend, we took time out to talk to the Vital Aston Villa editor, Mr Fear.

1) Are you disappointed that Lerner and O’Neill haven’t spent big on foreign stars this summer?

Not bothered what country the players come from to be fair, foreign or British would do me, just think it is a shame we – as it stands – have 19 players in the squad + one loan. I thought Villa would put down their marker in the transfer window this summer but the lack of activity isn’t down to a lack of money, so it makes the situation even more confusing. I still hope we’ll get some players in before the deadline!

2) Are the fans frustrated, do they think O’Neill is the right man for the job?

I don’t talk for everyone, just me! The feelings on the forums are mixed. Most seem surprised or shocked at the lack of signings, some have questioned the manager, some the board. My finger points to the manager and I must say not having a recognised right-back in place for the first game of the season and no goalkeeping cover on the bench did seem a bit ‘off’ to put it mildly. I think he has to have at least this season to prove what he can do though, although I am not that sure how patient Villa fans feel like being these days, it took years for Ellis to go and during that time we often had managers moaning at the lack of funds. Now we have the funds and a squad smaller than ever. Time will tell how we do this season and as said, there is still time in the transfer window – I think most expect far more action though.

3) Will Marlon Harewood be a success at Villa?

Brian ‘walks on water’ Little said in the press today that he can be, who am I to argue with such a fabulous Villa man? I think many (most?) fans were shocked at the signing, if he was a squad addition brought in after a few star signings, maybe people would have seen it as a great move, but as our main striker purchase… not sure. Again, got to give the lad a chance, he scored 16 odd for West Ham two seasons ago but to be fair, I’m not sure who I am trying to convince here, you or me.

4) How long will O’Neill be given to get Villa into Europe?

Good question. Not sure really. My personal belief is we should have spent this summer and could have been contenders, we might still be. I can’t see that the new owner Randy Lerner came to Villa to hang around though and he knows we are a big club who could be European regulars so if the manager – the highest paid person at any club – doesn’t do the business, I wouldn’t expect him to remain as the highest paid person at the club! What we don’t need though is the manager-merry-go-round that we had at Villa under Doug Ellis. Hopefully Martin O’Neill will do the business. If he doesn’t I wouldn’t be surprised to see him walk rather than waiting to get pushed. He seems a fairly humble guy and one who is very self aware.

5) Do fans like the term ‘Sleeping Giant’ when pundits talk about Villa?.

Absolutely love it! 🙁

In all honesty, I don’t think many take much notice, we were top six regulars for many years, we did finish runners up in the Premiership in its inaugural year, we all know what the club is capable of, just hope we can do it again.

I remember Tony Morley (Villa winger who was part of our heyday in Europe for those too young to remember!) saying Villa was a sleeping giant but who is to say it will ever wake up. Well, we now have a good board in place, a very rich owner, so the rest is hopefully just ready to click into place!

6) Why sell Liam Ridgwell, possibly a great player in the making to your local rivals and for only two million?

Why sell any of our players to anyone before having replacements? Can’t answer the question, only the manager can do that and hopefully it will all become clear as the season progresses.

7) If you could bring one player back from the past, be it McGrath, Saunders etc, who would you bring back?

Paul McGrath to play alongside Martin Laursen would be sublime! Brian Little to get the goals. Dennis Mortimer to boss the midfield alongside Andy Townsend and if I may be greedy, Sid Cowans and Tony Morley back. Hey, might just as well take Andy Gray in his prime back as well if you would be so kind.

8) Has it surprised you that Fulham have recruited so heavily this summer?

Not really, although it has surprised me you’ve not had to sell so many this summer.

9) Which of our signings would you consider to be the best?

Steven Davis. I`m really not sure why we sold him and especially not so cheaply.

10) Which of our players would you like to see in a Villa shirt?

Maybe Aaron Hughes as I believe he can play at right-back! 🙁 I’d have liked to see Steven Davis develop in a Villa shirt as well but one of your existing players, probably Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag Papa Bouba Diop or whatever his name is.

11) Can you see Villa signing Liam Rosenior?

Honestly no idea. I can see us getting a handful of players, I can see us getting no one. I was very optimistic at the start of the summer, now I’m just waiting to be pleasantly surprised!

12) And finally what are your expectations for Villa this season and where do you see Fulham finishing?

I think we’ll finish above Fulham, if we get no more signings I’d put us about 10th, maybe pushing top 8 IF we remain injury free. Fulham, just below the top ten maybe?

As for Saturday, a home win for Villa because in my opinion it HAS to be a home win for Villa.

Our thanks go to Mr Fear for taking the time out to talk to us here at Vital Fulham.


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