Vital Swansea Interviews A Villa Fan
1. Hardly anyone apart from our own fans gave Swansea City a chance of avoiding relegation this season in the Premier League. How does this compare with your own expectations of the Swans this year? Have we surprised you at how well we've done so far?
I must admit short of knowing you played the game properly and were entertaining to watch from brief highlights I saw of you before promotion, I knew very little about your club so were expecting both you and Norwich really to do another Blackpool. Explode and then fade.
So my expectations of how you would do have been reasonably consistent with how you have played so far. Time will tell if you'll fade enough for the drop, but you're looking comfortable at the moment with the teams that are below you.
2. Talking about our good start to the campaign, do you think the Swans can keep it going and maintain our top flight status for another year?
With how the clubs below you are performing at the moment I wouldn't be surprised to see you stay up as long as you maintain some sort of consistency in results and carry on beating those around you so you can build a buffer.
It's too early to say for definite, but it's almost tempting at the moment to put money on the current bottom two clubs to still be there come the end of the season, so you only need to be one point ahead of whoever sits on top of them.
3. Alex McLeish. Please explain the club's decision to appoint him. What is the general opinion of him now and has it changed much since when he first arrived?
If I could explain the reasons behind why we appointed him I'd probably be sitting on the board.
I had him down as somebody who could achieve top 8ish positions regularly, but not the manager to push us forward. That certainly at the moment seems to have been a rose tinted view given how we are playing. To an outsider, sitting in 8th place it looks like a good start and that's exactly how most of the media are portraying it - proving that they don't watch us anywhere near as closely as they should.
The general view on him, well you only need to know his relegation record and most fans couldn't get past that, let alone his Blue connection, so he was on a hiding to nothing to begin with. Results, performances and team selection choices so far have only made that worse.
Many of those prepared to try and give him time, have lost patience. There is an immense amount of anger now and a good few thousand are voting with their feet.
4. 8th in the table isn't a bad start to the season is it? But it seems that the fans still aren't happy with McLeish at all. What were your expectations this season?
As above, a lot of fans would argue the league position is false because we haven't really faced any of the difficult teams yet apart from Man City and Spurs, and we got mullered in both of them, and have hardly covered ourselves in glory in the others.
The performances have been dire, we are amateurish at points and we set out in every game not actually trying to win. We regularly have Heskey in midfield, against Spurs we had a right back on the wing, and the same old tired players who let us down nigh on every game are undroppable again - whereas the players who at least seem interested and try and put a shift in, can't get off the bench.
Expectation wise most were probably looking at top 8, but we expected to see the youngsters really given a good go at things. Yes Chris Herd and Barry Bannan and Fabian Delph have been given somewhat of a chance, but Delph was only pulled out the squad when injured - not because he wasn't on form. Bannan plays a blinder and then gets dropped or finds himself back on the bench, Herd plays a blinder and then gets dropped, and most of the time just so we can shoehorn Heskey back in for example.
Admittedly Albrighton hasn't started this season as he ended the last, but we have a right back on the wing instead of giving him a shot in the last match. We've got Clark nursing a numb bum because McLeish won't drop the one of the two liabilities at centre half, and we've just loaned out Baker who is our back up left back thesedays.
Many fans, had we bloodied the youngsters properly instead of sticking with the failed seniors, would be no where near as angry because blooding the youngsters would at least serve a purpose, it would help develop them, and we'd gain in the long term.
Nobody at the moment can see where we are gaining anything from how we are set up. This was meant to be the transitional season where our youngsters would be allowed to sink or swim before presumably bolstering the squad with new signings....use our academy to its fullest before paying over the odds again.
They just aren't being given the chance properly, and it doesn't feel like we are gaining anything by sticking with the senior players. Yes the youngsters will make mistakes as they learn, but the seniors are making mistakes anyway.
5. What are your feelings ahead of Sunday's match at Swansea? Are you confident you can get back to winning ways in South Wales?
No. A lot of fans are nervous because we see another Norwich coming where you play us to death. Without meaning to be disrespectful, for us, with the names in our team, this is another of those games where we would expect to take all 3 points and put in a decent performance. We've had a few of those this season, even our wins (short of Blackburn) haven't been convincing. In the others we seemed to have grabbed a draw from the jaws of defeat and played for the most part like a pub team.
There is very little confidence or belief that McLeish will even make the right changes to give us a shot in the game and it's why some are alerady mentioning relegation and if not that far, at least concern for where we'll finish because the start to the season was our chance to get points on the board before we played the teams we'd be happy to take a draw from. There a good number of fans who don't think we'll gain a point in the month of December given who we have to face now.
6. What or who are your strengths and weaknesses to look out for in the Villa side this weekend?
Our weaknesses are far easier to answer. Our defence is a liability when you play through them, and whilst we are still reasonable I suppose on crosses, we are pathetic from set pieces. Midfield isn't that much better on the whole, and we are completely predictable in attack - it all in the main goes through Gabby.
I'm making the assumption that our talent will be on the bench for the game, so you don't need to worry about midfielders who will chase and hassle, or midfielders that can actually open a defence with a pass or put in a decent cross, so if you double mark Gabby Agbonlahor and make sure he doesn't have a stormer, you'll have an easy day.
If my assumption is right, for our strengths, take a 30 second look at the bench and if we are true to form you might get to see one of them, possibly Bannan, for about 15 minutes and you watch the effort he puts in and you watch how he pings a ball around and you'll get in an instant why so many of us are bemused at the choices Alex makes.
7. Where do you think Villa will finish in the table this season?
With how we are playing at the moment I would gladly take 15th!
8. And the Swans?
I see you in the four above the bottom three.
9. Some pundits and managers have praised the Swansea City style of football and have welcomed it into the Premier League. Others question whether we should even be in the English league altogether, what's you opinion on this? And how does Swansea's passing style compare to yours? Would you prefer to see a more attractive style or are results always the most important thing?
It's football, it's a delight to watch and I'm sure I remember somewhere that one of the joys of football is to be entertained.
As for the bit of whether you should be in the league, I think that's a nonsense - I don't know your history but it's hardly like the talk of Rangers and Celtic being 'invited' straight into the Premiership, you've worked your way up and deserve to be where you are on your own merit, that's all that should matter.
I did giggle at the line of how does our passing style compare to yours. I'm not sure an 80 yard hoof can be considered a style. We are fully capable of playing it around nicely and looking good, but we don't. I'd much rather we played the youth and played an entertaining style to be honest, because it can be hardly claimed playing ugly is winning games for us at the moment.
10. What is your prediction for the game?
After everything said above, no doubt this'll be the one game we play well in and win 3-0 so I'll look a complete nugget.
But somehow I doubt it.
My heart says 2-1 to us. My head wouldn't be surprised with a 2-1 to you.
Many thanks to Mike Field for answering our questions.
You can read our views in our interview with Vital Villa here