The View From Villa Park.
Ahead of Watford's Premier League match against Aston Villa this weekend, I caught up with Villa fan Rory Skehan, who is also a writer for the blog, 7500toholte.com.
We spoke about what's gone wrong for Villa this season, the managerial change up at Villa Park and whether he believes both Watford and the Midland's side can stay up this season.
What's gone wrong for Villa so far this season? Did your fans expect the club to be in a relegation
We expected to be in the 13-16 range, staying just ahead of another relegation battle. Nobody predicted it would have been this bad. What's gone wrong? Basically everything. Our owner wants to sell, but nobody wants to buy us. Tim Sherwood hadn't a clue, the players aren't performing, a bit of bad luck, some injuries, zero confidence; I could go on, but I won't, mainly because it's just too depressing to write about.
Do you think Villa have enough to remain in the Premier League?
Do we have enough talent? Yes. But with 5 points from 13 games? It'll be one of the greatest comebacks ever if we do. The only saving grace we have right now is that other teams above us haven't widened the gap yet (of course while I'm writing this Sunderland have just beaten Palace) - Despite everything that's happened this season, we're just 5 points from safety, when it could be so much more. So yes, it's possible we could stay up, but it's really not looking good.
Did you think Tim Sherwood deserved to get the sack, or do you feel he should have got more time?
Sherwood really needs to manage a lower league side to learn the ins and outs of managing a football club. He just doesn't have the experience. He cost us points this season with just awful substitutions and terrible game management. While some may say he needed more time, there was no sign of things turning around on the pitch, while the hole we were digging just got deeper and deeper. We waited around last year for Lambert to be sacked, and nearly left it too late. A change needed to be made, no doubt about it.
Do you think Remi Garde is the right man to keep you up? What are your initial thoughts of the Frenchman so far?
I like Garde, and I believe a lot of Villa fans do as well. He's got proven European experience, and is a calming influence on the touchline, unlike Sherwood and his antics. If by some miracle he keeps us up, then we'll be looking at a bright future with him at the helm - he's a manager you can build a club around. The problem is that the damage already done might be too much to overcome. He's got a large task on his hands, no doubt, but I feel much better about our slim chance to stay alive then I did with his predecessor.
A lot has been made about Jack Grealish since he burst on to the scene last season. What are his main qualities?
He's extremely talented with the ball at his feet and has excellent balance. He draws a ton of fouls, as defenders basically have to just take him down to avoid being beaten. He also has great vision and picks some passes not a lot of others would see. Now, that's Grealish at his best, when the match is free-flowing and open, and Villa are on the front foot...which hasn't happened very often this year. It's hard to be a creative, attacking force when your club is constantly defending. In this Villa side, he needs to track back, something he, one, isn't great at, and two, doesn't like to do very much. He's still only 20 years old though, and given some time to grow, he'll develop into a fantastic player.
Thoughts on Watford? Do you feel the Hornets have enough to remain in the Premier League?
Before the season started, I thought they'd be heading straight back down again. But Villa weren't the only team I misjudged. I've been impressed by Watford so far. I'm not sure they'll finish as high as they are now, but I think they'll be able stay up in the end - they've proven that they can compete with the best in the Premier League.
One Watford player you'd like to see in Claret and Blue?
It's hard to choose just one, because Villa need all the help they can get, but I'd go with Odion Ighalo. He's an exciting talent, and Villa desperately need to start putting the ball in the back of the net, something he's excelled at this season.
This is a huge match for Villa. I mean, let's face it, every match left on the fixture list is crucial for us. Hopefully, we show a bit of pride after being embarrassed by Everton, and pick up at least a point. But I doubt it. I'll say Watford win, 2-1.
Thanks to Rory for taking the time out to have a chat and good luck to Aston Villa after this weekend's game!