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Set the alarm it's nearly here


LancsVillan
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yes the 2008/09 season is only a matter of hours away so I thought I'd ask the mods and news team to put forward a view on what will happen.

This is part one as we all get a little wordy given the chance.

Lancsvillan

My idea so I got to go first

This season I see as being one of two divisions, those that can compete and those that cannot, therefore I fully expect us to be in a similar position to last season, fighting for the UEFA slot. I'll be honest and think that last season came as a surpirse to me and quite possibly MO'N too. I think having gained 6th the expectation levels have risen too quickly as can be seen by the transfer and speculation threads on this site.

We've certainly strengthened in defence, indeed it can said that we've got a completely new defence should anything happen to my Captain elect - Martin Laursen.

Midfield is an area that I feel needs a little more craft and guile. Ash provides plenty but I think we'll see him come under greater pressure form opposing sides this season.

Up front I see us as needing a poacher, a natural goal scorer (someone like JPA when we signed him and not the one we turned him into), since selling Luke I believe there has been a need for a further striker. Much as I like ot think of 'The Fonz' being that player, let's not put too much pressure on him too early. It is not hard to remember others who came into the squad with similar expectations only to see them languishing in the lower leagues throughout their career, Walker, Stefan Moore and Byfield to name but three.

So overall I think we'ree stronger but so are our main competition for 5th - Evernot and Spuds. Then we look above that and I'm sorry I just cannot see us getting there quite this season, without one of those imploding and like every other Villa fan I pray for the RedScouse to do that I cannot see it.

Predictions:

Premier League: 6th

Cup: 6th Round

Lge Cup: WINNERS

UEFA: Group Stages

over to villafan306

I'm very optimistic about this season. Maybe it's the thought of European football, maybe it's the 3 signings in one week or maybe it's just dillusion. Whichever it is I think we have had a fantastic summer and if we can keep hold of Gareth Barry, we will be going into the season with a very strong team.

In goal we have one of the Premiership's best goalkeepers in Friedel with one of the brightest young prospects around to back him up in Guzan.

Defence is looking a lot more healthy following the arrivals of Shorey, Young and Cuellar. I'd like to see another player brought in to cover right back but I think Young will turn out to be a fantastic purchase. I wish Bouma a speedy recovery but think Shorey may just be an improvement and as far as Cuellar goes, well he is twice the player that Knight is...or so I'm told!

Midfield may well be our downfall this season. While Barry (if he stays), Reo-Coker and Sidwell will give us healthy choices for the central role, we do lack quality wingers. Young of course not included there, but Maloney and Routledge have yet to prove themselves on the wing so we do need a signing there...unless of course we go with the 3 central midfielders and Young doing whatever he likes. Even then though, I can't see Ash playing 50 games this season so we need another creative player in there.

Up front I'd like to see us get a natural goalscorer in. While Carew/Harewood/Gabby can all chip in, I don't see them as 20 goal per season strikers.

I think the extra games that the UEFA cup will (hopefully) provide could see us bleed a few youngsters into the side. Osbourne faces a make or break season and Delfounso might well get his first taste of first team action.

As far as the league goes I agree with Lancs - we out did ourselves last year and getting the same position again will be good enough for me. Everton have stood still, Blackburn are imploding, Pompey have lost their engine and while Spurs have brought in quality they did the same thing last season and it got them no-where. As far as breaking into the top 4 goes I think we have a chance but only if one of the Sky 4 has a terrible start or gets rid of their manager halfway through the season (here's looking at you Liverplop). If that happens then it will be our chance to capitalise and we will have to take it.

Predictions:

Premier League: 5th

FA Cup: Quarter Finals

League Cup: Winners

UEFA Cup: Quarter Finals

then comes the VTer who could give Stuart Hall a run for his money, yes it's squire blandy

At the start of last season, having come off the back of a clear improvement on the season before, and with some strengthening done to the midfield, I predicted 7th - a jump of 4 places. In the end we beat that by a place.

This season, we've lost Mellberg, and Freddy Bouma is sadly crocked for the foreseeable future, but again we've strengthened.

Whether we've done so quite enough to make a big leap forwards is open to question, but I do think in most areas we will be stronger. Certainly at the back, despite the loss of Olly. Friedel and the 2 full-backs who've come in make us stronger, and Cuellar if he's half as good as the Rangers fans say will be a big bonus.

Obviously, there's been , as yet, no addition to the right side of midfield, and Nathan Delfouenso has come into the squad for Luke Moore up front.

Where i have my doubts still is in midfield.

If Gareth Barry stays and plays as well as he did last year, and we get in say James Milner, or a similar player to fill in the gap on the right hand side, then I can see the gulf to the top 4 narrowing right down from the huge 16 point distance at the end of last season.

I have some doubts over how well Steve Sidwell will fit in to the system. Each of the midfielders - Gareth Barry, NRC, Sidwell Stan Petrov and Craig Gardener have good qualities, but for me only GB consistently delivers. NRC's use of the ball often undoes the good work done in winning of it, Stan has with a couple of exceptions never dominated games as he did in Scotland, Sidwell I'm just not sure about, and Craig Gardner is a player I like, but is still learning the game.

We do have a stronger squad and it may get stronger still, but then we'll probably have to play more games , too. It's a bit of a balancing act.

I think 5th is a realistic possibility, and there's a lesser possibility of 4th even - if Liverpool (I hope) start to crumble under the mess that is their ownership and the Karma that must affect Benitez, (if there's any justice). Arsenal too, despite superb football may not get so many points next season. Spurs will do much better than last year.

If we could break into that top 4, that would be an outstanding effort.

Perhaps more enjoyable would be some tangible reward - a cup, particularly the FA Cup. It's too long since we had those days out at Wembley.

Pin me down , and I'll go for 5th place and 65 points - Not as an expectation, or demand, but as a combination of hope and the continued re-birth of our Splendid Club.

As for the Cups and Europe, that's just luck of the draw. I'm not tempting fate.

so the first three are all optimistic on the league position, come back soon and see if there is a dissenting view

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So overall I think we'ree stronger but so are our main competition for 5th - Evernot and Spuds

Am I missing something? I thought Everton had sold a bunch of players and signed no-one, how can they be stronger?

Top post though guys.

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So overall I think we'ree stronger but so are our main competition for 5th - Evernot and Spuds

Am I missing something? I thought Everton had sold a bunch of players and signed no-one, how can they be stronger?

Top post though guys.

They've secured Pienaar, in the same way we got Curtis and getting rid of that fool Johnson strengthens them ;-)

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Great post lads, but unfortunately, i think we are deluding ourselves a little.

Even though MON has strengthened our defence with, lets say, a mature goalkeeper and no better than average players, we could have signed Young for 2.5 million last year and Shorey had a nightmare debut in Iceland and a central defender from Rangers, who's name sounds like he's been signed from The Adams Family, we are still without the creativity in midfield and a 20 goals a season striker that would repeat our 6th place finish of last season.

Black Cat's, manager, Roy Keane, signed Malbrangue from Spurs while the tabloids were linking the player with us. Malbrangue would have given our team the creativity we needed in midfield to unlock top six Premiership defences and certainly knows how to use the ball better than Reo-Coker, who gives the ball away far more than any other premiership footballer i have ever seen. To buy Malbranque for 4 millon, would have been money well spent.

Why MON didn't also buy Defoe and Crouch, is quite beyond me.

Defoe was the goal poacher we needed and again, all of the national tabloids had linked the player to us. Nine Defoe goals in twelve games for Portsmouth anyone.

Crouch would have been excellent competition for Carew, as Carew will not play a full season, due to his injury record and Crouch already has a goal ratio of 1 in every two games he plays in.

If Villa had been starting the season with Crouch and Defoe as our two main strikers, being served by the flair of Malbranque and Agbonlahor and Ashley Young on the flanks, i would certainly agree with the idea of a possible top six finish again, but if you look at the signings the teams around us have made, i.e, Spurs and Portsmouth, then i think it's going to be a struggle to repeat last season's finish.

However, if Gareth Barry does leave Villa for Liverpool and i sincerely hope he doesn't, then why not spend his transfer money towards buying Arshavin before Spurs do, James Milner, Koumas and Santa Cruz?

At least we would have the creativity and goals that would, trouble any team in the Premiership and push us towards a top six finish again. Furthermore, maybe, just maybe, we might even beat Manchester United, at least, in a cup game.

Ciaran Doherty

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