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blandy

Season ahead 2011/12

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Talk of which reminds me - can we put together a little predictions, hopes, fears and wants thing for the new season for the front page with contributions from as many in here as possible?

I'm thinking a prediction of our final place, something you want and something you expect?

Blandy’s wildly inaccurate thoughts on the coming season

My predictions for the season, after having a think about the squad, the manager, coaching, board and what’s for tea are as follows

Premier League. It’s hard to see Villa living up to the level of expectation us supporters have for our club, here.

I guess we feel somehow that Villa ought to be in and around the top 6, as a sort of natural status. This may or may not be the way fans of other clubs look at us, but hey, the Villa is ours, and it’s our right to feel the club ought really to be amongst the better sides in the nation. I don’t think many if any of our fans feel we have a “right” to any kind of trophy winning status, but we have a right to think that the clubs size, fanbase and history means we should at least be competing fairly regularly for what might be deemed success, even in this money distorted age.

So where do I thin we’ll finish - somewhere between about 17th and 11th - halve the difference and call it 14th. It’s unlikely to be a smooth ride, we seem to be relying to a degree on the youngsters and when you do that you get some fairly steep ups and downs as they start brightly, adjust, tire, rest and come back again. A number of the more senior players have a great deal to prove, too, either after bad behaviour, bad attitude, poor form or all of the above, last season. If ‘Eck can get them concentrated on paying back some of those dues on the pitch we should be alright, but more repeats of the spats, sulks and cock ups of last season could see us really biting our nails again. Injuries too, with a small squad are a worry.

Cups. It’s our year for the FA Cup isn’t it? or maybe the league Cup? that favourite competition of Villans. Well, no, probably not, but if ‘Eck can do it with small heath, then he can do it with Villa and a favourable draw. Taking the FA Cup lightly (giving up) was one of Ged’s many gaffes. I don’t think we’ll see that happen again. So fingers crossed, lucky socks at the ready, the ghost of Bert Millipede’s cold ball notwithstanding, a quarter final at least, in one of the cups.

The Players One of the reasons to watch the Villa, for me, has been to see players progress. We all have our favourites and often for me they’ve been the ones who’ve come through the academy system. I think pretty much all of the current crop have impressed me at times and if 2 or 3 of them can improve a notch or two further then that’ll do me. The vision of Bannan, the tenacity of Herd, the all round impressiveness of Clark and the directness and crossing of Albrighton are the things that I look to see brighten my days watching the team. I’ll settle for the senior players playing and behaving like good professionals, and setting the right example. Oh and I like it when DB and Gabby score goals. It makes me happy. As does watching outstanding goalkeeping. Shay, welcome to VP.

what do I want? I want pride, I want the team to play with pride, I want my fellow fans to support with pride. Talking of fans, I want us to be treated with respect and for us to give it back - Stewards, Police, Players, Managers, Clubs with their pricing (forlorn hope that one), TV, competition authorities - value us please, and not as consumer units, or a nuisance, but as customers and citizens.

What do I expect to happen The unexpected, as always. I expect at times the game will make cynics smile, make thousands happy, angry, sad, frustrated, bitter, joyous and resigned, sometimes almost all at once. I expect lower crowds at most grounds and I hope for a bit of re-alignment between the fantasy world in which football operates and the real world we live in. I also hope to share many beers with many friends and fellow fans, and maybe the trains will run on time.

Next please...

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Swedish ramblings

Premier League: It’s all gone upside down sideways hasn’t it? The Sky 4 has been broken up and a probable new era of even more difficult glass ceilings has been presented. We will of course not be part of that pack, neither will we be the best of the rest. I think this year will be a fight with the also-rans. 10th place should be what this squad can achieve if we can keep off any alarming injury crisis and a certain Bent can keep up the scoring. Veterans need to step up and youngsters need to make a push upwards.

Cups: Really a lottery. You can never predict cups, case in point last year when something unthinkable happened. *shrudder* I guess the league-cup is something a bit easier to shoot for. And I’ll happily take some vacation time to book that wembley trip across the sea.

The Players: Yes please, give me something to cheer about. Some surging runs from Zog, sublime passes from Bannan and Makoun. Simple tap-ins from Bent and a good portion of “kicking opponents in the air” by Dunne and Collins. But the player I want to see take that major step is Clark. Massive potential in the kid and it’s time to shine.

what do I want? Win lose or draw, I want Villa Park rocking. Sod Scudamore and his pathetic “Match day experience” from the sofa. The experience is all about getting elbowed, hugged, swung around and all out euphoric when the Villa do what I expect them to do, score in a homegame!

What do I expect to happen: A bit of a recession, lower crowds and lots of whining. It’s in the nature of a football fan sadly.

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Premier League: Talk from Eck of a three tier PL is pretty much spot on. We are I firmly believe part of the second tier, the tier that may struggle occasionally, but is to be found 6th - 12th. Outside of the media favourites and mega rich there has been a lot of book balancing over the last two years that only serves to help those already in the CL 'race' stay ahead of the pack. When success is not winning things but actually qualifying for the CL then there is somethingt fundamentally wrong with game...... MONEY.

Cups: Our only chance of proper success is to go all out for one of these. Personally I'd prefer winning one of these than merely getting into the CL. AND I think we will, not sure which but I really do have a good feeling about them.

Players: We certainly look thin in numbers but I feel the only player we'll really miss is Ashley Young. Zog is better than Downing; Makoun better than NRC; Bent better than Carew from where we were at this point last season. We missed Milner and I hope Delph can step up. I keep seeing that we need more strength/tenacity/ an enforcer but I'm sorry where are these players in the sides who regularly finish above us. I would look at another winger and a CB (Dann) but can also see why in such cost conscious times we haven't moved....yet.

We have some very good young players and a couple even better to come (Gardner & SH). Without the injuries from last year we will be fine and will hopefully surprise plenty, unfortunately too many of those are our own fans.

What do I want: a lottery win so I can get to as many games as I would like, failing that I want 100% commitment both on and off the pitch. A player does not deliberately misplace a pass or miss a shot, yet the modern way is to berate our heroes when they do. I want Villa fans united in their support of the club. I want us to win every game guru know that is impossibleso I want to hope we are all doing our best to achieve that.

What do I expect: some wins, some draws and some losses. Win meaning we are suddenly going to win the league, losses meaning we are relegation certainties like so many said as late as April this year and were utterly wrong. A league finish in that 2nd tier and i'll plump for 8th a cup

win and a quarter final in the other.

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Premier League: There are in theory four clubs whose financial muscle will always blow us out of the water, and another two who all things considered should finish above us. I think we're competing with Everton and Sunderland for 7th-9th.

Cups: McLeish has a good Cup record I think, at least Quarters in both

Players: We seem thin on the ground, but then we do have this whole raft of players who cost us a fortune in wages and transfer fees who so far have done nothing of note to date to justify that level of expenditure. Ireland, Beye, Heskey, Cuellar, Delph - if these players can play more to their alleged ability and stop taking the club for a free ride then maybe we arent as badly off as we might think. Yes, that was a straw I was clutching at. Clark, Bannan and Albrighton are also now all in their make or break seasons, so there's another straw.

What do I want: For us to continue playing 'properly', but adding some backbone and spirit, some mental toughness, some togetherness.

What do I expect: I expect to be underwhelmed, and largely disinterested. The Premier League is broken, and every passing week it loses its appeal.

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League:

Expanding on the leagues within a league theme - I think the premiership has fragmented a bit further

Last two seasons:

pointstable.th.pngFour leagues - teams challenging for the title, for chumps league, midtable stragglers and the haunted - with little movement between those groups.

This year I see those groups splitting like this (with the teams sorted alphabetically within each group):

201112.png

So Villa, anywhere between 7th and 14th.

I'm not too worried about the defence in itself, but with a lack of cutting edge, the team will be under pressure for long periods and confidence will take a hit along the way.

Cups:

We won't get very far at all without some luck and victories on penalties.

Players:

Eck will get more out of the players than the previous incumbent but without a couple of the youngsters making the breakthrough we will be rather threadbare in the final third.

What do I want:

The kids to fill the holes, becuase it doesn't look like money is going to

What do I expect:

A lot of draws, some poor runs that will see us staring at the trap door, but enough gumph from the senior players to steady the ship and take us to mid table.

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