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Premiership Survival Feature: Wolves & Villa.

Premiership Survival Feature: Wolves & Villa.

In what has proven the most unpredictable season in Premiership history, ten or more teams stumbled into the New Year with relegation a grave concern.

We find ourselves right in the thick of it and when the chips are down it's easy to think we are the only one's suffering.

Vital Editors at our rival clubs have responded to our interview requests and it seems that some are suffering a lot worse than us. The interviews will be published one by one.

In the battle for survival, better the devil you know. I thank all the editors who responded.

First up, Aston Villa.

What were you expectations at the start of the season?

Well, expectations sort of got confused when Martin O`Neill left five days before the start of the season but with the team still in place and our most qualified ever manager coming in, I couldn`t see why we wouldn`t still be fighting for the top six (been 6, 6, 6 the last three seasons) and for a good cup run. We blew the Carling Cup against our local rivals, so that hurt.

Villa have just slipped into the bottom three, what is going wrong?

Lack of professional pride from the players. There are all sorts of rumours of dressing room splits (there were when MON was here as well, it was quoted in one paper report just as he left that he said to the players in training the one day that they looked like they hated him) but no matter how much they hide behind this manager or that manager, some have been nothing short of an embarrassment this season and yes, I do know how harsh that sounds. These are highly paid players, many of them internationals and yet at times they haven`t looked like a team at all and more worryingly, they haven`t looked interested.

I don`t think some of the talk through the press by Houllier has helped but surely these highly paid players are capable of standing up and being counted during games? Man City away was a major worry as we were (as Lawro said) an embarrassment. HOWEVER we did show heart and fight v Chelsea last weekend so maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

That level of support is the manager receiving from the fans?

Well, in fairness no one did cartwheels when he was appointed, so with such an awful season thus far (and the Liverpool incident where he touched the 'This is Anfield` badge, waved to the Liverpool not Villa fans + came out with the awful quote... which he has apologized about and said it was meant in jest... that he didn`t mind losing 3-0 to them as he likes them) he`s hardly had the full force of the claret and blue army behind him. MON was a tough act to follow as well because when he came it was like the arrival of the messiah, I`ve never seen the fans so united on an appointment.

We just needs results, if he doesn`t get them then I guess he won`t get much backing. There are many saying now he is the manager he must be given time but patience does look short.

How many more games should he be given?

No idea, after the Man City away game I did start to think he would need to go and fairly quickly, however we fought back v Chelsea and I don`t think our board/owner are going to do a knee jerk reaction. I feared a tonking v Chelsea, getting a draw buys him a bit of time but not sure how much as we now have Sunderland at home and then Sheffield United in the FA Cup. Then a big game away to Blues, he really won`t want to be losing that one after they beat us in the Carling Cup!

What players would you like to see brought/sold in January?

We have a few players like Nigel Hokey-Cokey and John Carew out of contract at the end of the season, so I would think they will run down their deals and leave on frees. I`d let Carew go now to be fair. He should be our Drogba but he`s 'gone` already in my honest opinion.

We need a play maker (who doesn`t) and a striker (who doesn`t!) but don`t look to me for names, not my job! I wouldn`t be surprised to see us grab a loan or two and then have the major action in the summer. If we need a short term fix, I`d grab Michael Owen on loan,, if fit he will score and if not fit, he can be sent back! We have also been linked to Adebayor on loan, I`m sure he`d find the goal as well.

Many thanks to Jonathan for his detailed response as to the goings on at Villa Park.

One question I forgot to ask him was where Villa will finish- I am sure he will answer this in reply to the article.

Do we think we will finish above Villa? If so where will we both be finishing?

Will two (or more) Midlands team disastrously face relegation? Are we all staying up?

I'll start the ball rolling. This may sound like a classic blunder but I think Villa have got too much to go down. Their form is awful, the manager appears to have lost the fans, and possibly the dressing room, and if he doesn't shape up soon I expect they will ship him out. I think it's going to be close but I think they will just about stay up. I'll say 16th, and 15th for Wolves.

Plenty to ponder, so get those fingers tapping and share your thoughts.

New York City Wolf

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:New York City Wolf
Date:Friday January 7 2011
Time: 4:37PM


You are fully justified to feel annoyed. One puts a lot of work into preparing and writing up articles and people should reply. This is what readers to a forum like this are supposed to do. That's why I try to make a contribution to each thread. My reaction to your article was extemely positive. It's a great idea and, if subsequent ones maintain the same standard, they will be eagerly awaited. Of course, a lot depends upon the ability of the interviewee to articulate his answers in a meaningful way. The AV guy provided fascinating insights into the problems facing the team and management at the moment. Some of them have relevance for us. I also think that AV are too good to go down in spite of the points you (and the AV spokesperson) make. This is what worries me. While some of the rabbits, we thought we would be battling against, are hopping up the table, we find ourselves rubbing shoulders with 'superior' teams like AV and Fulham ... and even Everton and Liverpool. We cannot rely upon them to stay down among the dead men. Personally, I would like Houllier to stay at AV if that meant that the turmoil at AV would continue. Of course, it's not only the manager's fault for, as the AV man states, professional footballers should always play with pride and passion regardless. Nonetheless, losing the dressing room is an issue and a new man might turn it round and get the players feeling more positive again. As our match against Chelsea showed, attitude and confidence are important attributes to take into a game. At Wolves MM does seem to have the support of the players, and they do seem to want to work hard for him and the club. This makes it all the more disappointing when they play so abysmally against teams we should stuff. As I have indicated in more than one report, there is a surprising air of complacency among the players and management. Defeats are dismissed with the observation that we made chances and played well. Lessons are always going to be learnt from them but never are because the same mistakes are repeated. A dose of reality is needed and I have detected a sign of that in MM's recent statements. Let's hope the lads remember that the only way to survive is to gain points not by playing prettily and losing. We need to string a run of good results together rather than persevere with the present situation, in which we lurch wildly from one extreme to the other. If ever we needed to maintain our concentration and play as if our lives depended, it is now. We can do it: against Liverpool and Chelsea we fought ferociously, constantly harrying the player with the ball and contesting every play. We still find it difficult to score goals but if we stifle the opposition, goals will come. Let's practise our new resolve against Doncaster in a couple of hours time. It's the ideal test case because we are expected to win but might relax (as we did against Wigan and WHU). Go for it, lads!
08/01/2011 12:51:00
Yes a very good idea to get the 'other' clubs insight into how their respective seasons are going.Funny he should mention Nigel'Hokey Cokey' I thought apart from Sidwell he would be one that we may persue.The coming weeks will tell,the longer it goes without any signings the more desperate things will get regarding signings,I trust however that things are now going on in the background and hopefully soon, some good news will be forthcoming.UTW.
Crete Wolf
09/01/2011 07:58:00
Yes, that's the way the Ms work. Secrecy overcomes the problem of alerting other clubs, as with the example of Fulham and Sidwell, but it prevents us debating the merits of the potential signing. We have had some clunkers foisted on us.
09/01/2011 10:17:00
Thanks for the support Banksy- my grumblings were half tongue in cheek but this ongoing feature has taken a lot of work to put together and I hope it gains some momentum- the main point was the lift our own anxieties but hopefully realizing from others responses that we are not the only ones in despair and that, as the great insight from Jonathan at Villa proved, there are worse situations elsewhere. For a club that finished 6th three seasons in a row imagine how they are feeling- I refuse to accept our position as 'decent' no matter how you want to dress it up- we the injuries were piling up and Mick admirably refused to use them as an excuse, I brought light to the situation (sparked in the most I will admit by Steve Bruce and his seventeen times broken nose whining about being without two players when we were missing probably 7 starters.) Anyway, thanks for the support, and your detailed response in return, which I extend to our mate Crete. I love writing for the site- I love the Wolves, I love writing, and living in New York you can only imagine the limitations placed on my opportunities to enjoy informed, rational discussions about football alone, not to mention our club. Thankfully, my wife has embraced not only the game, but has become a fully fledged Wolves fan- last night in fact she was in a bar showing the NY Jets game yelling "this isn't football, this is _______ (choice words employed) and you may sense my pride in her. It was equal perhaps to being in a bar for the England/America game, as one of 99 Yanks stood next to me, the only English man in the bar, with St. George stickers stuck to her face. They other 98 actually started jumping and 'whooping' when we got a booking and I scratched my barnacle in a state of perplexed confusion suddenly beginning to wonder if was a/ 'really' watching a football game, b/ in a country which has a 'major' league (their words not mine) c/ if I was on planet earth. SO, the point being, this site is very important to me hence the grumble. So, the feature moves on, I will be posting the second installment tonight. As for points raised above, as a pattern does actually begin to unfold, we are due to lose the next one- eff Doncaster, I'm not bothered about that game- I would have confidently backed us to beat Liverpool but now Kenny is in things are different as you mentioned with regards Villa, new manager etc. Kenny is one of my favourite all time strikers, and I have a soft spot for Liverpool having growing up watching their glory years, but I wish they would have held onto the Roy until after we had chance to beat them again- they are still a mess and he is not a miracle worker but I have reigned in my confident approach to that game- we need a win though cos after that I don't fancy us against Arsenal or United and we also have Bolton away. Crete, same thoughts here of Hokey Cokey, I thought he was a player we were interested in and I would like to see us sign him. As for Sidwell, I told my Dad I was disappointed- he said "if he can't get in the Villa team do we want him?"- I pointed out that if he was in the Villa team maybe they wouldn't quiet be in the mess they are now? Transmission ends. Series Two to work on, so keep em peeled. Cheers again lads.
New York City Wolf
09/01/2011 19:03:00
NYCW: I sympathise with you. At least, I can travel to Molineux fairly easily, whereas it's a little more problematical for you. Your passion for the club makes MM's criticism of numpties not merely ridiculous but insulting. I too felt annoyed when I heard Bruce bleat on about injuries. Would that we had so few players out. With George banned from the MC game, we are really in trouble. I am sure that Dalgleish will improve Liverpool's performance if only because the team respect him. But why didn't Hodgson gain that respect: after all he was manager of the year and his performance at Fulham was amazing. At least, we will not have to play against Gerrard. Unlike George he deserved to go off. Now, did Tevez get red carded today?
09/01/2011 23:23:00
Indeed old boy, I get over when I can and when I am there, I am there, as in the game, otherwise I rely on the sites. Marcus was speaking correctly before the World Cup, that his friends and family in America saw more games here than his friends in England- a lot of Wolves games are on the big channels otherwise I hit the streams. I'd love Mick to see this site and I'm this close to sending the club an email to let him know about it- what the effers went wrong for Roy I have no idea but they just didn't take to him from day one did they? Players or fans which seems fairly bizarre. I must admit I beamed a great smile today when I saw Kenny back on the touchline and his interview on BBC Sport after the game is hilarious. When we were playing Liverpool last season and were holding them nil nil til Ward was sent off? Gerrard put two, two footed tackles in within the space of about three seconds and there wasn't a whistle to be heard from nether. Anyone who's hairline almost touches their eyebrows has something wrong with them, in his case, he became a thug. A talented thug, but a thug none the less. No doubt he will be stroking his confused brow/hair from the stands at Molineux which is better than him popping one in from 30 yards. There's hope. We can beat them but you are right, with the same application we should brush the crap away- I really do think we will look back in May and wonder what all the worry was about.
New York City Wolf
10/01/2011 02:09:00
have linked in our forum, once all answered NYC Wolf give me a nudge and we can front page all the links on all the featured sites. Well, I can anyway, I'm so very powerful!
The Fear
10/01/2011 08:52:00
Only just saw the article and a very good one also. I worry for wolves i really do (also villa), Just due to the fact that you have 5 more very tough games coming up, although you did beat chelsea it would be hard to take them all on. After those games have ended you could be again rock bottom and fight it very difficult to get out. I feel villa should be okay because to win a relegation fight you need to beat the teams around you and we still have a top 7 squad and 'should' beat most teams in the league and i think we will start winning so it's too far to say we are going down yet but good luck to wolves.
10/01/2011 13:42:00
Cheers The Fear! Will send a nod when they have all come back and appreciate your efforts. We are all in this so why shouldn't everyone share the pain :) I will warn, that although Jonathan provided us with a great insight and a very detailed response, some have come back a bit shorter and reserved than others. Ken from Vital Newcastle gave us a very good interview Wigan will be published next then one/two a night up until the weekend. P.AvFc appreciate you responding and the best wishes, I really do want three Midland clubs in the Premiership next season. Yes I said three. That includes the obvious, yourselves and shock horror the Albion. They've won more than a raffle like some I could mention and I like my clubs with history and tradition, fill in the rest yourselves, you get the point (ie, how I spare the odd moment day dreaming of 4th division football for Middlesbrough- yes I remember the 4th division, fondly actually as a young whipper snapper) Back to the point, you raise one well, yes we beat Chelsea, but metaphorically speaking if you have just knocked out Mike Tyson does that mean you can go on to beat Holyfield, Sugar Ray, again, you get the point- I'm on a roll, even bringing boxing into the equation, no we can't. The season has been a roller coaster for almost all involved and this will run until the end of the season. I'm too ill to look it up tonight but I think we have developed a pattern now which is close to win one lose one, which if it continued would be more than enough to keep us up. Last week, with 18 games to go, losing 9 winning 9 would have us finishing on 45 points. Did I, do I predict 9 wins for Wolves? I don't. We do have a horrible run, and our season will be decided beyond the next 5 games P.Avfc, as in our results against those around us, which includes another duel with yourselves. We can enjoy those memorable evenings but they will mean nothing if we are relegated, actually, not nothing, but a disaster considering the money we have spent on signings and improved contracts. As I said in the article I don't think Villa will go down, but I think it will be a scrap to the finish and for your sake, looking in from the outside, I hope you have another manager next year. I must admit I was surprised over the summer that fans of other teams seemed more concerned about big Mart leaving than Villa fans were- what were the feelings then? and now? I think we are going to be okay but as always, only time will tell. Good luck Villa. I will say that my friends Dad took us to a Villa - Everton game when I was a nipper and I made my Mom sew my Wolves badge onto my coat. Whilst I remember one fan, a 'grown up' giving me *****e for it, I better remember one Tony Daley scoring with a flying scissor kick in what I believe was a 2-0 win. Whatever year that was, I went back to watch my beloved Wolves the following weekend dreaming of that kind of crowd, watching the best players in (England then), the world now, and here we are- it's a struggle and I've developed a few more Andy Gray hairs but it's worth it. Lifelong Wolves & England fan? I have, will and shall always be able to quote my favourite- It's been emotional. Good luck and thanks for replying.
New York City Wolf
11/01/2011 04:24:00
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