With the game less than 24 hours away, our friends at 7500 To Holt kindly agreed to answer some pre-game question to see how the Villa fans are feeling.
It is a Pie Eaters first for our Q&A and we hope it will become a regular feature.
Aaron Campaeu steps into the question seat as we fire away. Talking about how was Villa's summer? and was McLeish the right signing?
Where you for or against Alex McLeish becoming your manger?
Once the interest was confirmed and the appointment seemed imminent, I did my best to find reasons to be excited by McLeish's hiring. I found a few that are really quite well-founded, but if I'm being honest I'd say I was never really convinced by any of them. I understand what the club is hoping to get out of McLeish; they want someone that can keep them up and begin to rebuild the club within some very limited means (at least by recent standards at Villa) and there's a very good chance they're going to get that. I don't buy for a second that the club is in any way doomed and I think that within a few years they may very well be back to battling for Europe with McLeish at the helm.
At the same time, I think a lot of other managers who A) play significantly more attractive football (which wouldn't be hard) B) recognize that footballing talent can be found outside of the British Isles and C) would have created far, far less controversy are out there. I wish the club had been more aggressive about finding one.
You were close to signing Roberto Martinez as your manger in the summer, what do you think about him? Would you have accepted him as your manger?
When I heard that Martin O'Neill had resigned, my first choice for manager was Roberto Martinez. When I found out that Gerard Houllier was stepping down due to ill health, my first choice for manager was Roberto Martinez. What he's done at Wigan is just remarkable, and I think that he showed last season in improving the defense that he is a capable enough manager to do what needs to be done in order to survive. I never for a second thought he was a realistic candidate as Randy Lerner has demonstrated a very high level of risk aversion, so when it appeared as though he would be the man the club brought in I was ecstatic. When he turned Aston Villa down I was very disappointed, but it did a great deal to make me respect him more. When I realized Villa were moving from Martinez to McLeish I got very very drunk.
Who has been your best summer signing so far?
In terms of performance, I think it's quite clearly been Shay Given. The importance of goalkeepers is often drastically overstated, but it's very nice to have one of his caliber. In terms of building towards the next competitive Aston Villa squad, I think it's Charles N'Zogbia.
How do you feel about having signed N’Zogbia?
When he was signed, I was thrilled. I actually think N'Zogbia is a better player than Downing; to get him for half of the latter's transfer fee was tremendous. He hasn't made much of an impact so far this season and that's a it worrying, but he also didn't have much of a pre-season and to go from Wigan's style of play to Villa's must require a lot of adjustment. I think he's going to be an excellent signing for us, one that's going to pay off for years.
What do you think about your season so far?
Well, to be completely honest it's been unbelievably boring. Getting bounced from the Carling Cup that early is a big disappointment. But we've yet to lose in the Premier League, so I suppose it's tough to complain too loudly.
Where do you think you will finish at the end of the season?
At the beginning of the season I said somewhere between 8th-12th is likely with a slip a few places lower far more likely than a move any higher. I've not seen anything that would make me think otherwise.
How much will/has it affect you having lost Young and Downing?
With Downing I feel like the loss is minimal because of N'Zogbia being brought into the fold; Villa would be a better team with the both of them of course, but given the tightening of the club's proverbial belt that was never a likely outcome. Young is a bigger loss. From a personality standpoint I've never had much use for Ashley Young but it was easier to ignore when he was a Villa player. Now that he's gone to United - and seemingly found the motivation to push himself to the level most Villa fans thought he could reach - I find that he's incredibly easy to dislike. But there's no denying that he played hard every time out for Villa (even if he did seem a bit disinterested at times) and the explosiveness and quality that he brought has been and will continue to be sorely missed.
What do you think this weekends result will be?
1-1 seems about right. Villa have done well in defense this season and they've been able to do just enough not to lose, but until they show they can actually beat a side better than Blackburn I'm more than a bit skeptical.
Who do you see as Wigan’s danger man?
I have a rather intense and wholly unreasonable dislike for Hugo Rodallega; my hometown club the Seattle Sounders have a Colombian striker named Fredy Montero, who is brilliant and destined for success at a higher level very soon. Unfortunately for Fredy, the coach of the Colombian national team hasn't noticed that MLS has improved dramatically in the past 5 years or so and refuses to call him (or any of his countrymen) up so long as he's playing in the States. So, because Rodallega always reminds me of this I dislike him. As I said, totally irrational and I would add completely unfair. But so it goes. That said, he's a player that I see Villa have a great deal of trouble with; Richard Dunne and James Collins, despite being on the whole good players, are both slow and prone to doing some remarkably stupid things. Rodallega is a player that takes advantage of slow center backs doing dumb things. So that's a concern.
What is your favourite flavour pie?
I will admit that I am very unfamiliar with pie in the sense the English use it; it's just not something that's every really made a jump to American cuisine. Which is really a huge shame, because it does sound like a fantastic meal. That being said, I am very fond of Shepherd's Pie, which isn't really the same thing, I know.
Thanks to Aaron for that insight.