Who are you? We’re Aston Villa (2) – still down on Dowd


Between losing his wallet and agonising over university options, young Josh Henwood* had plenty of reasonable excuses for his late response to our appeal for a Villa fan to preview tomorrow’s game. But he emerged from his papal nom de guerre – he’s PopeJosh at the VillaTalk site – with interesting thoughts on Villa, SAFC, England and, oddly enough, referees …

AND WOULD BELIEVE? yet another Villa fan (this time from within Gary McAllister diving distance of the Stadium of Light) speaks to Salut! tonight …

Salut! Sunderland
Birmingham at home and Villa away in the space of a few days. Is all this rubbing shoulders with the second city good for us

I was going to say before Saturday that it wasn’t what you wanted at all! But after the results I’m scared of the prospect of playing you guys. We can’t seem to get a good win going despite good performances, and you seem to be getting points with (no offence intended) not-so-great performances. By the looks of it, this Midlands weekend might actually benefit you much more than you thought.

The Bluenoses have been quite cocky this season and I suppose they would say they have every right to be so. What do you make of their run and high position, and will their new money give them a chance of edging ahead of Villa in status?

They have been extremely cocky this season, but it also shows how fickle and ignorant they really are! Although they have money, they will not be able to spend much of it. Birmingham City just isn’t a name which good players really would go for. They’ll depend on loan spells again which isn’t good for a team’s stability. Also, I believe that Joe Hart has been probably the most influential figure in the Blues squad and he won’t be their next season (thank you Man City!). Put a fiver on Birmingham to fall to ‘the Second Season Curse’ next season. Nice little earner that you heard from me first!

And Villa. Good in the cups, perhaps less commanding than you’d like in the Premier. How do you see it and are you still 50/50 on Martin O’Neill?

I’ve always been an optimistic Villa fan. I see it as being one of the best and most frustrating seasons I’ve ever seen at VP. We are still more than able to claim that final Champion’s League spot but only thanks to those around us doing as badly as us. We are all inconsistent and that can catch up on everyone next season (although it does make for interesting football!). MON still continues to frustrate me but something must be right with him! 5 points off 4th place with a game in hand as well as Carling Cup Final and FA Cup Semi-Final appearances must mean success. I guess we Villans expect too much!

Were you surprised at how easily you beat us at the Stadium of Light, after being a little lucky in the Carling Cup, and also by our appalling run without a win until we beat Bolton recently?

2-0 v Sunderland: I was very-shocked! You were on a very good run of form at the time and I guess it came down to confidence in the end and Villa had more. Milner’s goal in the second half was sublime and was the ‘sucker-punch’ I think. But saying that, Friedel had to be on top of his game to keep you guys out, as well as the men on the line. Sunderland’s form: Possibly more shocking than Portsmouth going into administration! (until last 2 games)You were talking about Europe one second, and let’s face it – you had a real good shout to be – and then a couple of defeats became a rut for a long time. It happens to a lot of teams; you’ll be much better for it next season.

Hand on heart, where will Villa finish this season and how does that compare with your expectations back in August?

That’s a tough question merely because of who is around us! My heart says 4th but my head says 5th or 6th. Tottenham might fall out of the race for 4th with a month filled with bad fixtures (Sunderland away, Arsenal, Chelsea & Man U in April) and Man City have some tricky away ties as well as Arsenal, Man Utd, Villa and Spurs in the rundown to the end of the season. Villa have by far the easiest fixture list, it’s whether we can capitalise on this.

It’s more than what any Villa fan could’ve truly expected but now we see it as a target that we should at least fight for until May 9!

Who will be the top four in order, and also the bottom three? If Sunderland are in neither (!) list, where do you see us ending up?


Man Utd






Portsmouth (if they exist by then!)

Sunderland to have a last minute epiphany (after losing to Villa but beating Blues) that they can finish in the top ten and win rather a few games to finish around 10th place!

What are your thoughts on the controversies dogging the England camp – Bridge/Terry, Ashley Cole (injury and all those tabloid revelations), Beckham injury – and do you still think we’ll be in the World Cup final? If so, will we also win the trophy?

I’ll do these in segments;

Bridge v Terry: If Wayne Bridge can’t get over it and play on the same team as JT then to be honest he shouldn’t be playing football. He’s just not professional enough to get on with playing the game and should be just forgotten about instead of being paid attention to. He just needs to get laid (If it’s a family page you can delete that last bit)

Ashley Cole: I give up with Ashley Cole! If he thinks that cheating on Cheyrl is a good idea then he just isn’t straight! Period. His injury allows for Warnock or Baines or someone else to get the place from one of the élites who get their place automatically. That can only be good!

Beckham’s injury: It must be World Cup year! Beckham’s crocked again, but this time there’s no hope for once (perhaps a change in fortune for us in Quarter Finals?) The team will miss his presence but I’m glad he’ll be there as a mentor (to give him a title) for the team. He really is country-affiliated rather than club!

Our chances: Last time I wrote on here, I didn’t have a proper chance to check out the World Cup draw. We didn’t half do well didn’t we! We shouldn’t touch Portugal at all this time round either! I think that we will dominate the group stage with maximum points. If we get past the Round of 16 (Runners-up of Group D – Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana) then our target should be at least Semi-Finals (most likely to face Brazil in the Semi but the Netherlands are there too!) If we were to win our semi, then we would be favourites to win the Cup surely!

Who is your favourite non-Villa player in the Premier and who do you, er, like the least?

Favourite: As a goalkeeper myself, I take inspiration from the Premier League and I don’t have to look too far for some great keepers. But the pick of the lot for me is Shay Given. He is consistent and can pull out top draw saves game after game.

Least: Goalkeeper again, Heurelho Gomes. He really is one of the clumsiest excuses of a PL goalkeeper that I’ve ever seen! However, he can have a good game once in a blue moon.

And after – presumably – Phil Dowd, which referees really enrage you? Are there some you respect?

How did I guess that this name would be tossed into the mix? When I first saw that Dowd was the ref for the final, I knew that something would be missed that would be game changing!

I don’t have respect for any of them to be honest. The FA should seriously reform the refereeing ranking system as well as the coaching structure and referee’s conduct as the quality and consistency of referees is appalling for the best league in the world!

Will you get to the match? What will be the score?

I’ll be there thanks to my season card! Another tight game in store I think but 2-1 to the Villa seems like a reasonable score to expect. 2-0 up by 60 minutes; Gabby and James Milner with the goals.

* Josh Henwood – that’s him at the Phil Dowd Carling Cup final – on Josh Henwood: Currently, I’m a college student in Solihull and about to go to university next year, hopefully in Birmingham, on a European Studies and German course.

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