Who are you? We’re Aston Villa

Gordon Nicoll*, (in the white shorts), who runs the Studley and Redditch branch of the Villa fan club, is welcome back to Salut! Sunderland and also to the Stadium of Light. He’ll be at the game on Saturday after stopping off for a drink at Osmotherley where he has vowed not to make the mistake of Monsieur Salut many, many years ago of following that/those drink/s with the Lyke Wake Walk over the moors to Ravenscar …

NB: Click here for a younger Villa view …

Salut! Sunderland: How could you go to St James’ Park and lose 6-0 and how do we avoid it when we go there a week on Sunday?

Can’t see it happening to anyone else this season so you should be fine. Derbies are always tight affairs so always difficult to predict! Just think that 6-0 was a freak result, especially against such a poor side- we should have been one up with the penalty miss, and Ashley Young was running through at 1-0 down and got pulled up for Lord knows what so could have been a different story completely if the footballing Gods had been kinder to us.

Life post-Martin O’Neill. Were you sad to see him go? What do you make of the Houllier appointment and his efforts in the short time since he took over?

Absolutely not. Couldn’t have been happier but for the timing which stank to be honest! As a Manager many of us found him to be stubborn, predictable with no plan B and persisted with playing players out of position because they were his favourites- namely Cuellar at right back which in all fairness….! Fell out with a number of players also and as no players have apparently come to his defence, and apparently sent images of champagne bottles to each other they’re probably glad to see the back of him as well. I think Houllier will be just fine for us and he’s certainly started to get us playing football which under MON was somewhat rare!

Will Villa maintain their pushing-for-top-four momentum, or has the emergence of moneyed City and return of Spurs to the big boys’ stage complicated things?

Unlikely at this moment. All about who Houllier brings in as he hasn’t had a window to work with. Don’t think O’Neill attracted the players we thought he might and I think Houllier’s knowledge of and connections within the European game will see us bring in some quality Foreign signings.

Can Steve Bruce make Sunderland a similar force or would we need someone else to take us to a new level?

I’ve always liked Steve Bruce, or potato head as we affectionately refer to him, despite his brief acquaintance with our old enemy across the City! I’d like to see him do well for you, hope that he can, but perhaps he can only take you so far- maybe a slightly bigger name in the next few years could take you forward? Not that I’m any expert on the subject I hasten to add!

Is there any player in our team you’d take if given the chance?

Several to be honest. I’ve always liked Gordon, Cattermole, Richardson and Bent- ask me to pick just the one and I’d struggle so I’ll just leave you with Richardson if that’s ok and I’ll take the others- ok with you..?

Who are the greatest players you have seen in Villa colours, and who do you wish had never worn them?

Reference the best I’ve seen a few, namely Messrs Andy Gray, Dwight Yorke, Dennis Mortimer, Gordon Cowans, Paul Mcgrath, the list goes on.. There’s also a fairly lengthy list of those I’m not so keen on but in the interests of not embarrassing anyone will leave those thoughts unsaid.

Have you forgotten the World Cup already or are you eagerly looking forward to the next one?

Forgotten it and not that enthusiastic about the next one to be fair. I’m very much the Club before Country type although like everyone else likes the camaraderie that nights in the pub bring surrounding England games etc. Didn’t think we’d go very far anyway so not overly surprised at the outcome.

Is it time to abandon high-minded principles and accept cheating of all kinds – diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents booked or sent off and ritualistic obstruction at corners – as part of the game. If not, how do we stamp it ut?

Difficult to know how to stamp it out- largely the responsibility of managers and players to be truthful. It’s in their hands so if they can’t play fair, retrospective punishments with the use of technology where lengthy bans are introduced could be the only way to deal with it.

And what about Danny Murphy’s comments on players and managers to be blamed for “mixing it”?

Never been any different has it? I think defenders always liked to let the attackers know they were about and I can’t honestly believe there are many that go out to end a career! Nothing wrong with strong, full-bloodied challenges that leave the wingers looking over their shoulder!

Name this season’s top four in order, and who is going down? If either Villa or Sunderland do not appear in either group (!), where will our clubs end up?

Top: Chelsea/Man City/Man Utd/Arsenal
Bottom: B-lose/Newcastle/Wigan
Sound ok with you guys..? Then it’s sixth for us and tenth for you I’m afraid. Not bad all round though!

Will you be at our game? What will be the score?

Yeah I’m making the long trek up from 17 miles south of Birmingham with 14 other lads on a small coach. Like to see an entertaining game and with a few goals and an honourable 2-2 draw to show at the end of it. Would of course take a late 3rd for us just to uplift our spirits for the long trip home!

* Gordon Nicoll on Gordon Nicoll:
I run the Studley & Redditch Lions and work as a branch manager within the recruitment sector. Now Technical Services Manager with a bigger team, more branches to support and the associated headaches that go with it I’m afraid! I’ve followed Villa for 40 years and have seen us win a succession of League Cups, the old first division and the ultimate in the European Cup. All the best to you for the rest of the season.

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