An actress’s life can bring varied demands. After being made up to look a lot older for the part of Father Ted’s housekeeper Mrs Doyle, Pauline McLynn* was required to appear nude as Libby in Shameless. But never mind that: she’s here because she is a keen Aston Villa fan. As a lass back in Ireland, she’d flirted with Liverpool and Steve Heighway before being converted by Paul McGrath. Salut! Sunderland gallantly chose a discreet image …
Salut! Sunderland: Things may change before we meet next week you but it has been looking a little ominous at Villa Park with some pundits even mentioning the dreaded R word. Surely not relegation, even after the 4-0 drubbing at Man City.
The only R that I agree with is Resurrection, and I think the game against Chelsea proved we can still take a game to the opposition. Villa are notorious for going downhill a bit at this time of year but I feel we on the rise again now so look out Sunderland.
What did you make of Martin O’Neill’s departure and the appointment of Gerard Houllier???
I was gutted when I heard that Martin had left – and so unexpectedly as well. I was never convinced about GH’s appointment and nothing that’s happened has changed my mind; he seems like a nice fella, but that combination of GH and Garry McAllister has me all confused – the loud tough Scot with the suave softly-spoken Frenchman, but with the wrong order of responsibility. And I do love a manager stamping a style on a club. I think Wenger at Arsenal has led to them playing elegant pass-and-move football. I also love the man-management qualities of Harry Redknapp at Spurs and actually Mick McCarthy has Wolves playing lovely football, though they’ve been a bit cursed results-wise. For me, till the Chelsea game Houllier was playing too many of our youngsters together and it proved we need to rely more on the experienced members of the squad.
And what will it take to get you back to where you were only a few months ago: a club considered to have top four potential???
Well, we’ve been a bit of a disaster at the back recently. In the midfield, Martin relied heavily on Stilian Petrov, whose injury has been a huge problem for us – erm…wonder where THAT happened?! I’ve been really disappointed with the Stephen Ireland situation – I thought he would be brilliant for us as he is a genuine talent; I don’t think he’s been managed well – he’s best when he attacks from midfield, but I don’t think he’s been encouraged to do that – the Petrov situation hasn’t helped..
Of course Paul McGrath! Probably the best Irish player ever! Always had a soft spot for Ray Houghton too. Andy Townsend wasn’t too shabby either. In recent times, I loved watching the engine and commitment of James Milner and was sad to see him go … Mark Albrighton is by far and away the most exciting prospect we have – great skill, great energy though he made one awful howler in the Chelsea game that was punished. Brad Friedel is a fine ‘keeper, but I’ve never warmed to him and I really don’t know why! With Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland on the way out, together with Martin O’Neill gone, it’s hard for me to be a Villa supporter right now … but I have faith that Randy Lerner is a good owner and things will come right before too long (I have to believe!). We’re too good a club to fail.
??Do you have thoughts on or knowledge of Sunderland – the club, the city, the region, the fans?
Ah Quinninho and Steve Bruce – if they stick together, then I see big things happening for Sunderland; I remember seeing a documentary on Peter Reid and being amazed at the passion of the supporters in Sunderland. Quinn has the smarts to be a really good owner (sic), I think, because he gets both perspectives and he brings a very tough business brain to the job. It’s a bit like a good director and a good producer working well together – it makes all the difference to a show..
??Do you take Villa/Birmingham rivalry as seriously as Sunderland and Newcastle fans taken theirs or are you far too grown-up for that???
Never call me a grown up to my face or behind my back ever again. EVER.
Thanks for sending them down the season before last, though. Did you laugh or were you sympathetic?
A bit of both – that’s football.
??Can’t wait for the next World Cup or just relieved it’s three-and-a-half years away?
Although the hubby is learning Russian, I’m more interested in Qatar. Where is it? Does it is exist? I thought it was just an airline…now there’s a thought: footy on jumbo jets – games without frontiers.
??Talk of the World Cup reminds me. Is it time to abandon high-minded ideas about cheating – diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents booked or sent off – and accept it as part of the modern game?
Or if must we keep on trying to stamp it out, how on earth do we do it???
I’m just amazed at the difference in referees really. Some let the most amazingly dodgy things past while others yellow card trivial things. I think we need more consistency in the quality of refereeing and linesmen’s markings, that would be a start.
How will you keep tabs on the game, if you are not there, and what will be the score???
I’ll probably follow it on the BBC Sport site. Also I LOVE listening to football on radio so if I can get it on the airwaves I will. Villa will win (of course) so WATCH OUT Sunderland!
* Pauline McLynn (see her website) on Pauline McLynn: I’m an actress and writer. I played Mrs Doyle in FATHER TED and now Libby in SHAMELESS, amongst other parts. I’ve written eight novels.
I took to following Villa in the mid 80s (though I’d always been a Liverpool head as a kid – a devotion to Steve Heighway) because of the big Irish contingent but as with all of these things I just moved on with the club as the Irish left or retired. I got to see quite a few games last season but not this, sadly. I’ll watch any games I can on tv, though, or listen to the radio and shout a lot…
** And Pauline, to the Press Association on the sex scenes in Shameless: “There’s a lot of s*****g between Frank and Libby, as there is with the beginning of every relationship, and I did get naked. It doesn’t bother me that people have clothes and underwear on during sex scenes but if it’s a time when they should be naked then they should be naked, so I did get my kit off for the first time in my life … well the first time for money.”
David Thelfall, who directed part of the series, played Frank, prompting this comment: “He was great, he talked me through all the shots but I found it very hard to concentrate on my lines with one of the top five actors between my legs.”
*** See also: a US-based Villa fan deplores Ashley Young’s diving exploits
Interview: Colin Randall