It’s been a good weekend for precocious youth. A kid from South Shields – surely that must make him a Sunderland fan, despite Cheryl Cole’s attentions – is voted best karaoke singer. And young Josh Henwood* sees his preview of SAFC vs Aston Villa appear at Salut! Sunderland not once but twice. A technical fault (the editor’s incompetence) caused it to appear early. Josh, another Villa fan found at the VillaTalk site, is very welcome all the same and offers us mixed views on how good Martin O’Neill is while predicting we’ll be beaten by Villa but finish seventh, tipping England for the World Cup final and rebuking us for the random choice of Ashley Young’s name for the Eduardo question because Young has never cheated in his life …
Villa seem to be doing the business this season. Has your time come again at last?
I think that that Villa have got back to ways of old and before I was born! Which is good, as there is a buzzing atmosphere around VP and a real expectation that we are going to win rather than lose!
It’s also real exciting times at VP with the Carling Cup Semis amongst us for the first time since 2004 (When we were cheated out of it by Bolton Wanderers and a real expectation almost of at least one trip to Wembley and maybe even Champions League action next year!
What is so good about Martin O’Neill? How good a manager and how does he rate when compared with greats of the past?
I’m actually rather 50:50 about MON. I think that his transfer market action has only come good now but his tactics have sometimes lacked in my eyes. However, he has given the team a new wind which has given us a more positive edge in our games rather than going on the defensive in every game like we were under DOL and GT.
Did you go to the Carling Cup game at the Stadium of Light? What do make of Sunderland this season, leaving aside any residual antipathy towards Steve Bruce and do you have any strong memories, good or bad, of previous games against us?
I haven’t been to the Stadium of Light due to college commitments and not being able to afford coming back home at 3am! However I’ve heard off people who have been up there that it was a great night for us despite your dominance throughout!
Sunderland have had a great start to the season this year and you have the team spirit to go strongly for a Top 6 finish. I’ve only been to one Villa v Sunderland game, the 1-0 defeat at VP 2 years ago. I was absolutely gutted as I felt that Villa wiped the floor with Sunderland yet one cheeky goal was enough to nick the points (editor’s note: was that the game when your keeper made a great save yards outside the box, under the nose of Howard Webb, and somehow got away with it?).
What do you really think of Birmingham City? Do you like having them back in the Premier because of the great rivalry or do you just want them to sink without trace?
The Blues will always be good for a banter with workmates and I do welcome them into the Premier League. But only to see the fans give Villa fans lots of false stick which falls flat after being relegated once again .
Who do you most want to see in a Villa shirt and who wouldn’t you mind seeing the back of?
Being realistic, we need a top striker and I would like to like to see Robbie Keane or Jermain Defoe with the Villa.
I don’t think that the Villa can afford to lose anybody at the moment with still having a small-ish squad but I guess that I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the fringe players go, like Salifou for example.
Name this season’s top four in order, and the bottom three
If Villa didn’t appear in the first list, why not. If we weren’t in either, where will we finish?
I don’t think that Sunderland have enough in them to finish in the Top 4 and I think that it will be very close between Villa, Tottenham and Liverpool for 4th. But I think that you will give it just as good-a push as anyone and end around 7th. You heard it here first.
Club vs country. Rooting for England all the way in S. Africa or too concerned with Villa to care much?
Club and country! The way I see that is that Club is dominant during the league season and then all the clubs get behind the country in the Summer for the WC! England in the final for 2010. Again, heard it here first.
The Eduardo question: you’ll finish second or even top if you win your last game. Young flies into the box in the last second and falls over dramatically. Everyone knows it’s a dive except the ref who gives the penalty, which you convert. You take it guiltily, you take it gladly or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you’d only drawn and missed out?
I hope to God that teams around us lost on final day so that we could say that we would have got it anyway. I would be guilty about it, but then again, every club, especially at the top, have cheated in one form or another, so those 20 seconds of guilt would fade as I keeping watching ‘Rooney dive’ on Youtube or something like that! Anyway, this is all hypothetical, Ashley Young has never been known to cheat!
Given how much cheating goes on, should N’Gog and Thierry Henry and maybe others be added to that question?
If you added everyone who has cheated at football on the question then you might as well add 70/80 per cent of players including those that play in Sunday League! I for one have taken many a player’s legs in a 1-on-1 situation near goal!
What one thing would you change in the way football is run to improve the game or the lot of supporters?
Adopt the 5 officials initiative in everything! Video refereeing may take the whole debate part out of football (which really is the best bit!) but 5 officials would make things more accurate without being 100per cent!
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
I won’t be sadly! EMA can’t cover so many extra games to travel to at the moment as well as my season card with the three Blackburn cup ties coming up! I think that it will be a very close game obviously, one goal will decide it and I’d put my money on the Villa!
* Josh Henwood on Josh Henwood: I’m 17 and a college student in Birmingham. I’ve been a Villa supporter since birth and a season ticket holder for three years now