As Everton prepares to take on Aston Villa this weekend, we here at Royal Blue Mersey are going through our own match preparations. To get a better idea of our competition we asked a few questions of Rory Skehan over at our fellow SB Nation blog, 7500 to Holte.
RBM: Villa is in last place having picked up just give points in twelve matches. The club escaped relegation last season while making an amazing run to the FA Cup final. There is obviously talent on this squad; so what's the problem?
I can't place the blame entirely at Tim Sherwood's feet, as obviously some responsibility has to be on the players. But Sherwood directly cost us points with some baffling in game tactical decisions and substitutions. He stubbornly refused to play some of Villa's more talented players, which frustrated the fan base beyond measure. While his claim that the performances on the pitch deserved more points may have some truth to it, at the end of the day, we languished on 4 points while the rest of the league rose further and further above us each passing week. We became the laughing stock of the league, the easiest three points any club would have all season. But our draw against Manchester City might suggest that's no longer the case. *knocks on wood*
RBM: Remi Garde took over earlier this month. What are the fan's thoughts on him? What will it take for him to keep his job for the full duration of his contract?
We're only one game into his tenure, and he has already impressed Villa fans. He's certainly more calm and measured than Sherwood was, which reflected in his line up against City. His starting 11, dare I say it, actually made sense. I couldn't say the same for a single Sherwood line up. You can't say anything for sure after only a single game, but he's certainly made a good first impression.
If he pulls off a miracle and keeps us up this year, I'd go so far to say that he'll be able to stay at Villa as long as he wants. He'll be a hero. The thing about Garde is that if he's able to right the ship this season, Villa could be looking at a very bright future. He has experience at a top European club (Lyon), and is spoken highly of by figures like Arsene Wenger and Gerard Houllier. He seems like the type of manager you can really build a club around, and hopefully he'll provide some much needed stability to Villa.
RBM: The winter transfer window will be open soon. Are there any targets that you want the club to go after?
Since Garde has only been here a few weeks, it's too soon to tell if he's content with the existing squad or wants to bring in a few faces of his own. If he does decide to spend, I'd imagine he'd look to bring in a left-back (see below), and possibly look for a striker or goalkeeper. In all honestly, he can go after anyone he wants if he thinks it'll keep Villa from being relegated.
RBM: Unfortunately Jordan Amavi suffered ligament damage in his knee while on international duty. Can he be replaced and who should be expected to step up for him?
Short answer - no. Amavi's injury is not only a huge blow for the club, but for the player as well. He's an incredibly exciting player, and has a really bright future ahead of him. As for Villa, well, we've searched for someone to fill the hole at left-back for years now, and Amavi seemed to be the answer. Without him, we're left with some pretty uninspiring choices. Kieran Richardson is probably the favorite to fill in for now, and while he hasn't been as atrocious as last year, he's not anyone I'd like to depend on for the long haul. Joe Bennett and Aly Cissokho could potentially both be recalled from loan spells, and while not the most exciting names, they do have experience in the Premier League. So there are some options, but I don't feel great about any of them.
RBM: What is the Villa perception of Everton? That is, are they viewed as a contender or just another mid-table welterweight?
I think it depends on who you ask. Personally, I would classify them as somewhere in between. I've seen them play some excellent games, and would probably have them above other mid-table sides - but they lack the consistency to be legitimate challengers, at least right now.
Thanks to Rory for taking the time to answer our questions. We also answered a few of theirs so make sure to head over to 7500 to Holte to read our responses.