As we head into our second Premier League game at Selhurst Park of the new season, TEB had a chat with popular Villa fan group 7500 To Holte about their hopes for the season, view ahead of the game and much more.
Q. Welcome back to the Premier League, how does it feel after the success of last season?
It feels absolutely surreal to be back in the Premier League after a three year absence as a large majority of the Villa fan base could not have foreseen this happening prior to our 10 game winning streak last season. With that being said, getting promoted via the play-offs was simply the best way to go up and I wouldn’t trade that ride (no matter how bad my nerves were) for anything in the world. Hopefully, Villa can keep a piece of that momentum going forward and we can have a thrilling season.
Q. What are your hopes for the new season?
If you would have told me a year ago that Villa would be back in the Premier League for the 2019/2020 season, I would have called you insane! Personally, I believe our ambitions for this season need to be realistic and consolidating near the middle to bottom of the table would certainly be a success in my eyes. I think it’s fair to say that many football fans have pointed out the money that Villa have spent this summer and even though it is an extremely large amount, having a season where all of those new faces can embed into the team and create a real comradery has to be a main priority for us. To summarise, I would easily take 15th right now if someone offered it to me; hope that becomes a reality.
Q. Do you think it is more difficult for a side that is promoted through the play offs to get ready for the new season?
Not necessarily, every team that comes into the Premier League via the play-offs is completely different. If you look at the likes of Norwich City, Hull City, Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City; each of these teams had a completely different identity and concept that internal parties within each respective club believed would keep them in the Premier League.
With that being said, some of those plans worked out and others did not, but I truly believe that Villa’s long-term vision will come to fruition (probably sounds super biased, but oh well!). At the end of the day, clubs who are promoted via the play-offs essentially have a smaller planning/transfer window, but have solid foundation within the club can make such a disadvantage null and void.
Q. It was a busy summer at Villa Park with plenty of in-comings, similar to how Fulham approached last season, so do you think Villa will avoid the same fate?
Yes, both Fulham and Aston Villa splashed the cash during their first season back in the Premier League, but there are massive differences that people have missed out on. The biggest and most significant between the two is the necessity to spend the cash; Fulham did not have to make all of those signings whereas Villa absolutely needed to add to their squad.
If you think about it, Villa released approximately ten players in the summer in which were either on large wages or were on the back-end of their careers. These were players that simply would not cut it in the Premier League and would most likely keep us routed to the bottom of the table if keeping the status quo was chosen. Football fans also need to keep in mind that the club, under the guidance of our CEO, Christian Purslow, now have a clear vision and that is to get younger, hungrier, and essentially build for the future. These are things I don’t believe Fulham came anywhere close to doing and is ultimately why they struggled for the entirety of last season. Essentially, having an executive and head coach that did not see eye-to-eye on transfers is what really let Fulham down last year and it is a shame in many ways.
Q. The appointment of Dean Smith has worked perfectly along with the addition of John Terry but have they exceeded fans expectations?
There is always luck when it comes to football and I think that both Dean Smith and John Terry would admit that they have encountered some of that luck throughout the course of last season and even at the beginning of this season too. Smith was essentially brought in to get fans on the clubs side again and to introduce an exciting, attack minded style of football; something that came to fruition last season and certainly will this campaign as well. As I stated before, no Villa fan could have ever imagined the crazy ride we enjoyed last season, so any success we see on the pitch this season is a bonus we will happily accept.
Q. One to watch for Villa this season?
A lot of people are probably expecting me to say Wesley, Grealish, or McGinn for this question, but I would keep a keen eye on Tyrone Mings. Watching a centre-back may not be the sexiest thing in the world, but the skill, effort, and ambition that Mings shows in each and every game has made him a clear fan favourite. There is a reason why some Villa fans believe that Mings could feature in the England setup one day and that time could certainly come sooner rather than later.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
If Christian Benteke was at the peak of his powers still, I would obviously snap your hand off at taking him back, but the clear and obvious answer here is Wilfried Zaha. Any club in the Premier League and beyond would do just about anything to sign the pacey and tricky winger; let’s all admit that fact.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
From a Villa perspective, you have to look out for right-back, Frederic Guilbert. If you need a reason why, go and look at the highlights of last week’s Everton match and you will see just how much trouble he gave them; I’ll leave it at that!
In regards to Palace, Patrick van Aanholt has to be a player the Villa boys need to watch out for as his pace and will to get forward during certain points of the game can cause any team a significant amount of trouble.
Yes, I picked full-backs here and yes I am excited to see these two battle it out for the 90 minutes!
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace both as a club and what you expect from us this season?
As a club, I truly respect Palace and applaud what your management team has done to keep the club’s Premier League status since your promotion year; not many promoted teams can stay up for as long as Palace have and that is an accomplishment in itself.
If I look through my claret and blue crystal ball (see what I did there? Clever right?), I have Palace finishing between the 10th-13th place mark. At this point in time, I feel as though Palace are missing some additional fire power and too much of that responsibility clearly falls onto the shoulders of Zaha; leaving clear missed opportunities when it comes to grabbing more goals and more importantly, more points.
Q. Your prediction?
Saturday’s match will be a tight one and I am sure we will see a flurry of goal scoring opportunities at either end, but I have to stick with my gut here and go for a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park.