Premier League Previews: Aston Villa
What are you most excited about heading into the new season?
Just being back in the top tier. We were only away three seasons, but it was starting to feel like much longer. Simple things like being back on Match Of the Day, which I took for granted before. Never again.
I’m excited to see our talisman Jack Grealish back where he belongs as well. I’ve no doubt he won’t just going to get himself in the England squad, but become one of Southgate’s first picks. The guy’s a genius.
What worries you ahead of the new season?
My main concern is that sections of our fanbase won’t give Dean Smith time if we don’t hit the ground running. We’re demanding fanbase, and rightly so, but there needs to be some realism.
Dean Smith should be given the next 2-3 years whatever happens. If we’re bottom of the league at Christmas – or even to go down – Dean Smith is the man I want in charge of my football club. He just ‘gets it’.
What have you made of your club’s transfer activity this summer?
Madness! To be the league’s highest spenders at the time of writing is very encouraging. Lazy comparisons to Fulham are grating, though. We saw a high number of squad players leave post play-offs, and with not all loan players returning, we had to do a lot of business to break even in terms of squad size.
What unpopular opinion do you have about your team?
I wouldn’t break up the Hourihane/Grealish/McGinn combo in midfield. Obviously we needed other bodies in central midfield, but I think that should be our starting Premier League midfield. I don’t believe you necessarily need a ‘sitter’ every week – those three all have game intelligence and can interchange effectively. They compliment each other perfectly.
Who would win if your squad had a WWE Royal Rumble style fight?
Tyrone Mings – the bloke is a monster. I can’t think of any other contender to be honest. If you’ve watched him, you’ll know what I mean.
Mings is built like a God. I’d fancy him against anyone in the League; he could have easily had a career in the WWE if football hadn’t worked out for him.
Where do you think your team will realistically finish in the Premier League?
Genuinely, anywhere from 10th-17th. Dean Smith doesn’t put teams out to defend – he’ll have a go, even against the big boys. I’d like to say we won't be in a dogfight, but lose a few games and it’s very easy to go on a bad run. That’s what we need to avoid.
Life on the line, I reckon we’ll come 12th. I’d be very happy with that in our first season back. I’d like us to be comfortable – my heart’s still recovering from the play-offs!