Following on from swapping of interviews ahead of the first leg, The Width of a Post has again linked up with the impressive Aston Villa site, My Old Man Said, to find out the opposition mood ahead of tomorrow’s second leg. You can read our views on the game via My Old Man Said here.
David Michael answers our questions.
What was the fall out for Villa from the first leg? You’ve had a lot of media criticism…
You get beat by a League Two team, you expect to take stick. It’s a no-win situation! It was a shock, although personally, I was indifferent until you scored your third goal. Then there was some cursing at Villa.
The main fallout was the fans that started saying “forget the cup we need to concentrate on the league”. Which roughly translated is just people bottling the challenge of turning this game around. Now with two games max left in this cup, the only way it’s going to affect Villa’s league performances is it’ll be a confidence destroyer if they get knocked-out, or put pep in their step for the league campaign if they win through to the final.
Overall, Bradford’s efforts are what the romance of the cup is all about. It’s a real shame that clubs, managers, fans and the media have belittled the cups in recent years, but that’s the curse of the modern game for you.
Since that night, it has been a defeat and a 2-2 draw for Villa. How has this affected morale and confidence amongst supporters?
Not too bad actually, because we have been creating chances and with a bit of luck would have had four or even six points. The first half against West Brom was pretty damn good, and actually gave Villa fans a lot of heart for the Bradford game. The much-maligned Fabian Delph looked good and Gabby and N’Zogbia looked different players from what we’ve been used to this season. Also Ron Vlaar got 90 minutes under his belt. While Bradford had their feet up over the weekend, Villa did take a few knocks and we’ve lost Nathan Baker for the semi, but Vlaar being back covers that.
As you say Ron Vlaar returned on Saturday and will be in contention on Tuesday. How important is he?
Well, truth be told, we still don’t know how good he is! Its games like this semi where we’ll start to find out. What he does give us is more of a physical, hard man presence at the back, so you’ll be less likely to bully us on set pieces…although our poor defensive organisaton still leaves us vulnerable.
How do see the second leg going? You’ve written a fair amount about Tranmere 20 years ago…
Well Tranmere gets a mention because it replicates the current situation. 3-1 down to a lower league team. Villa had a much better team that day and, no disrespect to Bradford, but Tranmmere were also a better team than Bradford (being from the Championship).
I think Villa will win, it obviously depends on how and if the maths add up as to whether they qualify. Whether I want to revisit the drama of the Tranmere game is another matter, although I would if we won.
The key will be Villa’s midfield (I would even consider giving Stephen Ireland a start). If they can get a hold of the game and the fans get behind the team, then the forwards are capable of goals.
But as I always say, Villa never ever do anything the easy way. They’ll probably be 3-0 up and coasting, then you’ll score from a corner in the last five minutes to take the game into extra time. Just because that’s the way the Villa roll.
Finally, with 6,500 of us travelling to Birmingham, where do you recommend we go for good beer and food? Will we get a friendly welcome from Villa fans?
In regards a friendly welcome, I think all should be well. I think it might be a bit more friendly if the score wasn’t 1-3 though!
As for eating and drinking well, as I mentioned to you before, the official away pub close to the ground is The Witton Arms (get off at Witton train station). It’s across the road from one of the main Villa pubs the Aston Hotel, so there’s normally some good banter on the street, although they’ll be a few old bill about.
If you get in early and have time for some city centre beers – obviously a pub’s a pub, when it comes to match days, but if they’re any real ale aficionados amongst you, you might want to seek out The Wellington (37 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN), which is 10 mins away from News Street station. Close-by to that is The Old Joint Stock Pub (4 Temple Row West, B2 5NY) which is an impressive Victorian building with good ale.
As for food, obviously Birmingham is the capital of the Balti (although you guys know a thing or two about curry). Too many Balti houses to mention but check out http://www.baltitriangle.com for the lay of the land.
A big thanks to David from My Old Man Said and good luck to Villa for the rest of the season (after tomorrow night that is!)