Behind Enemy Lines: Aston Villa

FOLLOWING a superb performance at the City Ground on Wednesday night, Millwall are looking for their first Championship win since August 18.

Shaun Williams and Lee Gregory netted late on to salvage a point against Forest with manager-less Aston Villa heading to The Den on Saturday afternoon.

Steve Bruce had a cabbage thrown at him before their game against Preston on Tuesday, and was sacked on Wednesday, leaving Kevin MacDonald in charge of first team affairs.

Lucas Ball spoke to Villa fan Jonny Gould this week.

Twitter: @jonnygould

Why do you support Aston Villa?

I grew up in Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield to be precise. My grandfather’s typewriter workshop was bang next door to Aston Station. He was a professional footballer himself in the very earliest days of professionalism in the 1920s. Villa in the blood.

What’s been your favourite season following Villa?

Best season following Aston Villa was without shadow of a doubt 1980-81 when we won the league championship.

Slap bang in the glory years of mighty Liverpool, we produced the perfect season – and then the year after we added Europe’s greatest prize. I relate everything to that season. That’s why it’s difficult to see us now.

And the worst?

Relegation crash three seasons ago. We looked like we could lose every game. We nearly did. And it was a slow and painful process which was on the cards for five years.

What are your thoughts on Steve Bruce being sacked?

I have nothing but personal respect for Steve Bruce. But by the end, he was out of kilter with the new ownership, never recovered from the play-off defeat at Wembley in May – and most fans had less patience than me.

Who would you like to see replace Bruce and why?

If possible, Dean Smith of Brentford. He’s a Villa fan and cut his managerial teeth at nearby Walsall.

Every time I talk to Brentford fans, they think I’m having a laugh in being able to take him out of a very exciting situation at Griffin Park.

We will see.

Looking ahead to January, where are Villa lacking at the moment?

A manager and coaching staff to bring the best out of a very good squad.

With Millwall not having won since August 18 in the league, are you confident ahead of Saturday’s game?

Millwall couldn’t have picked a better game to play Aston Villa under the circumstances.

Who will be the danger men for the visitors?

That really depends on how the manager lays out the team. The best players now are Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Jonathan Kodjia, Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie. See what I mean? This is a very good squad.

Likewise, which Lions players will Villa be wary of?

Steve Morison can expose our shortcomings in central defence this Saturday.

After coming back from two goals down on Wednesday, do you think Millwall will be buoyed for this game?

I’ve watched this in the Championship for three seasons – and I know full well that any team can beat any other team on any day.

What are your thoughts on Neil Harris?

I have nothing but admiration for Neil Harris. ‘Mr Millwall’, is how I look in from the outside.

The club’s all-time record goalscorer, given the manager’s job presumably because of his club credentials and that respect. I remember his battle with cancer – and the charity work afterwards.

Every club has their heroes, but not all match up to Neil Harris.

What’s your predicted Villa starting XI and formation?

I couldn’t possibly predict a post-Steve Bruce line-up with an untried manager! One thing is for sure, there’ll be a few team changes and the formation may switch.

Will you be at the game on Saturday?

Yes, I will.

The most memorable game I went to between us was in fact at your old Den. Under Graham Taylor, we were chasing the title in 1989, the old ground was as hostile to away teams as any.

Your fans made it show and got right under our skin as we lost 2-0. Who else but Teddy Sheringham and Tony Cascarino scored the goals.

Soon after, Tony joined us – and we missed out on the title, to Liverpool.

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Millwall 2-2 Aston Villa!

Graphic: @ShedCreative