As the dreaded ‘R’ letter looms ever closer next to Aston Villa’s great name, it’s important to keep some perspective.
Bournemouth were hours from liquidation in 2008 & started the same season on -17 points in League Two whilst insolvent & in administration. They also narrowly avoided relegation from the football league altogether. The club was on it’s knees and supporters rallied together to raise funds to keep Bournemouth alive.
As ever, I was intrigued to know an oppositions fan’s views on Villa, learn a little more about Eddie Howe & get some insider information on what to expect in next season as we enter unfamiliar territory. To round things off, are predictions for this Saturday’s encounter at Villa Park:
VU: “How do you perceive Villa as an outsider looking in? What are the good points – what are the bad?”
CC: “It is a bit of travesty really. We could see that the club was in trouble and heading the wrong way over a year ago when we played Villa in the FA Cup.
We might have lost the game but the whole atmosphere around the club was negative and even though you had a young energetic manager like Tim Sherwood he couldn’t lift the place for very long. I know the sale of key players basically did for you this season and it seems that the people in charge did not have the long term future of the club in mind at times, just short term fixes.
Now at least your chairman is looking for football people that have a strong connection with the club to come back in and help. You have to have people that love the club about and that is one reason why AFC Bournemouth have done so well in recent seasons.
The good and the bad points? I suppose the fact that everyone at Villa knows that things must change is a start. Basically the recruitment and the vibe around the club has to change and you can’t keep looking back on the good old days.
It is the same with clubs like Nottingham Forest and Leeds Utd they forget that they have to plan for today and tomorrow. There are other ambitious teams that are working hard and have the right ethics that are keen to play the big old teams and give them a lesson because they are run better and many of the teams in the Premier League and lower down are only just beginning to realise their is a change in the order of things.
VU: “Given that Bournemouth negotiated The Championship (& beyond), what were the key factors behind you getting out of the league? What should we be wary of?”
CC: “Work ethic is number one. The players we have at the club are dedicated and would do anything for the manager. Eddie Howe himself thinks and works AFC Bournemouth 24/7 but there is nothing he would not do to share a moment with a fan that wants to say hello.
The club is approachable and everyone works together to put smiles on faces and even if the team loses no one goes over the top but just looks at how we can do better next time. AFC Bournemouth have been in very dark places and that will always remain with us but it has made us enjoy the good times and more importantly value what we have.
Once we got on such a positive wave it has carried us all the way to the Premier League and we really believe our motto that “Together, anything is possible”.
For this next match Villa have lots to be worried about. A loss puts you down so the last thing Eric Black probably wants to see is the return of Callum Wilson but I just think this might be the game when he starts having been out since last September. They have, like Villa, also been spanked 0-4 in their last game and we had Spurs clobber us as well before that so there is going to be a reaction, especially knowing that the side only needs one more win to finally get over the 40 point mark.
Our captain Tommy Elphick is also back so he will drive the team to get a result. We can’t play as poorly as we did in the last two games, Eddie Howe want allow it.”
VU: “Eddie Howe is a highly rated young manager. What are his strengths? What are his shortcomings? Do you think you will keep him?”
CC: “I find Eddie Howe absolutely amazing. He is our special one. He is so conscious about thinking about others and he protects the players very well. It is a very close group and his success has been very much down to hard work.
He analyses everything to the very last degree and preparation is everything for him on the training pitch and on match days. Above all Eddie wants to win and he has no limit to his ambitions of what can be achieved. That is how he has go a club with a ground of 11,500 into the Premier League – quite incredible.
I wish I knew what his shortcomings were. You might find he is not the best person to be around after a defeat. He’s just very modest and calm which makes him extremely likeable and a person you automatically want to get to know better.
I am sure that some clubs will be tempted to try and get Eddie Howe at some point but I don’t now think he would leave for another Premier League club. He is more interested in building a club with the right people around him and he has that at AFC Bournemouth and the opportunity to make it a much bigger club with the money involved now.
I know he loves European football and somewhere down the line he may see it as a challenge to go to a country like Italy as he loves that kind of football, but the real calling that I believe he will get at some point is the England managers job. Eddie is a proud Englishman who would not turn it down and that is all that worries me about him leaving one day. Maybe he would come back afterwards though”.
VU: Bournemouth now find themselves in a great position. Where do you see your club being in 5 years? Where do you want them to be, is a “Leicester” as likely as a “Portsmouth”?
CC: “It all depends on what Eddie Howe wants to do I feel. If he sees the club entering European football and challenging in the top half of the Premier League it is a very bright future.
AFC Bournemouth will just take one season at a time though and the message is always to do better than what the club did in the previous season. I am not sure us fans really know quite what the club has achieved in recent years. The rise has been so fast that we have all been driving forward so hard and have not taken a look at where we are really.
We just want to get better at what we do and that goes right through the club from the programme sellers to the stewards, hospitality and marketing. I think there are massive opportunities for the club now with foreign investment and players from overseas being attracted to the club and a worldwide fan base available to it.
We will always not lose where we have come from but the club will grow and that could see the Cherries become a real challenger for cup competitions. Staying at the top though is not easy and we have to keep the hunger or we could indeed fall like a Portsmouth.”
VU: “How do you think that the game will pan out; Prediction time.”
CC: “Both teams know that their season could come to an end with the result of this game. I expect it to be very open and very end-to-end. I’d guess both teams to score and it to be very entertaining. I don’t see a winner though and I’m predicting 1-1.
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