Blackburn preview and let’s get behind McLeish.
The start of the football season is always special with the first home game of the season usually an exciting occasion. In a pretty eventful summer, even by Villa standards, it will be nice to finally focus on what really matters….the football.
Blackburn are the visitors and while the fixture itself is pretty uninspiring (with us playing then 232 times in the last few seasons) it could have been a lot worse and does at least offer us a good chance of securing a victory. Indeed we last faced Blackburn only a few weeks ago and came out on top, a typical poachers effort from Darren Bent the catalyst for victory. Yes it was ‘only’ a preseason game but anyone who watched it would have seen it was far more similar to a premiership encounter, and this will hopefully be a good omen for us. In other recent matches against Rovers, we’ve also fared well and I sincerely hope that this good record continues tomorrow. Blackburn didn’t have the best of starts with losing to Wolves so will certainly be keen (pardon the pun) to secure a much needed positive result.
How we line up will be interesting. After securing a valuable point in our opening game at Fulham, I’m hoping Mr Shay Given (who has been passed fit) has a far more quiet afternoon tomorrow. Despite starting the match with three strikers, we didn’t really create much and we will need to provide our main man Darren Bent with a lot better service. I don’t expect too many changes with regards to personnel but I do expect us to be a lot more attacking. Charles N’Zogbia will have had another week of much needed physical training, and I expect us to offer much more of a threat. Alex McLeish is not stupid, and after his controversial appointment, he won’t play negative tactics at home. I think we may surprise a few people this season and if we can continue the attacking football that Gerard Houllier was beginning to implement with some much needed defensive stability, then the majority of fans will be happy with that.
Sticking with McLeish, and after a good reception last week at Fulham, I hope that this continues tomorrow and the fans get firmly behind the manager and the team. Booing, banners and the like don’t help anyone and even if you’re still not convinced by our new man in charge then don’t let it effect your support of the team. There is nothing any of us can do about it now, Alex McLeish is our manager, so let’s get behind him. He’s made an extremely brave decision in replacing Houllier and is already saying the right things with regards to the supporters:
“I’m looking forward to walking along the track, taking my place in the dugout and seeing the team kick-off, hopefully to victory.
“Ever since I moved across the city, there’s obviously been a lot of controversy.
“The first event was away in Hong Kong, the next one was the away game at Fulham and now it’s the home game against Blackburn.
“But that’s what you have to do in life. When you get a challenge, you’ve got to confront it.
“Don’t shirk away from it. You’ve got to front every one of these challenges head on.
“It would be great to think that you just turn up on the pitch and the fans give you full backing from start to finish, but we know that we have to excite them.
“We have to get them up on their feet, getting right behind the players, intimidating the opposition, making them feel a little bit apprehensive about their task of coming to Villa Park.
“So these are all important ingredients so that the fans can do their bit.”
In the midst of these quotes is the following; ‘When you get a challenge, you’ve got to confront it’ and there can be no doubt he has. It seems almost surreal to think back a few months but the level of hostility towards McLeish was incredible. 20,000 or so people joined a ‘We don’t want McLeish’ page on Facebook, there were protests at Villa Park and I lost count of the supporters who said they wouldn’t have anything to do with the Villa when he was in charge. It will be interesting to see what these fans think now, as to date, McLeish has done a fine job in his tenure as Villa boss. We kept a clean sheet away from home in the Premiership, a feat not managed since April 2010 in his first game. We’ve also seen Villa make two purchases that could prove to be inspired. Given is already looking like a steal at £3.5 million, and when N’Zogbia is up to full speed, we’ll have one of the most exciting players in the league wearing a Villa top. What’s not to like?
Finishing off now and I’m hoping that we secure the three points tomorrow afternoon, to continue the positive start to the season. I won’t make a prediction (naturally due to not wanting to jinx the team) but I hope that come 5pm tomorrow, Blackburn have even more reason to hate playing us. The club needs the win, the fans need the win and so does Alex McLeish. Let’s get behind the team, the manager and make Villa Park the fortress it should be.
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