Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
This evening Villa are on Sky for the first time this year as they take on Nottingham Forest at City ground. Forest of course pulled off a giant killing last week in the FA Cup, defeating Arsenal 4-2.
To get the lowdown on Forest, I’ve asked Forest fan @Ranny_Fash, who is also a member of @Forza_Garibaldi; a campaign to help improve the atmosphere at Nottingham Forest games.
How would you rate your season so far out of 10 and why?
Well….I’m going for an unspectacular 6/10 – on the pitch – after surviving by the teeniest of margins last season we set out for what was hoped to be a bright new dawn under Mark Warburton. He’d had time to make some changes to the squad and alter the way we played. Pre-season had been positive and we were playing some seriously slick stuff, but unfortunately we were shipping goals like they were going out of fashion – again! And no matter how pretty our football (sometimes) was, we just couldn’t keep a clean sheet if our lives depended on it! That and also the fact that we either won or lost…. we went 29 games without a draw until we drew with Preston in December (who spookily was the last team we drew with midway through last season).
The murmurs of discontent started to rumble, as some fans saw Warburton as having no Plan B (which the Rangers fans had said to us when we got him) and appeared to be very stubborn in some of his team selections. The phrase ‘fine margins’ became a mantra like saying every time we lost or failed to put yet another team to the sword despite making 1,387 more passes than them! And after 2 woeful Christmas period home defeats to manager less Sheff Weds (0 wins in 7), and an abysmal Sunderland, it was becoming clear that things could be changing. To be fair, most fans were prepared to stick with him and see what he could do in this transfer window as our record for shipping managers in and out has been pretty awful during the Fawaz years – which brings us to off the pitch, where our new owners have ticked all the boxes so far, with stability and structure being added in every way, so they are to be commended for that. Obviously, it’s still early days, the sacking of Warburton and the hiring of Karanka does show their intent. Let’s just hope they don’t have us repeating the cycle again in 6 months’ time!
Which Forest players should Villa be wary of?
Well, err…I could tell you about a certain Ben Brereton (you might remember him from this fixture last season?) but we have others who bring plenty to the table. Kieran Dowell has been a fantastic loan sighing from Everton, he’s our top scorer and has a wand of a left foot (don’t all lefties?) a revitalised Eric Lichaj (remember him?) is on top of his game right now, and Ben Osborn will be covering every blade of grass as usual.
Do Nottingham Forest need to strengthen in January? If so where?
We need a solid spine – a commanding centre back, a hard as nails midfielder and if we’re being greedy striker and an experienced keeper to help Jordan Smith.
If you could, which past Forest player would you bring into the starting XI?
Stan Collymore or Des Walker, anyone who’s knows Forest knows just what either of those players would bring to his side right now!
If you were Aitor Karanka and had to sign one Aston Villa player for Forest, who would it be?
Tough one, we could do with someone like a Glenn Whelan or James Chester or an Albert Adomah please.
Was Mark Warburton sacked too soon, or was his P45 deserved?
The juries out on that, like I said earlier there were plenty of arguments either side for sticking or twisting, only time will tell I guess, and all Forest fans are fed up of being the club that changes manager with the seasons. So the glimmer of hope that we had for sticking with Warburton feels a little jaded now he’d been dumped but then again it does feel like a significant upgrade to get Karanka in, he’s talked a good game so far so let’s see if he can back that up in the coming months.
Score prediction for Saturday?
A repeat of last season’s result would be perfect, but I’ll settle for a 2-2 draw!