Continuing with our rival fan previews for the 2013-2014 season, Damian Dugdale from The Villa Blog talks all things Aston Villa. Follow @avfcblog on Twitter.

Scott: How did you rate 2012-2013 for your club?

Damian: Tough to answer. Obviously the final position is unacceptable for a club of our stature, even though it’s accepted by many, but from February onwards we started to play some decent football and got some decent results. If we’re back at school, I’d give us a C+ if only because of the promise.

Scott: Who was your best player?

Damian: For me it was Brad Guzan but other Aston Villa fans will pick Benteke or Lowton. For me, it’s Guzan because he saved us so many points last season and nothing was set up for him. I like Benteke and I’m happy he is staying for another season and Lowton scored some crackers, but Guzan was the difference for me last season.

Scott: Which player are you expecting most important in 2013-2014?

Damian: I’ll answer but I might change it as we’ve signed a couple of players that could impress but as of today, I’ll say Benteke, which is strange considering my previous answer. But if this season he kicks on from last season like we all hope he could, then he could be the player that helps us get back into Europe… again, if he kicks on like we all hope he can.

Scott: If you could take one United player, who would it be?

Damian: Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got players that could walk into our team but we all know Rooney or van Persie are never going to play for us as things stand so it’s sort of pointless picking one of those. I’d like
to have Ashley Young back as he offered something and I think he has matured, but I’ll pass for now.

Scott: Are you pleased Fergie’s retired?

Damian: Not really. I know I’m probably not supposed to write this next part but the man was a genius and was good for the game. I think it opens it up for everyone else and I’m not convinced with Moyes, only because everyone knows the man that followed Sir Alex was always going to fail, but that part just makes it more interesting.

Scott: Where do you think your club will finish this season?

Damian: I think we’ll finish top half. I’ll write nothing more than that and I know it’s a fairly large prediction, but if you take our form from February, we’re top 8 and if you take our form from March, we’re top six. Predicting top half is an easy way for me to play safe but also feel quite confident.

Scott: Where do you think United will finish?

Damian: If we all accept that whoever follows Sir Alex is going to fail and you’d have to be mad to not agree with that, then what we have to try and figure out is how quickly and to what degree. I know Moyes was
given a lengthy contract, but this is football and we all know contracts in essence mean nothing, but we all also know that Manchester United want consistency and see the benefits of it. You’ve also got a new CEO that will want to demonstrate he’s the boss, despite on occasion sitting next to the man with a stand named after him who we all know is the real boss at Old Trafford. Where I’m going with this is this; if you finish the season with David Moyes, I think Manchester United could finish out of the top four but I think there
is a chance you wont finish the season with him as your manager only because the new CEO has one time that he can put his foot down with your owners, so I’ll say second. But after that, Sir Alex will be
playing more golf.

Scott: How important was it that Benteke signed a new deal and have your feelings for him changed since his transfer request?

Damian: I’d have actually preferred it that we said not to the transfer and just told him to play or not play on his supposed £20k a week because we all know that if he has another good season, we’re going to go
through the same next summer. All we’ve done is stroke his ego and throw away £2m. As for my feelings, I didn’t really have any; he’s a transient figure that for now represents the Football Club I support. I think he is a very good player with lots of potential, but so was Roque Santa Cruz.

Scott: Do you take much satisfaction from seeing the likes of Young, Milner and Downing going on to be fairly average since leave Villa?

Damian: I think to an extent, it goes to show what Martin O’Neill is good at; making average players look good and above average players look very good. I never rated Downing before he came to Villa but he impressed, even though for every successful pass there appeared to be one lost. As for Milner; I wrote 100 times that he wasn’t a winger but when he played in the middle for us, he was an engine worth admiring and created opportunities too. Young; I’d have him back tomorrow because he needs to be a big fish in a small pond.




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