Aston-Villas-Tom-Cleverley-celebrates-scoring-against-EvertonWith the 2015-16 Premier League starting at the weekend, RoM has spoken to rival fans about the season ahead. Damian Dugdale from The Villa Blog shares his thoughts.

Scott: How did Villa do in 2014-15?

Damian: We survived relegation by one place. It was horrible and very close to a tragedy. A little like when your club tried to replace Sir Alex Ferguson but with more long term implications.

Scott: How do you expect them to do in 2015-16?

Damian: Tim Sherwood has a lot of what you need to be a successful manager, but we’re yet to see if he’s got what really matters. There was little ‘new manager syndrome’ impact when he came in last season, he took us
from 18th to 17th, so the hope is that now he’s as good as brought in an entire new starting eleven, we’ll be able to see what he’s really got. What I expect this season is to figure out of Sherwood has what it takes or not.

Scott: Who do you think will be your best player?

Damian: Too difficult to answer this. Sherwood has brought in eight (9 if you count Sinclair) players that can all start, so most of them I’ve not seen. However, I’d like to think that this could be the season for Jack Grealish. Too many times we’ve had a player arrive in the scene from the Academy with a lot of hype and not deliver. Jack made a positive impact last season, but if he’s to shine one day, that has to continue this season and if it does continue then we could have our best player right there.

Scott: Are you happy with Villa’s business in the transfer window?

A lot of Aston Villa fans will tell you they knew all about these players, I have to hold my hand up and say I knew very little to nothing about most of them. Am I happy that we will likely be starting next season with pretty much a brand new team and we’ve lost the likes of Vlaar, Delph and Benteke; no.

But I’m willing to give them a chance and I hope that just because Sherwood couldn’t convince Benteke that a move to Liverpool was the wrong move (I could have) that he knows what he’s doing. These new players, as all new players, create a bit of optimism, but I prefer to judge after I’ve seen them play 15 times. I’ll tell you if I was happy next season.

Scott: What did you think of Tom Cleverley last season? Are you disappointed he didn’t stay?

Damian: A little disappointed he didn’t stay, yes. He didn’t have the best of starts but from January onwards we started to see his strengths and I think he’ll do at Everton. But I think players like Cleverley are often the forgotten hero in a side. I’m not saying he was at United, but last season he played an important role for us and often had a great performance but it was overlooked because Benteke scored.

Scott: How do you rate your manager?

Damian: I like Sherwood and I think it’s difficult to not like him, but he moved us from 18th to 17th last season from the middle of February. He’s also never had a transfer window before this one so I’d rather rate him in October, January and at the end of the season.

Scott: Where do you think United will finish this season?

Damian: I don’t think you can argue that United have done some good business, but they’ve also done a lot and when so many changes take place I always worry that you need time for these changes to impact the day to day performances, basically for the players to get and the football to come together.

However, you’re also paying for intelligent players that should get this quite quickly and you get the impression when just listening to Van Gaal that he would have drilled into them exactly what is expected and that they’ll be ready.

I think you’ll either challenge Chelsea for the title or you’ll be fighting with Liverpool and Everton for fourth, but you will beat them both to it.

Scott: Who do you think will win the league?

Damian: Hand on heart, I think it will be between you and Chelsea. I think Arsenal will start well, like they always do and Manchester City will give their manager the season but we all know after spending all that
money on Sterling and bringing in Delph, that he’s off next summer. But it’s too tough to call on who will win the league.