Q&A with the Aston Villa blog: 7500 to Holte

BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - JANUARY 29: Gerard Houllier of Aston Villa looks on before the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Fourth Round match between Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park on January 29 2011 in Birmingham England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

With Aston Villa's pending visit to the Theatre of Dreams, it was time for a Q&A with Aaron from SB Nation's Villa blog, 7500 to Holte.  As per custom, I've allowed the community to ask the questions.  The flip side of the the Q&A should be up on their site sometime tonight.



Where does the recent loanee Michael Bradley fit into Villa's midfield? Do you expect him to get regular time with the quality depth Villa has?

He'll be a rotational player at most I think, at least this year. He's a good prospect and I think that if the move becomes permanent he could slide in alongside Jean Makoun in a more box-to-box role, but between Petrov, Reo-Coker, Bannan and Delph there's just not a ton of room right now. A lot of people seem to think he's coming in to be a key player right away, but I'd be absolutely shocked to see that happen.

Judging by Aaron's twitter feed, where does his man-crush on Eric Lichaj rate on a scale 0-10? 456? How much playing time can he expect the rest of the season with the signing of loanee Kyle Walker?

I adore Eric Lichaj, but he's still a prospect at this point. I think that the Manchester City game coupled with a few poor performances with the reserves was a signal to the club that he's not quite ready to step in and start just yet. He's got a lot of talent and I think he's going to be a decent player in the next few years, but for now he's not quite there and I don't expect to see a lot of him the rest of the way. I was really hoping he'd go out on loan, especially seeing as how Houllier has tended towards using four central defenders across the back against more threatening attacking teams, but it looks like that's not going to happen. Lichaj is third choice (at best) at the moment, and I think that's fair.

Villa seem to have so many quality midfielders, if you could submit a starting XI to Houllier, who you pick?

It's a tough question, because a lot of Villa's players (especially in the middle) are fairly one dimensional and so my preference might be different depending on who the opposition is. In general though, I think that Villa's best XI, assuming an average opponent, would be:

Friedel-Walker-Collins-Dunne-Clark-Albrighton-Makoun-Bannan-Downing-Young-Bent. That leaves out Carlos Cuellar and Gabriel Agbonlahor (amongst others) and though I think they are probably two of Villa's best eleven players, I'm not sure there's really a place for them at the moment. Not the worst problem to have.

Gerard Houllier seems to be polarizing, how do 7500 to Holte feel about him? Any clue as to what might happen in the summer? What Did you think of GH’s appointment of boss at the time? And now what after a few months in charge?

I can't speak for anyone else, but when he was hired I thought he was the best choice of those available. When Villa went through that stretch where everything fell apart, I still felt that he was the best choice of everyone available. Martin O'Neill built the squad in his own image and the young players were trained to play a very traditionally English style. There was never any way a transition to a more Continental style was going to be a smooth transition, and coupled with a rash of key injuries and some unrest in the squad, it got ugly. But it was absolutely the right direction for the club to move towards, and as the players get a feel for what Houllier wants the results have improved. I think he's a short-term solution, but I think he can get Villa to where they need to be in order to make a leap towards not only qualifying for but actually competing in European competition.

How you feel about the recent addition of Darren Bent?

Darren Bent is not a complete forward. He does one thing, and that's score goals. He doesn't create, he doesn't hold up play all that well and he's not a threat as a free kick taker. But Villa had all of those things. They didn't have anyone that was capable of finishing, and Bent absolutely is. The transfer fee was likely an overpay, but not absurdly so (especially given what we've seen towards the end of the window) and he filled an absolutely massive need. He's a big addition and I'm thrilled to have him here.

You'll likely finish middle-of-the-table....would you be satisfied with that?

Given the circumstances surrounding the club after O'Neill left and the fact that a relegation battle seemed like a very real possibility just two weeks ago? Absolutely.

Playing off the last question: What is Aston Villa’s floor and ceiling for the year?

Realistically I don't see any way this club is in any real danger of going down, not given their remaining schedule and the additions they've made. I'd say 15th or so is easily possible as a floor, especially given how tight the middle of the table is. As far as a ceiling, though it's a long shot I think that a push for the top seven and the possibility of European competition isn't out of the question. But in all likelihood, the top ten seems like as high as they'll go.

If you could choose one, would it be an Aston Martin or a Spanish Villa?

Spanish Villa. Without hesitation.

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