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“Sunderland letting academy starlet Hourihane leave was a mistake!” says Villa fan James

In order to get the Villa view ahead of tonight’s game, Rory caught up with James from Aston Villa fansite 7500 To Holte. As well as discussing the match, Jamie fills us in on Villa’s new owners and whether or not Steve Bruce is bringing back positivity to Villa Park.

Villa v Sunderland x

RF: Last season was a mixed bag for Villa, with Roberto Di Matteo being dismissed and Steve Bruce coming in to steady the ship. But, things are looking ok now and you’re currently occupying a place in the play-offs. With that and new ownership, is the positivity returning to Villa Park?

JR: Yes, the positivity has returned to Villa Park, but there's also a somewhat cautious atmosphere around the ground. Under Bruce we are a bit more upbeat, yet I can't help but expect it to fall apart at some point. At least we can be a bit more optimistic now!

Birmingham City v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

RF: Apart from some excellent tweets I can't say I know a great deal about Tony Xia. Is he as mad as his Twitter feed suggests? What changes has he made at the club as well, since he bought out Randy Lerner?

JR: I think he acts up a bit on Twitter. He's genuinely a calm and kind person who seems to only want to do the right thing. That's also how the Lerner reign started, however.

In terms of changes, not a great deal has been done so far apart from a squad overhaul. I'm more excited to see what he does to the Aston area as he has spoken a lot about upgrading Villa Park and the surrounding complex.

RF: Former Sunderland youth product Conor Hourihane joined you back in January and seems to be doing pretty well. Does it look like we made a bit of a mistake letting him go and not trying to develop him further?

JR: These things happen. Everyone wants players to be gems at 18 and 17, but that's not the reality of the situation, is it? Hourihane has benefited from regular football and has developed into the midfield dynamo he is now. Letting him go was a mistake, for sure - but you can't predict the future.

Aston Villa v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

RF: The likes of Hourihane, Hutton and Elmohamady have the dreaded ex-player factor but who else should Sunderland fans be worried about going into the game? Who's in good form?

JR: Keinan Davis is someone who should be watched closely; he's honestly having some world class moments up front for us right now. He's smart and is genuinely gifted. What's more, Stevenage let him go from their academy. Davis is a very hard worker and has come from a humble background, so he's got hero written all over him.

Albert Adomah is another one to watch out for. There's nothing special about him except for his love of the game. He plays for fun and it is clear in his approach to it. He will experiment and do whatever he can to add to his rising goal tally.

RF: Aside from the potential new manager bounce, is there anyone worrying you in the Sunderland side?

JR: Mr Grabban seems to be a big threat, but this Sunderland side could easily adopt the spirit of the underdog, despite their size. I'd be worried about the whole team on the break and if we try and step on your throat tomorrow, we are going to have issues.

RF: How do you expect Steve Bruce to approach the game and who do you think he'll opt for in the starting line up?

JR: I hope we try to attack, but in a manner that respects the risks of doing so. Chris Coleman isn't a great manager, but he's a motivator and uses simple football to achieve results. If we push too much, he will do us. I want a measured approach.

As for the team? Check out our last team sheet. Bruce doesn't rotate. At all. John Terry will miss out due to injury, though.

RF: To finish off, can we have a score prediction please?

JR: I feel like it could be 2-1 to us.

I'd like a big win to be honest, but we have to respect the risk of a Sunderland team that is bound to bite back at some point this season.


You can check out 7500 To Holte on their website and follow them on Twitter.