At Sunderland - the game to kick-start 2016 for Aston Villa

The thing is, a lot of people think we are down already. I’m close to accepting it as something that is going to happen but as you all know, I like my charts and I’m a fan of form, so I still think there is a chance.

The thing is, if we can’t beat Sunderland, we deserve to go down. And I’m contradicting myself here, because we could still hit form and there are enough games, but having lost to Norwich - this is the match, at the start of 2016, that we need to win and show some fight and passion.

If we don’t, I might just accept we’re gone and doing that at the start of the year is a shocking place to be. And hearing all these stories that Garde will not quit if we’re relegated - no he won’t - he’ll get the sack, in the nicest possible way, because we need a manager that knows the league and has experience of getting clubs out of it. Not someone with three years previous experience. Sorry Mr Garde.

All that written, Paul Merson thinks we can win today. And you know what so do I. But we could be playing Barcelona today and I’d easily find something to hold on to that would give me belief that we could win. I’m just that type of person. But before we get to the match, I have a question; has Tom Fox gone yet or is that a false narrative?

I’m sorry, I can’t leave the Garde story. Again, in the nicest possible way, he was the wrong choice. The only way he can keep his job next season with us is if he keeps us up. And if he keeps us up I’ll get his name tattooed on my body somewhere. I’m sorry, but he should have come in at the end of last season and that is why he can only keep his job if he keeps us up. If the thinks the Premier League is tough the Championship will tear him a new one.

At Sunderland

So the news today is that we’re without Jordan Ayew, Ashley Westwood, Carlos Sanchez and Gabby. Many don’t like Sanchez, but for me played in the right position he’s a great player. As for Gabby, I’ve never really thought he was that great, but he’s the type of player that I’d love to see on the wing with a little space in front of him.

Missing Ayew is the big loss - he’s the only one scoring for us and more to the point, he’s the only one running for everything. But we can’t rely on one player and that’s why we need to see something today from the rest of the team.

This is the match that will define our 2016. Are they up for it? We’ll know today and we’ll learn if the players think we are down too.

Team news and updates

It’s all coming about an hour before kick-off but not having this headline seems a little like not a match post. But I’ve got to end this post on Garde and I have to publicly apologise to him in advance because it’s not him. It’s the people above him that have caused this and I mean no disrespect by saying he ha to go at the end of the season if we go down.

It’s just that whatever happens, changes are coming and he can only really stay and prove himself if we stay in the Premier League. But he’s a smart man and I’m sure he knows this. Onwards and …