A warm welcome to Sir Bobby Robson and to all from Newcastle United. It's good to have such an early opportunity to meet up with the Magpies again because I felt that we deserved more than we achieved from our encounter last month.
It was a good game of football on a difficult St. James' Park pitch and we approached it in confident mood on the back of our six game unbeaten run. I would say that we dominated for long periods during the first half and also towards the latter stages but we caused our own problems in the end.
Firstly we gave away two silly goals from throw-ins when we went to sleep and allowed Newcastle to get in behind us. Then, despite good possession and approach work, we continually went for the wrong option at the crucial moment in our attacking play.
But that certainly was not the case in our last game here against Everton - particularly from Robbie Keane's point of view!
We had endured some poor publicity in the build up to that game, with our resolve and character coming into question from outside observers following our FA Cup defeat at Southampton. But we showed our true fighting spirit as we kept coming back against Everton and certainly put those doubts in perspective.
We never denied that we played badly at Southampton, sadly that's a fact. But we used all the many negatives in that performance to demand a better reaction from ourselves in our next game because our pride as professionals had been hammered.
Our spirit against Everton was there for all to see. Robbie, quite rightly, seized the headlines with his wonderful hat-trick but our all-round team effort was the real winner. It was hard work out there and we had to grind out the result but you don't win games like that unless you are all pulling in the same direction and that triumph was a tribute to our inner strength.
As with any game, it wasn't all about positives and we were obviously unhappy with the three goals conceded. I was also disappointed with the way some supporters responded to Steffen Iversen.
It's perfectly understandably that our crowd loves Robbie and they stick with him throughout, even when things go against him. I'd ask you to do the same for Steffen - who is a good player and will score goals for us - and all the players for that matter.
Steffen changed the game here when he went on against Charlton and he deserves better. It's only fair that, if we support the club, we support every player that goes out there in a white shirt. That is what it is all about. Get behind a player and he'll play 100 times better. Get on his back and he won't.
Your support in the second half of that game lifted us up through another couple of gears and made all the difference. In fact, that support here has been fantastic all season and we all appreciate it.
Going back to our defending, it was good to have Dean Richards back at Villa Park and the big man played a major part in another rugged win that gave us our first clean sheet since November.
We tried throughout to get the ball down and play but we also had to roll up our sleeves and show our defending as a unit because Villa are bright in attack and have options on the bench that can change the whole emphasis of their play.
But we weathered the storm against a side with an excellent home record with Deano and Ledley showing what an influential centre back pairing they can become. Teddy's winner illustrated his excellent technique and sets us up nicely for tonight's game.
When we played United at the turn of the year we had the chance to go fourth in the table but we blew it. Now we have another chance to enhance our European claims and it's a chance we've got to take.
I wish Stephen Clemence and Les Ferdinand all the very best. I hope that they are successful in the future, although not, I might add, against us!!
In closing, welcome to our new signing Kazuyuki Toda. He is an immensely impressive midfielder and we are delighted to have him on board. His addition to the squad will give us more options in this area and I'm sure the fans will quickly see the benefit of his strengths.