I know the West Brom game is the biggest one in the eyes of Wolves fans, but every time we play Villa home and away the atmosphere always has that little bit of extra noise to it.
Especially when you go to Villa Park, it’s hostile, but you always find the Wolves fans are in excellent voice there. You can hear them out-singing the Villa fans and that makes it a great experience as a player.
The international break has probably come at the wrong time for Wolves, who are going into the game in good form, off the back of the Southampton and Newcastle wins.
When they return they won’t have too much time to work on tactics for this Villa game, and it’ll be interesting which way it goes.
It will be interesting to see how Bruno Lage sets up for this one, because the easy thing to do is to get a little carried away with the occasion. You’re that desperate to do well that you use up a bit more energy emotionally and charge around the pitch a bit more than you usually would do.
That comes with a derby game and it’s what the fans want to see, but the way Bruno Lage sets up his teams is very methodical.
He’ll be trying to take the emotion out of the game for players and it might help that there’s a lot of lads from abroad. who don’t know as much about the rivalry and history.
It might help that they can play as normal, and you’ll also have the British lads there that know how much it means to the fans and will try to get that across, while also not letting it overtake how they want to play the game.
Villa have more British players and staff, so they’ll be trying to turn it more into a proper English derby day, so Wolves will have to weather that storm early on.
But once it settles down, I think Wolves have far more quality going forward.
I always found on derby days that I was, perhaps, over-eager to get on the front foot and stamp my authority on the game as early as possible.
At times, when it doesn’t quite go your way, you can end up feeling very tired after 15 or 20 minutes.
My memories of playing against Villa is a really mixed bag.
The 1-1 draw at Villa Park under Walter Zenga springs to mind. We were on a decent run and although it didn’t work out for him as Wolves manager, there was a really good feeling at the club and he brought a great energy to the dressing room.
He loved the football club and loved Wolverhampton. He absolutely gave his all. We were on a good run going into that game and we went there and played really well.
We went 1-0 down but Helder Costa scored a penalty to equalise and we were disappointed not to get the win.
That was my first appearance at Villa Park, having gone a long time not playing there through injuries and different things. It was a nice one to tick off for me.
In the same season we beat them 1-0 at home – Joe Mason scored.
There was a brilliant atmosphere that day and I still remember it as I still have the scar from when Mile Jedinak elbowed me and split my eye open!
I went in, got it stitched up and carried on, but then came off with 10 minutes to go as I was seeing two footballs. I was all over the place.
The one that was both positive and negative for me was playing them at home in 2012 in the Premier League.
It was a huge game for us. I scored in front of the South Bank to put us 2-1 up, and then Karl Henry got sent off for a stamp.
The wheels then fell off and Robbie Keane scored two brilliant goals and we lost 3-2.
It was a big defeat at the time.
The atmosphere was incredible and scoring in a derby game like that was amazing for me, but it was just unfortunate that it ended up like it did.
But the Wolves and Villa teams now are both much better, so it’s certainly a game to look forward to.