• Read manager's official programme notes
  • Gabby: I'll be man on the spot
  • Rapid Vienna betting guide
  • Rocket man Stan hopes for more Euro delight
  • Cuellar eager for more prestige Europa ties
  • MacDonald: Inner hurt will drive Villa on in Europa decider
  • Picture gallery: Get in mood for latest European instalment
  • Agbonlahor: I'm ready for Rapid
  • Young looking to exorcise demons of Rapid deflation
  • Lichaj: Blockbuster performance will see us through in Europa epic
  • Blog: Villa Park European elation is simply the best
  • Laursen: Let's make it a night to remember - just like against Ajax

Read manager's official programme notes


To add to the matchday experience on www.avfc.co.uk, here are Kevin MacDonald's manager notes from his official matchday programme column for this evening's match against Rapid Vienna.

Good evening to everyone on what will hopefully be another memorable European night at Villa Park.

I was pleased with last Thursday's performance and result in the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium with a team which combined experience and youthful vigour. All of the players acquitted themselves admirably for this football club in what was a very hostile environment.

We started the game very well indeed, with Barry Bannan scoring his first senior goal. Rapid gained a little momentum after the opening 25 minutes and equalised, much to the joy of their very vociferous supporters.

We regained control of the game at the start of the second half although Rapid remained very dangerous in open play and especially from set-pieces.

Ultimately, I was happy to return to Birmingham with a 1-1 draw.

It was very important for us to score an away goal, though this does not necessarily give us any decisive advantage over Rapid Vienna at this stage of the tie.

Rapid are a very experienced side and we all know what happened when we played them at the same stage of the competition last year.

Having played Rapid only a week ago, we have set out our stall as to how we shall play them in tonight's return leg, remaining very mindful of how important it is for us at Villa to proceed to the group stages of the Europa League.

It is important for the football club, the development of the players and I realise how important European nights are to you, the supporters.

I hope that you will be as vociferous tonight in support for your team as you were for our first Barclays Premier League game of the season against West Ham.

The volume of positive noise that you generated was a great inspiration to the players on the pitch and we need to experience the same noise level again tonight.

This, allied to the players' performance, will hopefully lead to us winning the tie.

Finally, the arrival of Stephen Ireland has given everyone a great boost and he is a young lad who will complement the quality players already here.

I am sure that everyone in the ground tonight will wish him a successful career at Aston Villa Football Club.

To watch all of the gaffer's pre and post match interviews, subscribe to AVTV by clicking here.

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