Date: 3rd June 2009 at 8:39am
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Martin Laursen has retired. Gareth Barry has joined Manchester City.

How do you replace two of your best players? Who do you replace them with?

Martin O`Neill was loved by almost every fan for his first two years at Villa Park, after taking the side to 6th and promising big things, however after complaints of poor tactics, substitutions and transfer dealings from a growing number of fans, he finds himself in unknown territory. For many the doubts began after he kept the majority of first team at home ahead of a big UEFA Cup game in Moscow. His reason for this was so that the team could concentrate on maintaining their hold on a place in the top4. It backfired not only did the reserves get beaten that night but the side went on one of the worst runs of form in the club`s entire history.

Many have claimed that this summer was always going to be a defining moment in his Villa career. The fact is he is now entering what will be his 7th transfer window, he has continually used the excuse that his squad is too small to compete, while on the other hand he is quick to point out that the money is there and Randy Lerner is 100% behind him. So after 3 years at the helm approaching his 4th season in charge, I don`t actually think it is unfair to assume that he will be using the funds he claims are there to address the issues he claims hold his team back.

If it was going to be a big enough challenge in replacing Martin Laursen, then its just got a whole lot harder as he now has to also find a replacement for Gareth Barry.

I have heard suggestions that Steve Sidwell and Carlos Cuellar are seen as the men to replace the two key players, which I must admit would not shock me, it would disappoint me however and when you consider it cost the club around £40million last summer for us to again finish 6th it obvious that there needs to be huge investment for us to stand still again or even push on. So surely replacing arguably the best two players at the club is a must.

Some good news however since the season ended is that Player of the Year, Stiliyan Petrov has committed himself to the club by signing a new contract. Hopefully there will be plenty more things to be cheerful about in the coming weeks. But they do say bad news comes in 3s (Laursen retiring, Barry leaving, what next?) so brace yourselves…….

One thing I am sure of is that THIS summer will be the biggest in Martin O`Neill`s entire managerial career. Sign the right players and he could have many fans back on side, however if he fails to replace two of the clubs most important players then I think the fans may turn on him.

Over to you, Martin………


17 Replies to “Defining Summer For Martin O’Neill?”

  • totally agree huge summer for oneil lets hope he comes up with the goods up the villa

  • totally agree huge summer for oneil lets hope he comes up with the goods up the villa

  • I couldn’t agree more. Very good article. Mr O’Neill stands at a precipice right now. We hold our breaths and wait.

  • if sidwell and carlos are the replacements, how does that help the squad size which has been voiced by MON as a concern? i think he should replace Barry with a new player immediately. he has to show some real intent this summer and sooner rather than later. i’ve been spouting Steven Defour of Standard liege for a bit now and i still think he’s a gem, and MON supposedly ‘admires’ him. he is for sale for roughly what we got for Barry, and would compliment the hard working midfield we have. and he’s young. as for replacing Laursen, well, who knows? he was truly top-shelf. i just don’t want MON buying these dodgy bargains any more, its a waste.

  • i honestly dont think he is that big of a loss, yes he’s given us 12 years of good football but hes slow not the best tackler in the world and has a lack of flair, in my opinion we need a class player to replace him but sidwell will give his all in the center and might shock a few people and do better than barry

  • i agree astonian villan, i don’t think Barry is a great loss either. it might actually help make the other guys shine, including sidwell, who i rate.

  • Come on lads, Barry is not our focus anymore. We have a decent squad, few additions and we will be challenging again next season!

  • A balanced article but when you say you think the ‘fans may turn on him’, which fans are you refering to? In my seats in the Holte End noboby seems ready to turn on him. In the pubs I drink in nearly everybody is happy with the progress we have made over the last 3 years (although I think nearly everybody was disappointed with the last 3 months). Where I work, there is full support for M’ON. Yes he has challenges. But that is what he is paid handsomely for. Rooney left Bluescouse and Moyes bought in the likes Cahill, Baines, Jagielka, Lescott from the Championship. Yes M’ON has an important summer, but as always we judge at the end of next season how he has got on.

  • If MON wanting to gamble all on a top 4 finish, how come only Heskey arrived in the January window ? He must have thought that the squad plus Heskey minus injuries was good enough to stay in the top 4.

  • Football’s f**ed. Hate Chelsea – mercenary over rich and vile. Man Citeh are simply out trumping them and have inflated the market to such a degree I don’t think we’ll be able to compete even with Randys cash. Hughes is not Jose Morinho and has nowhere near the charisma to manage all the big names they wanna buy – look at Robiniho’s behaviour last year, pizzing off when he liked it and now he wants a free back to Brazil!?!?!?!?!? It more and more looks like our precious game is seen as a plaything/cashcow for rich investors who pretend they have a love for the game. As much as I love Villa, my overall patience for the game is running out. No integrity left in the playing staff – 99% are just wide boys making it rich, stuffing tier boots with £50 notes… MON has a near impossible job now, everyone of any class we want will be snatched from under our noses, and now Pompy have joined in the ‘cash game’… And Barry? go **** yrself… Wan£er.

  • Oh great, and Sturridge looks like going to Chelsea now… AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Yes it is he *****ed up not getting the squad in last summer even though he improved the first team.Even if we finish in the same place in the league there is massive room for improvement in every competition,We were pathetic in the cups and in europe.As for ranting abou city and chelsea throwing money around,Admit it we all would love villato that.As for fans turning on him well an awful lot of football fans need to grow up in my opinion.

  • We all knew Barry was going, so I’m glad the deal’s been wrapped up quickly and we’ve cashed in. So, farewell, Gareth, and thanks for 11 years. Personally, I think the Man Citeh galacticos project will go t**s up but at least you’ll have 100k a week to ease you through the pain. For us, this summer is a chance for Magic Mart to re-vamp a rather one-dimensional midfield. But, as usual, with O’Neill we’ve come to expect the unexpected, so look forward to a few surprises. We’re now entering year 4 of Randy’s five-year plan and overall I’ve liked what I’ve seen. Turnip Taylor was almost right when he said we need 5 quality signings to keep moving in the right direction. I think we need 5 plus replacements for Barry and Laursen and anyone else who is shown the door. I hope Mart hasn’t booked a lot of holiday ’cause it’s going to be a busy couple of months!

  • Also o`neill has had beefs with fans at most of the clubs he has managed it is nothing new to him.The relationship with villa fans is already tainted anyway after the booing,When he wins something with villa it will be feeling of having proved the fans wrong on his part.I don`t give a ***** though the guy is big money and is only at villa because he has it all his own way ,there are plenty of good managers out there who would come to villa if it all goes tits up for o`neill.

  • Come on lads, Barry is not our focus anymore. We have a decent squad, few additions and we will be challenging again next season!
    leelindsay…………weve won 2 in 14 games, lost our 2 best players who happened to be our skipper and vice skipper…do you really think we will get close enough to challenege again?

  • pongo – he`s on holiday as we speak, hopefully he`ll stay there and let someone else buy the players ?

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