Date: 16th February 2008 at 5:32pm
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GT seems full of praise for Randy Lerner and Martin O’Neill and he believes when you add the Academy into the mix, the future is definitely Claret and Blue.

In the first of the two articles our former (two time) manager believes that Randy Lerner’s biggest success to date is in allowing Martin O’Neill to just do the job his way and without any interference.

‘What Martin has got is complete control of the football side and the new Bodymoor Heath training ground is his domain. You don’t always find that at clubs so Martin’s got a good base to work from there.

‘You have to have that as a manager, whether it’s Ferguson or Wenger – you need to be allowed to manage. I think Randy and Martin share the same ambitions and thoughts about Aston Villa.’

Speaking about our progress as a whole since the arrival of O’Neill Taylor has warned about fans becoming too carried away and suddenly expecting the club to be a top 4 team before our time.

‘If they keep playing well and end up in fourth, then they’re going to take that. But it might be better for Villa’s players to cut their teeth in the UEFA Cup first.

‘Also, there’s a danger of raising expectations too high. But you’re looking at the fans being disappointed that Villa aren’t fourth in the Premier League!

‘That shows you how far Martin’s come but this still has to be done gradually, not overnight.’

Taylor also makes a very valid point over many discussions we have on these forums when it comes to criticising players, their form and so on.

‘Fans now know how much players earn and they won’t accept anything less than 100 per cent.’

We have to remember to temper that view, yes ‘you pays your money’ but nothing is ever black and white – certainly not least in football.

In the second article, GT continues in the same vain of praise, but this time it surrounds his view that our Academy is one of the best in the business.

It seems we have a never ending supply of players coming through our ranks who, for the most part, are capable of having good careers in the game, even if they don’t make it at Villa.

Taylor has however applauded the view of Martin O’Neill and the importance that he places on making the youth players feel part of the club and the importance he places on developing new talent.

This is particularly evident in the fact O’Neill flew back from our training camp to see our Young Lions in the FA Youth Cup game against Carlisle.

‘I think that Villa’s academy is one of the best in the country, certainly in the top three.

‘I have a lot of time for Bryan Jones, who runs it and there’s a link-up with coaches Gordon Cowans, Tony McAndrew and Kevin MacDonald. In turn, that runs hand in hand with the first team and Martin O’Neill.

‘Now this is something I put in place when I return for my second spell as manager at Villa. I think it’s vitally important young players can see a way through from the academy, the youth team, the reserves, right the way into the first team.

‘It showed how vital I thought it was that there was a connection between the youngsters and the first team manager. It’s also good for supporters to identify with a young player if he’s home-grown.’

To further point, Taylor added:

‘You only have to look at Agbonlahor, Craig Gardner and Isaiah Osbourne. And don’t forget that’s how Gareth Barry came through.

‘I’d also point to players like Darius Vassell, Liam Ridgewell and Rob Edwards who aren’t playing for Villa but have moved on to other club’s first teams. The academy can be proud.’

Taylor also believes that the expectation of the game, especially in the January transfer window can overshadow in some ways the work that is being done at Youth Team level.

‘The pressure is always on managers to make new signings, but if supporters could only wait a year, they might find that there’s another Agbonlahor about to come in and make an impact.

‘You might look at a player when he’s 18 and decide he’s not ready for the first team, but he could be by the time he’s 19 when he’s developed.’