Date: 13th August 2007 at 6:53pm
Written by:

Up until quite recently I was prepared to give Martin O’Neill at least a couple of seasons to prove himself at Villa. The man had a plan and it seemed childish to cut his legs off before seeing how that plan developed, but recent events have I believe have moved the goal posts. Direct comparisons with our nearest rivals are inevitable and none more so than with Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The Swede’s extraordinary spending spree since he became manager sort of makes O’Neill’s 5-yr plan seem a little idealistic to put it mildly. The speed of Eriksson’s transformation at City has been breathtaking – and this from a man who seemed to lack any imagination or audacity whilst in charge of England. This stands in direct contrast to Martin’s let us say, more leisurely, measured pace. In fact MON has shown all the urgency of a glacier. Both men have put their ass on the line this season for the opposite of reasons – one manager has spent a fortune, the other has refused to spend one. Martin O’Neill’s reluctance not to get involved in a bidding war is one thing, but his apparent reluctance to get involved in any sort of confrontation with another club frankly smacks of timidly.

Apparently Sven hadn’t even seen some of his signings play before they turned up in Manchester, on the face of it his recruitment-by-video policy looks suicidal – how does he expect them to play as a team so quickly? to acclimatise to the Premier League? to communicate with each other? Maybe he is playing the percentages, out of the nine or ten signings he’s made maybe he’ll get a couple of great players, three or four reasonable ones and this will be enough to make City into a decent side. From what we saw on Saturday against Wham he may well have more than a couple of great players, I didn’t see a single dud. It might all go pear-shaped for him as the season progresses (here’s hoping!) but imagine if it doesn’t.

Just imagine if Man City has a great season and finish above Villa next May. Eriksson will have effectively turned around a club and put together a whole new team in a matter of weeks. The consequences for MON will be clear. O’Neill’s precious 5-yr plan will be rendered meaningless if Eriksson can propel City into Europe this season. And if he achieves this at the expense of Aston Villa, well, this must surely mean Martin O’Neill’s resignation or sacking.

Of course we will be able to make comparisons with others such as Sam Alladyce (Newcastle) and Alan Curbishley (West Ham), both of whom have been in their jobs for shorter periods than Martin. No excuses now of time or money or opportunity. No excuses of any kind. Never before in his managerial career will MON have been subject to this kind of intense direct head-to-head competition. I’m afraid in my opinion he has already committed one sackable offence in going into the new season without an adequate defence – even if he buys a couple of players this week it takes time and preparation for defenders and goalkeeper to start working as an effective unit, by the time this happens it may already be too late, we’ll be chasing the pack and losing confidence (which according to MON we have lost already).

It’s certainly going to be an exciting and very revealing season. A make or break season for a number of managers – and sorry Mart, your 5-yr plan will count for nothing if Svennis kicks your butt – you only have nine months and the countdown has already started.

By Saurat


48 Replies to “O’Neill v Sven/Allardyce/Curbs”

  • Sorry, forgot to change the writer part, this was posted by Saurat in the forum. Makes for an interesting read I think!

  • It’s started – the “sack O’Neill” protestations. For Christ’s sake Martin please put an end to all this. After 25 years under Ellis I’d hoped for more harmony and the Club would have 99% of the fans onside. We’re all totally confused and I’m afraid you’re starting to lose us. You’re an educated man, surely you can understand the fans concerns. Please don’t let us down – be positive, think big and if necessary spend big – we’ll all be with you if you go for it!

  • This article is ridiculous.

    How can you judge what Sven has achieved after just one game? We played a Liverpool side who have spent millions of pounds adding to already an world class squad. A Liverpool side who were Champions League finalists last season. Man City played against a disjointed and disorganised West Ham still recovering from a relegation scrap and the Tevez saga. Yes Sven’s team were an improvement on Pearce’s shambles last year, but that isn’t exactly difficult.

    And after seeing the results of these two matches, the first game of the season, you have already started to slate O’Neill. I know he hasn’t spent as freely (or as recklessly) as Sven, but wait until the transfer window is closed and then judge both sides after 38 games. Wait and see how Geovanni and Elano fancy playing in the snow up at Boro and Sunderland in January after no Christmas break.

    I hope MON doesn’t read what some people say on these forums because I am embarrassed at how fickle some Villa fans can be.

  • Well said rooneyo. I know everyone is entiled to there opinion and all that, but shocking, just shocking article. I know, lets be done with it and sack him now. Its much better to be a club thats just sacks there managers willy nilly. Joke. Sauret, did you boo at half time on Saturday by any chance? You reackon Villa got a chance of winning the next world cup? You think Luke Moore is as good as Rooney?

  • el_rooneyo, I’m glad there’s still a bit of sense left on this website. 1 game. That’s all that’s been played, 1 game. Sunderland have beaten spurs, does that mean that spurs have no chance of europe, and sunderland are certs for a uefa spot? Does ManU’s draw mean that they’re a mid-table side all of a sudden?
    Everybody agrees that we need more players, but I for one am certain we don’t need more djembas and baros’s. Both were big names, both cost us a good few quid, and both of svens men mentioned above could turn out to be the same level, a level where we were, not where we want to be. I’d happily take only 2 more top class signings over 5 mediocre ones.

  • Confused is right. I think most of us WANT to like MON and support him but he is making it so difficult for that to happen.

  • PBAVFC -Sorry pal I’ll answer for Saurat. “did you boo at half time on Saturday by any chance? ‘ NO “You reackon Villa got a chance of winning the next world cup? Silly question. “You think Luke Moore is as good as Rooney? Again silly qyestion, of course he is, but Luke’s just a little “bit before his time”. But seriously, I studiously read over 90% of the posts on this site and if you seriously believe that Martin O’Neill has served the Club well during this transfer window, I can assure you that you are in a very, very small minority. I think most are very surprised how Martin has “dithered” when other managers seem to have been much more positive and bold. Nevertheless I accept we can’t all view the situation in the same way although I’m sure we all hope “he’ll come up trumps” and prove us doubters wrong. UP THE VILLA

  • Awful, yes he has made a few bad decisions – and gets paid alot to get it right but at lease give it until the end of Aug before passing judgement. If by the end of August we have a smaller squad than last year then we can pass judgement. If we are not careful we are going to add so much pressure on to MON that he will think is all this critism worth it? Fickle boys.
    After 1 game you are passing judgement that SGE has got it right, but remember how up in the air Westham were this closed season.
    I have given up about worrying who we are going to sign, getting behind Villa 100% is the only way to move forward.
    Then in 4 years time when we have 5/6 England Internationals in their mid-twenties and Man City are on the brink of bankruptcy/relegation, all will then become quite clear.

  • Let’s make no mistake. The only person who has brought any “pressure” on Martin O’Neill is Martin O’Neill.

  • Both the Man Citeh goals were individual goals (good goals at that) but as Sven has only seen these guys on video Curbs has probably never heard of them. As the season goes on opposition teams will know how to play against them and Svens new style.
    Also Curbs is not a good manager atall and would of (should of ) been relegated last season anyway. without Tevez they would be. MON wants to build a good team, team spirit, awareness, and togetherness. Agreed he should have got more faces in but he is under a lot of pressure.
    He has got a Billionaires cheque book and is not used to it after Wycombe, Leicester and even the Celtic budget was nothing to this.
    I am as impatient as anyone and we looked poor on Saturday.
    The midfield was all over the place, and we didn’t look like scoring until Young went out wide. We have to be patient though and start moaning after 5-6 games. For now get behind the team……..

  • it makes no difference that liverpool are “world class” there’s more than 1 thing upsetting fans, lack of activity in the transfer market is the major headache, you can hide behind the opposition “world class” remark has long as you like, we were poor on saturday, simple, it makes no difference who your playing, poor is poor, we keep harping on about transfers but the lack of them is worrying, why have we not been competitive in the market! it leaves us with an uneasy feeling, we can’t improve on last season unless we improve the squad I have to say signing carson was another mistake ‘why is he here’ we now have 3 good keepers, and not a great one amongst them, we only have 4 defenders! we also bought harewood who is not a natural goalscorer, when we already have a player in that mould (carew) a real goal poacher is what we need (owen, keane, a,cole) just to name a few, we also need a midfield general, ever great team as one, things need to be sorted and quick, and before the season started we were sold a completly different story to the one being played out last saturday, world class signings, christ I’ll be happy if we start bidding, someone needs to tell MON he’s not at Celtic anymore playing the likes of gretna and falkirk he’s playing world class teams and he needs to get busy or at the end of this season that’ll be another 2 yrs wasted in the life of a Villa fan.

  • How short our memories are. Back in the sad, mad, bad old days of HDE, I seem to recall everybody comparing our then manager (what was his name again?) with Stuart Pearce (among others). Everyone spent hours on this and every other forum telling us how brilliant Psycho was, and how he had transformed ManC in the short time he had after SuperKev. But where is Psycho now? Did ManC win the Premiership, or even a cup, and go on to European football? Did they hell. Isn’t this why we now have the IceMan back in England, because Psycho wasn’t as successful over a longer period as people assumed he would be. Why, oh, why won’t Villa fans give their own a chance, with full backing, for a decent period of time?

  • We have been bidding you can be sure of that, but the players want to join other teams – accep it

  • I’m always getting told by pals what a bunch of moaners Villa supporters are and have spent years defending with the “if you had Doug Ellis as Chairman…….etc” speech. What I’ve read on this site in recent weeks leaves me in no doubt, the moaners appear to be in the majority and it seems like avfc48 disease spreads faster than foot in the mouth. Oh, and forget the “we’re all entitled to an opinion” mularkey because most of this nonsense is based on one great big unrealitic expectation. That Randy and MON could reverse 20 years of decay in 12 months. They can’t. Get real guys, the best players don’t want us join, regardless of how much money we offer for them and to them. We all love the club but deal with the reality, Deadly made us irrelevant to the rest of the football world. Somebody is going to have be given the time to rebuild and it’s going take a lot longer than 12 months. One final thought, if Randy & MON hadn’t arrived when they did, do you really think we’ still be in the Premiership? They deserve a bit of respect and a little patience.

  • Villacross, I think MON could have done a hell of a lot better in the transfer window, I never once stated that. My annoyance is with the amount of negative, moaning Villa fans who are living in cloud cuckoo land. To be even talking about sacking MON, is just ridiculous.

  • Dont be fooled by one result from Man City and Sven or any other teams for that matter……..stick with it stop panicking and moaning MON, Randy and the General will sort it out…..Aston Villa are moving in the right direction…….Keep theFaith

  • I think we are having a bit of extremism on either side. I can understand both arguments to an extent but if I can talk of Saurats column (and please feel free to add comments to this) I would firstly say that Sven watching DVDs of the players has to be a crock of **** and I dont believe it for a second. He has a team of scouts, coaches and advisors accross Europe – he has also had ages off work and in a mainly PT job with England to watch world football. He knows what his signings are capable of and what they add to the team. The Villa connection here is that MON complains of over-priced players – he buys English – the managers who buy foreign say its due to over-priced Englishmen – its a common complaint. Therefore MON complaining of overpricing players is something we all know and he needs to balance the risk – is it worth spendign another 10% on an englishman who may settle quicker??!! Furthermore, the only players we are linked with are English based (bar one or two from FC Porto) therefore they will cost a little more!! This brings me to my main complaint with the transfer window so far for us – what have our scouts been doing?? Last I heard Storey-Moore was looking far and wide for players!!! Our only foreigner we got was a young American (obviously from US links at club). Where are these scouted gems??? I am sure Harewood would do a job for us but I would have been happier to see us buy a striker I had never heard of who MON has said has came highly recommended by his scouting team. At its simplisit – our opponents know what Harewood and Reo-Coker can do – do they know what Bianchi and De Ridder can do????

  • PBAVFC – In my opinion no true Villa fan enjoys having to criticiise either manager or players but at the end of the day fans will tell it how they see it and what we’ve seen this last few months we don’t like. We had a number of problems last season and in my opinion O’Neill achieved as much as any of us could have expected of him. It is possible that with a full squad from which to ring the changes, injuries or not, we may have got those few elusive points that might have put us well into the top-half of the table. Last year we got used to him talking to us “straight from the shoulder”, which was very refreshing whem compared to his predecessor. But before the season end he said time and time again that his main target was to build a bigger squad that could withstand the ravages of the Premiership and also to compete for European competition. The CEO, Richard Fitzgerald also categorically stated that Randy Lerner fully supported O’Neill’s ambitious plans and big name signings would be made. So in the cold light of day, where are we now with 17 days left? Eleven players gone and only two in; not a “big name” in sight. and a net spend of less than £5mill. Do you still think it is unreasonable for fans to express their concern? Or should we all wait for the inevitable to happen and have to endure another frustrating season which could easily have been avoided with a bolder, more positive and ambitious transfer activities.

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