Date: 9th May 2008 at 2:03pm
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Martin O’Neill has gently reminded the players that unless we win this weekend, all their hard work over the last 10 months will have been for nothing.

Villa need to secure all 3 points against Wet Spam to guarantee European football next season, whether via automatic qualification if Newcastle do us a favour, or via the Intertwobob Cup.

There’s no doubt this has been a fantastic season for the club, but O’Neill will be somewhat miffed if we fail to finish the job now.

Speaking on the official site, he said:

‘In many ways our whole season could be judged on what happens on Sunday. But that’s the same for a lot of teams.

‘Let’s say either Manchester United or Chelsea win both the Premier League and Champions League – does that mean it’s been a poor season then for the other team?

‘I tend not to agree with that all or nothing approach. In the final analysis I think qualifying for Europe, either automatically or through a shortened Intertoto, would be fine.’

O’Neill thinks that the build up to Wet Spam has been something akin to a Cup Final, and he believes the players need to treat it as such and go all out, especially after blowing it against Wigan.

‘I suppose you could say it’s something of a Cup Final. We would certainly have had a complete Cup Final feel about it had we got the result against Wigan – it’s disappointing that it’s not in our hands.

‘However we know that anything is possible on Sunday. Everton could get nervous, Blackburn Rovers will now feel as if they’re in with a real shout and they’ve got a tough game at Birmingham City.

‘Portsmouth are also still looking to end the League season well. Just a week before the FA Cup Final they’ll want to win the last League game.

‘There’s loads to play for and it’s intriguing in that we can still qualify automatically for Europe by finishing fifth – which would be phenomenal – or if the results go against us and we don’t play well again we could drop out altogether.

‘It would have been fantastic to have gone into this game knowing that almost everything was in our hands and that the only thing we could be done on was goal difference, as long as we won.

‘But it’s not like that. We have to win the game and if we do so the worst we can do is finish in sixth. That’s Europe and that’s a terrific achievement.

‘I shouldn’t have to worry too much about what’s happening elsewhere. Of course it would be great if results could go our way, but we have got to look after our own game.’