Manchester United were made stronger after defeat to Aston Villa, says O'Neill

10 February 2010 01:37
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill believes Manchester United returned stronger after Villa ended one of the worst records in football by winning atOld Trafford for the first time in 26 years earlier this season.

He said: 'I'm sure they are (stronger for it). The manager has saidthat when they lose a game or two they fight back more strongly andthat has been pretty apparent in their league campaigns for some time.

'Sir Alex was very complimentary about our efforts at Old Trafford but Iwould think that would galvanise them so expect them to be at theirstrongest now.

'If you look over the last number of years and you look at not onlythe quality of the first team at your disposal and you look a wee bitdeeper than that, look at the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd, its notjust strength in depth but strength in quality.

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'You can be complimentary about a dark horse team. On our day we arevery dangerous, we are capable of winning anywhere and I don't thinkpeople would be incredibly surprised - maybe they were at Old Trafford.We are capable of doing it.

'But to be up there with those teams you have to win games when youare not playing well. Man Utd have done that consistently over 10years. Chelsea over the last six or seven years. They have thewerewithall to do that. Carlo Ancelotti saying they did not need toreplace Didier Drogba for the Africa Nations Cup - to have that strength indepth is very comforting. Those teams have been through it. so when SirAlex talks about things I think he knows were the genuine challengescome from.'

And the Irishman also believes Richard Dunne should be on the shortlist for player of the year, according to O'Neill.

Dunne, signed for £5m from Manchester City, has been aninstant replacement for Martin Laursen and has contributed hugely tothe Premier League's meanest defence.

On top of his game: Dunne (right)

O'Neill said: 'If the season was to end in two or three weeks, Dunnewould certainly be up there as a contender for player of the year. Hehas been immense for us. Playing against Tottenham last Saturday if Ineeded any recent proof.

'There were two or three great blocks, he read two or threesituations brilliantly, and he was playing against real qualityplayers. He is quiet off the pitch. But when he does say something heis worth listening to. For £5m he has been incredible value.'

And O'Neill also lamented missed chances during the past month have not yet caused a 'critical situation' at Villa Park.

Villa have collected just three goals in their past seven PremierLeague fixtures after failing to take significant advantage of theinconsistencies of their rivals in the race for that coveted fourthspot.

He said: 'It's the old adage, if you are not scoring goals you won't win football games.

'You might consider the quality of the opposition. Arsenal twice,Liverpool, West Ham - where I thought we were unlucky and should havewon that game - and tomorrow is one against a side that are ranked onlytwo points behind Chelsea. I wouldn't mind converting one or two of thechances we are creating. Sometimes the games hinge on those. But ithasn't become critical for us at the minute, because of the quality ofthe opposition.

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Source: Daily_Mail