O'Neill's half-time 'hairdryer' inspired Villa to Burnley blitz, admits Downing

22 February 2010 11:50
Two-goal Stewart Downing revealed a half-time rollicking from Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill sparked their second half revival against visiting Burnley.   [LNB]Villa looked out of sorts during the opening 45 minutes and needed a fortuitous goal from Ashley Young to cancel out Steven Fletcher's opener.   [LNB]But O'Neill's 'kick up the backside' worked wonders and Villa responded with four goals in 13 minutes from Downing (two), Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor in running out 5-2 winners.  [LNB] Sharpshooter: Stewart Downing (left) scores against Burnley[LNB] It kept Villa on course for a Champions League spot via a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League as they put their recent goalscoring problems - just three in the previous seven league games - behind them.   [LNB]Downing said: 'The manager wasn't very happy at half-time. It took a gee-up from him and a few other players to get us going because it wasn't acceptable really.   [LNB]'It worked wonders because in the second half we looked a different team and played some great football.   [LNB]'The manager is a great man motivator and half-time was the perfect example with a kick up the backside.   [LNB]Confidence boost: Goal-scorer Downing (left) celebrates with Villa team-mate Gabriel Agbonlahor[LNB]'He demanded more of us as players and there are some big characters in the dressing room and a few things were said and it worked.  [LNB] 'It was a slow game for a long time and once we got the second goal, it gave us a bit of confidence and we played some great stuff in a 15-minute spell and killed the game off.'[LNB]Downing missed the first half of the season after his £12million move from Middlesbrough in the summer after breaking his foot in April, in a challenge with Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov.  [LNB] But he has quickly made a big impression with O'Neill. He said: 'I think Stewart has done wonderfully well for us. He's had no pre-season, he came straight into the side from injury and has been excellent.  [LNB] 'He did some wonderful things in the game against Burnley. I think he is just getting really properly fit. Sometimes the crowd get a bit anxious when he goes 10 yards and then checks back.   [LNB]'But the first goal he stuck in brilliantly and you can immediately see a lift of confidence - and his second goal came because the confidence was up.'[LNB]Burnley remain in the bottom three after their second-half collapse left them with only one point on their travels this season.   [LNB] Big impression: Downing slides in his first goal against Burnley[LNB]Manager Brian Laws admitted: 'We did not regroup well after their equaliser and the second goal was a killer. It was very sloppy.   [LNB]'That led to a crazy 12-13 minutes that lost us the game and you can't rectify anything after that.   [LNB]'But we will get a result away from home this season. We will break this barrier.'[LNB] Villa 5 Burnley 2: High fives as O'Neill's English battalion grab all the gloryMartin O'Neill is the new Brian Clough, insists Burnley boss Brian LawsTHE LIST: Top 50 English players who should be on Fabio Capello's radarASTON VILLA FC

Source: Daily_Mail