So, what is REALLY bugging Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill after quit hint?

02 April 2010 11:28
Martin O'Neill acted swiftly yesterdayto attemptto stem a growingtide suggesting hemight walk away from VillaPark in the summer.

But his hastily released statementposed a rather obvious question:just what is going on at AstonVilla?

O'Neill used a press conference onThursday to set out a defence ofhis record at Villa Park in the wakeof last Saturday's 7-1 drubbing at Chelsea. 

In the hot seat: O'Neill is feeling the pressure

Speaking openly and withemotion, he said he would sit downwith Randy Lerner at the end of theseason and weigh up whether theclub's American owner, the fans andhe himself felt comfortable with thedirection in which the club wasmoving.

Talking in the wake of an increasinglystrained relationship with elementsof the Villa support, he said:'I'll be talking to the chairman at theend of the season to see where weare positioned.

'People make judgmentsand calls and I will see if theVilla fans are disgruntled with it.

'Iwill then see if the chairman whohas a big say in proceedings agrees with that. Interestingly, Iwill have a say in proceedings, too,because it's my life.'

Within eight hours of hiscomments, and after the majorityof national newspapersreported his comments, O'Neillappeared to realise the enormityof his what he had said.

'Inlight of ongoing and perplexing reports, I would like to reiterate oneor two points,' read his preparedstatement.

American owner: Randy Lerner

'Since taking this job inAugust 2006, I have sat down anddiscussed the season in general withmy chairman, Randy Lerner, attemptingalso to formulate plans for howwe hope to keep improving the clubyear on year.

'This summer will be no different. Ihave a yearly rolling contract and Ihope to continue to do a job, thechallenges of which I enjoyimmensely.'

O'Neill is a formidably intelligentman, and has an enviable c.v. as one ofthe most impressive bosses in British football. He is also an ambitious andprincipled manager who might findhimself sitting opposite an owner inthe summer who has a differentnotion of what budget should bemade available.

Anyone who has studied Lerner'sownership of the Cleveland Browns,an American football franchise, willunderstand he is a strong and determinedman.Lerner demands respect because,after all, it's his ball.

O'Neill demandsit because he has rejuvenated Villa,raising expectation at the same time.Unanimity is never guaranteed infootball. O'Neill has much to look forward toas the season reaches its climax not least an FA Cup semi-final nextSaturday against Chelsea at Wembley.

But once the last ball is kicked,the talking and planning will start.Lerner departed for the States onMonday as miserable as every Villafan last weekend. This remarkableepisode will not have been lost onhim.

After rumours of rifts, sackings,managerial outbursts and the club'sworst result in 46 years, something isclearly amiss.

O'Neill's comments on Thursdayare perplexing, and pose two importantquestions.

How strong is hisrelationship with Lerner? And, howhas the American's commitment tothe club been affected by the worldwidecredit crunch? 

Embarrassing: Villa were thumped 7-1 by Chelsea last weekend

Following the maelstrom at StamfordBridge, one thing became clear:Villa have onfield problems. Thesummer will reveal whether they alsohave problems off the pitch.

John Terry handed O'Neill anotherhangover from that Chelsea defeatwhen he implied his side hadexpected Villa to fade in the finalthird of the match.

O'Neill dismissed Terry's wordsas 'idle comments' and hinted thatthey could return to haunt Chelseanext weekend. Ahead of today's tripto Bolton, O'Neill said: 'What he(Terry) said just doesn't stand up.

'That's the truth of the matter. In the later stages against Sunderlandwe were pressing and we scoredin the 83rd minute against Wolves.

'Itjust doesn't stack up. It's a prettyidle comment. It's the sort of commentyou can make when you havewon a game pretty convincingly.'

 Competition: Win Tottenham or Aston Villa FA Cup semi-final tickets - courtesy of National ExpressALL THE WEEKEND BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM NEWS I could quit Villa - O'Neill boss in shock threat to owner Lerner and supporters Bolton v ASTON VILLA: Nathan Delfouneso could start as striking trio struggle for fitness

 

Source: Daily_Mail