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Martin O'Neill: I could quit. Aston Villa boss in shock threat to Randy Lerner and fans

02 Apr 2010 09:53:19

Martin O'Neill: I could quit. Aston Villa boss in shock threat to Randy Lerner and fans

O'Neill: Four years in charge Martin O'Neill will consider quitting Aston Villa this summer after making an emotional defence of his record at Villa Park. Amid an increasingly fraught relationship with fans and allegations of strained relations with owner Randy Lerner, the Villa manager said he would discuss his position with the American once the season is over. O'Neill is still smarting from what he described as a 'capitulation' at Stamford Bridge, and the 7-1 mauling has opened sores that have been festering for some time. Speaking yesterday, at times with controlled anger, O'Neill left nobody in any doubt of his seriousness. He said: 'I will be talking to the chairman at the end of the season to see where we are positioned. 'People make judgments and calls and I will see if the Villa fans are disgruntled with it. I will then see if the chairman, who has a big say in proceedings, agrees. Interestingly, I will have a say in proceedings because it's my life.' Suffering: Aston Villa are battling to stay in the race for fourth The former Celtic boss is unhappy with the lack of credit from fans for restoring the fortunes of a club marking time during the latter years of Doug Ellis's reign. He also defended his record in the transfer market, saying he has protected Lerner's £80million investment since the American bought the club from Ellis in 2006. O'Neill pointed to an appearance in the Carling Cup final and a return trip to Wembley next Saturday for an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea as indicators of his progress. Villa started the Premier League season strongly but are now outsiders in the race for the fourth Champions League spot. O'Neill said: 'There are people with a big say. I include Villa fans, the chairman and myself in that. If this season has turned out pretty well, great. If it hasn't, I will sit and assess things then with my employer, the chairman. 'What the chairman said to me on Tuesday was that we are in the throes of a successful season and that a setback like Chelsea should not deter us from fighting back. But he was only telling me what I already knew.' Woe: Villa lost 7-1 at Stamford Bridge O'Neill's relationship with fans has become fraught. Theyhave questioned team selection,  particularly using centre half CarlosCuellar at right back instead of Luke Young and preferring EmileHeskey, who has scored five league goals in 15 months, ahead of JohnCarew, the club's leading scorer with 15. There have been rumours of a rift with Lerner over funds for transfers. O'Neill has refused to confirm or deny those stories. Villa'sboss said: 'I must stand up for myself somewhere along the way. By thetime August comes around, I'll have been here four years. I've invested£80m. That equates to £20m (a year) at the end of it all. 'If thechairman so desires which he has not intimated to me that the clubchoose to sell four or five players, and we all know who they are, thenhe would get a return on his money. With interest. I think all of thathas been forgotten. 'Four years ago we were a disaffected clubwho had sold 12,000 season tickets. The team were close to relegation.I know the chairman is very pleased with the players here who are majoracquisitions for the club. 'We have reached the Carling Cup finaland the FA Cup semi-final. I have the utmost regard for some managerswho have been here before, but in recent times I'd say I'd be a breathof fresh air looking at this club. 'We are heading for thebiggest turnover in the club's history. The major issues aretelevision revenue, winning competitions, keeping going, bonuses forreaching Wembley, extra television revenue. If I'm responsible forresults then I'm also responsible for that as well.' Uncertainty: Martin O'Neill could decide to leave Villa Park O'Neill said he had been able to place the stinging defeat in west London into context. 'Isaid at the time it was the most disappointing day of my life,' hesaid. 'Then I started to consider it in the context of the season. Thenwhen I thought, 'Disappointments?' Christ, it doesn't come close tolosing the Uefa Cup final at Celtic. 'As a player, not remotely close to being left out of the first European Cup final with Nottingham Forest. 'Beingbeaten so badly last week was how I felt at the time. We capitulated.Naturally we are going to try and put it right because we have so muchto play for.'  O'Neill refuses to commit his long-term future to Aston Villa amid quit fearsDead-beat Aston Villa are too tired for top four trip to the sunVilla dismiss speculation manager O'Neill has quit as 'pure nonsense'ASTON VILLA FC


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