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O'Neill orders Villa response

16 Aug 2009 17:32:59

O'Neill orders Villa response

Martin O'Neill has told his Aston Villa players they must quickly put their opening-day defeat by Wigan behind them. Villa were expected to get off to a winning start at home to Wigan but were second best in a convincing 2-0 win for the visitors. O'Neill pointed to the loss of midfield talisman Gareth Barry to Manchester City and the retirement of defensive leader Martin Laursen as factors in Villa's sluggish start. They also had to adjust to the introduction of new signings Habib Beye and Fabian Delph. But O'Neill has demanded a positive response and has urged his charges to draw on the character they showed last season, when they were in contention for a Champions League berth before fading late on. "Gareth Barry didn't don a shirt here for the first time for 10 or 11 years, and there is no Laursen," said the Villa boss. "This is a new team, we've got to get ready. "Certainly from this performance, we've got a lot to do. We were poor, and the fans would be disappointed with our performance. "We played well enough last season to overcome a lot of obstacles on our way to finishing sixth, and that's what we intend to do again." That secured a place in this season's Europa League, in which Villa have a play-off first leg away to Rapid Vienna on Thursday. With a European campaign to contend with, O'Neill believes the Villa squad needs greater strength in depth but is determined to stick to his transfer policy. "We're going to try to get some extra players in if we can, and in our own way," he added. "It's a lengthy season, and I'm going to have to try to look after the players."


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