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O'Neill stands by Mellberg
12 Feb 2008 - 07:40:18
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has backed Juventus-bound Olof Mellberg to give his all for the club in the coming months.
Eyebrows were raised at the weekend when the 30-year-old Sweden stopper was replaced at half-time of the 4-1 victory over Newcastle United, but O'Neill insists that that was merely a tactical decision.
He commented: "Has there been a change in Olof since he signed for Juventus? Not at all. His attitude has been really good and the change on Saturday was all about trying to get a spark down the right-hand side.
"I just wanted a bit more creativity down that side. Olof has been brilliant for us, but he is essentially a centre-half and he is going to go to Juventus to play centre-half.
"I have been asking him to do things at right-back all season and he has done them uncomplainingly.
"Against Newcastle, we needed to get some momentum going down the right, so we switched Ashley Young over to that side and Craig Gardner came on at right-back.
"He is not as strong defensively as Olof, but the onus was on us to get back into the game.
"Taking Olof off was no slight on him. He's been brilliant. We will be disappointed to see him go in the summer.
"He is a top professional who wants to help us finish the season on a high note."