Megson hails Villa achievement

24 April 2009 01:11
At the beginning of March, Martin O'Neill's side were lying in fourth spot in the table and six points clear of a stuttering Arsenal.

But they head to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday with their Champions League hopes in tatters after a miserable run of eight league matches without a victory.

Yet Megson believes Villa, a club rejuvenated since American Randy Lerner assumed control in 2006, should be applauded for threatening the status quo at the top of the table.

"To even get up there with a suggestion that they might finish in the top four is an achievement in itself, given the strength of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal," said Megson.

"I think Mr Lerner coming in has changed everything for Aston Villa and their financial resources.

"They've been able to spend but the money still needs to be spent in the right way and they've got some terrific players and a fantastic squad."

Bolton had Champions League ambitions themselves under Sam Allardyce not so long ago but they have spent the last two seasons fighting relegation.

Last year's battle was fraught but successful and though they are not yet safe, the Trotters look all but certain to extend their top-flight residence to a ninth successive year.

Megson admits the likes of United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are out of his side's reach.

He is more concerned with finishing above fellow strugglers Middlesbrough, Hull, Sunderland and Newcastle.

"There are three leagues within the Premier League," said Megson.

"The top four who qualify for the Champions League every year and the likes of Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham have spent a lot of money and have got the resources to go and do it again.

"There is the third group who just want to stay in the Premier League.

"To be perfectly frank we don't look at the top four and I don't think anyone looks at us as being able to break into that.

"All the teams that came up this year spent more money than us in the transfer market.

"They had to in order to give themselves an opportunity to survive.

"We are in a position whereby we are looking to do the best with the resources that we've got.

"Everybody is aware of that and everybody has to accept that.

"We've got some terrific players, we've got some players who I'm sure are the envy of other clubs.

"We've got to try and keep them and add to them - hopefully we can do that as a Premier League club in the summer.

"It makes life difficult but it's interesting. As you've seen with the games we've had in the past fortnight, including our 4-3 defeat at Chelsea, it shows what a great product the Premier League is."

Megson will assess the fitness of defenders Ricardo Gardner and Danny Shittu ahead of the visit of Villa.

Gardner limped out of last week's 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth after only 12 minutes with a hamstring injury and Shittu missed the trip to Fratton Park altogether with a calf strain.

Yet Megson is hopeful both men will be available, leaving midfield knee injury victims Mark Davies and Joey O'Brien as the Trotters' only absentees.

Aston Villa 6/4, Bolton 7/4, Draw 12/5  

Source: Team_Talk