O'Neill hails Villa squad

24 May 2009 08:24
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill paid tribute to the efforts of his players as they ended the season with a 1-0 home win over Newcastle. Despite their victory the Midlands outfit were pipped to fifth place by Everton, but O'Neill had nothing but praise for his squad. Villa had threatened to claim a UEFA Champions League berth earlier in the season before a late slump in form saw them slide out of contention. Gareth Barry's shot deflected home off Damien Duff for the only goal of the game against the Magpies, who were relegated as a result of their defeat. Delighted O'Neill told the club's official website: "I am disappointed we finished with more points but didn't manage to achieve fifth place. But I am delighted with the team - absolutely delighted. "We have achieved 62 points and that's a great effort. Those points are hard to come by. It's been terrific. We haven't been out of the top six all season. That's a testament to the players. "We made changes in personnel during the summer time but it's been shown that we didn't have the size of squad to cope with February, March and parts of April, which is a crucial time in the season. We will have a look at that again. "But quality is a rare commodity. Having said that, we have some fantastic players and they were on show this afternoon. I couldn't be more pleased with them. Overall, I am delighted with the team." Stronger O'Neill felt his side were full value of the victory which condemned Newcastle to the Championship. He added: "They started very brightly and really took the game to us. They had a couple of chances and they didn't go in. "There was obvious disappointment with that on the opposite bench but we got stronger the longer the game went on. I just felt we deserved to win the game in the end."

Source: SKY_Sports