O'Neill dismisses security lapse

12 March 2009 06:07
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has assured Harry Redknapp security will be tight when he returns to Villa Park as Tottenham boss on Sunday. The two sides meet in the Premier League at the weekend but Redknapp is still haunted by a coin throwing incident at his last visit to the ground as Portsmouth boss. A 50 pence coin thrown from the crowd was aimed at Redknapp but hit referee's assistant Phil Sharp during the closing stages of that game last October. Sharp was left with a cut forehead and required treatment to continue. Aston Villa fan John Billington has since been found guilty and fine £2,300 by local magistrates and given a five-year football banning order after Villa and police conducted a joint inquiry into the incident. The incident still plays at the back of Redknapp's mind as Spurs travel to the Midlands but he has been reassured by O'Neill that his safety is intact. "Why should it be a worry? The gentleman who threw the coin at the assistant referee has been found guilty," said O'Neill. "I'm sure that the people around the dug-out area will be aware of it and I'm quite sure security will be strong." Redknapp had said after the goalless draw in October: "I don't get any aggro anywhere else. I've only had it here for some reason. "The coin was thrown at me. Why do they do that? What have I done? Whoever does that sort of thing is a coward and a moron." O'Neill accepts that there is no place for such behaviour in football, but was also keen to highlight the importance a home crowd can play in a team's performance. "The relationship between crowd and players in this vital run-in is of the utmost importance," said O'Neill. "Crowds can get agitated very quickly, although I don't think our crowd has had too much to be agitated about this season. "There will be twists and turns, ups and downs in games, and it's important the crowd stays with the team throughout everything. That's absolutely vital. It's so, so important." O'Neill has urged the Villa fans to get behind his side as their stuttering league form has endangered their chances of finishing in the Champions League positions. "I have said many times in the past that fans who pay their money have a right to voice their opinion but I think now, more than ever, it is essential we have a genuine team effort," he said. "This is about crowd and players teaming up together. We must work hard together to stay in that top four. "There is a dual responsibility, the crowd has to lift the players when things are not going so brilliantly and players have to lift the crowd too with their performances."

Source: SKY_Sports