UK time is: 11:03:36
Vital Login
Social Login

Choose your club

Other Sites

Network Navigation

Vital Partners

'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Villa Fan Defends O'Leary

In June 2003 David O' Leary, who had been out of work since leaving Leeds, became manager of Aston Villa. Villa had just had one of their worst premiership seasons ever, finishing 16th and only avoiding relegation by beating already-doomed Sunderland 1-0 at Villa Park in the second last game. Graham Taylor had subsequently resigned as manager, citing that the club needed a 'massive overhaul at all levels'. There was unrest among the players, and the future of the club was extremely uncertain.

David O'Leary took the job that many managers would basically 'not have touched with a barge pole', and all those not in possession of a barge pole generally kept their distance. There are many reasons for this, but most seem to point towards the man at the helm, Doug Ellis, whose stringent regime had more or less been the reason both Taylor, and his predecessor, John Gregory, resigned.

At his press conference, O'Leary stated 'We want to finish higher than 16th next season, and we certainly want to finish above Birmingham.' He understood the hurt pride that was being felt by most Villa fans at what was a low point and he vowed to put it right, saying that every player would start on an even footing.

In our squad at the time were, amongst others:

Juan Pablo Angel - Had been underused by Taylor, and had scored just one premiership goal under him, had never fully fired in his two and half years for Villa, and seemed likely to leave for Spain for 2m (7.5m less that what Villa had spent on him)

Peter Crouch - Had cost 5m but had misfired also, having gone an entire season without scoring.

Jlloyd Samuel - Product of the youth system, had won the left back position to be his own, but was not regarded as being capable enough to play at that level.

Ulises De La Cruz - Had a very poor first season, resulting in him being christened 'Useless' by his own fans.

O'Leary had not got much money to spend in the summer. He saw in the squad several key requirements. A goalkeeper (Enkelmann had lost the confidence of the fans and players), a defensive midfielder (Boateng was being sorely missed). In came Sorenson and McCann for a combined 4.5m

The season started poorly, but of note was the rejuvenation of Juan Pablo Angel, who seemed to be playing out of his skin for his new manager. Even while the results were going the wrong way, O'Leary insisted it would take time for the team to get into his way of playing. In the first derby in October Villa came away from St Andrews after a 0-0 draw, which although not a victory, was an improvement on last seasons capitulations. It was taking time, but slowly it looked like the team were uniting and gelling again. Then after a 4-0 reversal at Old Trafford, DOL slammed his team, saying they didn't play with any belief and it was unacceptable. Next weekend we beat Wolves 3-2 with Angel netting twice, and then midweek carling cup we beat highflying Chelsea 2-1 in a great game at Villa Park. Angel scored a wondergoal, before Cole equalised.. But Villa went on the search to take the lead again, and McCann got it. Do we all remember how great we were that night? How Angel tore apart a Chelsea defence with Terry, Gallas and co. Claudio Ranieri was gracious in defeat 'Angel was magnificent and Villa deserved it'.. O'Leary said he was 'proud of his team'..

The turning point had been reached.

DOL praised his players even if they weren't always firing. Vassell took a long time to score but DOL kept faith with him. When he did score against Fulham, he scored again 10 minutes later!! DOL spoke up the immense Angel, the emerging Whittingham , the rejuvenated Samuel, and the improving De La Cruz. Indeed it seemed some of the Villa players had gone into overdrive for the new boss. And there was nothing but praise coming from them. Angel said DOL was the best manager he had ever worked with.

The improvement continued. In the new year we were heading for top ten. We bought Solano for a SNIP at 1.5m. We were a force to be reckoned with again - with real belief. We were unlucky to lose 2-0 to arse at home coz of two dodgy decisions from Mark Halsey (I think) allowing a quick free kick from Henry and giving Kanu a nothing penalty.

There was real belief going into the derby vs Blues and for an hour we trounced them, and it could have been 8-0 when it was only 2-0. we all know what happened then..

But the belief didn't die, and we were up against star-studded Chelsea in the premiership. AND WITHOUT ANGEL.. our team was Sorenson, De La Cruz, Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel, Hendrie, McCann, Hitz, Barry, Vassell, Crouch. Luke Moore, Peter Whittingham and Dion Dublin were late subs. And we beat them 3-2. What a game and what a performance. Read that teamsheet again and ask how we did that??

In the end of that season we came 6th and we almost got to 4th.. And other year 6th would be enough for Europe. With the squad we had that was remarkable, because it was a worse squad than we have now.. players that we seem to slate regularly these days played huge parts - Samuel, De La Cruz, Angel, Whittingham, Ridgewell, even Crouch.

In the summer again we didn't have much money, and our major investment Martin Laursen was injured in the 3rd game of the new season and was out for the next seven months.

We finished 10th that year, which, considering what had gone before, was a disappointment. Inevitably a small squad that had performed excellently and stayed relatively injury free couldn't maintain this run..

Think on the injuries we had in DOLs first season. Apart from Delaney suffering a horror tackle from Bocanegra we stayed relatively injury free. think of the depth that was in the squad then.. a long term injury to Mellberg, McCann, Barry, angel, even Samuel or Johnsen would have been a disaster. We only had one left back, one right back (UDLC is a winger), and two centre backs (Mellberg and Johnsen) with Ridgwell emerging and striker Dublin having to drop back.. We were quite lucky with injuries back then, or by contrast we have been very unlucky in the last two years.

Since then we have had Laursen suffer two huge injuries, Barry missed a few months of last season, McCann missed 6 months, while Jlloyd Samuel played though an injury since we had no cover.

All that I have written is to remind us of what went before.. We might think on that double victory over Chelsea as being under someone else.. but it was DOL and us the villa fans that motivated those players to play so well.

This season has been a huge disappointment. But we have been unlucky. Its not an excuse, it's a fact.

CENTRE BACKS..

Guess how many different combinations we have had at centre back this year????

Mellberg+Laursen, Mellberg+Delaney, Mellberg+Ridgewell, Ridgewell+Delaney, Ridgewell+Hughes,Ridgewell+Cahill, SIX!! Are there any other clubs in the premiership that have had to do that?

RIGHT BACK:

Four players have played there so far.. Delaney, Hughes, De La Cruz, Samuel

LEFT BACK

Samuel, Bouma, Barry, and even Hughes have had to play there..

This has been caused by injuries to Mellberg, Laursen, Cahill, Delaney, Hughes, Bouma. That's SIX of our defenders that have had injuries that have lasted several weeks at least..

Our inconsistency in defence is matched by our inconsistency in attack.. all these combinations have STARTED for us.

FIVE combinations.

Angel/Phillips, Angel/Baros, Phillips/Baros, Phillips/Moore, Moore/Agbonlahor

And next, look to all our signings in the summer:

Phillips, Berger, Milner, Bakke, Taylor, Hughes, Baros, Bouma. Out of those players only Taylor and Bakke stayed fit till now. Hughes has had at least two injuries that have kept him in and out. Phillips likewise. Baros likewise. Bouma likewise. Milner now has a virus for a long time. Berger, well, we knew he wouldn't play every game, but even by his standards, his fitness this season has been very bad.. None of the new signings have yet had a consistent ten game run in the team. OUT OF 8 SIGNINGS. Even the most callous fan would have to agree its unfortunate.

And as for Bakke, we all slammed DOL for playing him, but gradually we began to see how valuable he could be. He got rightly stuck in vs Arsenal. and right now we are crying out for someone to that because McCann just doesn't cut it anymore it seems. Bakke, we got on loan for nothing, and we couldn't even afford to keep him for another 5 months! How pathetic is that???? DOL hasn't lashed out, but he is exercising admirable restraint. and that might be the source of a lot of our criticism?? WE would never have accused Gregory of 'not caring' but then Gregory said Ellis was in a timewarp and eventually lost his job. yeah, O Leary could say 'Ellis is a tight ***' but what would that do except get him fired? Maybe he is waiting for the takeover of which 'he knows nothing' to happen, and maybe he knows it will.

DAVID O'LEARY IS A GOOD MANAGER. He did brilliantly at Leeds, and he did well with us until this season.. People will say he spent millions at Leeds etc. But I remind you that after George Graham went to Spurs, DOL took over at Leeds, and took them on a run of TEN GAMES IN A ROW, before they had signed
anybody!!!! THAT IS GOOD MANAGEMENT! And look at the players that he had there, yes they were great players but are they now? Kewell, Viduka, Smith, Bowyer, Woodgate, Michael Bridges, Ian Harte. the list goes on. These were key players in a team that was challenging for the premiership, and reaching the champs league semi-finals.. Where are they now?? Kewell is at Liverpool being a shadow of what he was.. Viduka is scoring 10 a season at Boro when he used to get 30.. Smith has turned into a defensive midfielder (and not a very capable one at that despite his best efforts), Bowyer once Lampard-like shows only flashes of what he used to do amidst usual obscurity, Woodgate has been injured ever since, Bridges - I don't even know where he is now, but I do know he was joint top scorer in the premiership with 18 goals, and Harte is playing second division footy in Spain.. O Leary brought the best out of those players, and he did it for us too with Angel, Samuel, De La Cruz, even Crouch while he was here found his scoring touch again.. Admittedly these players may not have maintained the standards but they once hit them nonetheless and THIS WAS UNDER DAVID O'LEARY.

O'Leary has given youth a chance too. The players that have emerged might not all make it, but the ones that will are going to be of huge benefit, especially Davis.

Whittingham, Ridgewell, Luke Moore, Steven Davis, Craig Gardner, Gabby Agbonlahor, Gary Cahill, they have all emerged under O Leary. Yes, some of them wont make it to the top level.. but fore every one that wont I think there is one who will. Whittingham might not be a Premiership player, but he was given his chance, as was Davis, and Davis has been a shining light. Its about the risk, its about trial and error, but DOL has never been afraid to give them a chance..

David O Leary wants to do well for Villa. If he didn't he would never have taken a job that, as I mentioned earlier, many would not have touched with a barge-pole. if he didn't he would have called Ellis a dinosaur and quit like Gregory and Taylor both did. My point is, that his hands are tied in a lot of scenarios - by our lack of funding, by the injuries we had this season. amongst other things..

Despite the poor season, we have had performances this year. We beat Blues and Baggies in their own backyard, we were very impressive at home to Arsenal and to Chelsea.. There have been signs there that the passion is there, but there has not been a consistent teamsheet all season.

And while our young players have tried and given their best, I think its fair to say the senior players have let us down. Its not fair to leave them blameless, even if as some say 'they don't want to play for DOL'.. These players are pro's and they are paid A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY.. Mellberg, Angel, McCann (with a few exceptions), Phillips (lately), Djembax2 (the whole AFC thing) have let us down this season. Simple fact. People can argue that DOL should be motivating them, but what sort of players are so UNAMBITIOUS that they cant go out there and give 100%... MOST OF US DO IT FOR OUR SUNDAY TEAMS WITHOUT THE HEATED DRESSING ROOMS, WITHOUT THE HUGE SALARIES.. And we usually have to pay for the team bus!!! So if the players
aren't motivated they have got serious problems of their own..

Look at the facts. We were 16th the season before DOL came in. He put it right the following season. He can do it again. He hasn't walked away from what is a difficult club to manager in the current climate, and has been for some time.. If DOL goes, who comes in??? and what will it do for us?? People say Stuart Pearce etc etc. Pearce started well, but they have lost FIVE IN A ROW.Remember that fans of Newcastle and Chelsea wanted DOL too, after his first season with us. He did better with us than Pearce has done with City in the same timescale.

You can call his first season when he took us to the brink of champs lg qualification a fluke. or you can call this season an unfortunate blip. His record before villa suggests its a blip..

David O Leary was a winner as a player, he has always aspired to be a winner at managerial level too. He says he knows how to turn this club around. I FOR ONE BELIEVE HIM. Lets back him, and let him do just that.

By Now its Bersonal'




Use your social login to comment on front page articles. Login using you Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn accounts and have your say!


Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday April 10 2006

Time: 5:52PM

Your Comments

I have to say, its great to get a bit of balance in this, A very interesting article, not totally convinced but its better to have a well-rounded view of everything!!!
murph
I have to say, its great to get a bit of balance in this, A very interesting article, not totally convinced but its better to have a well-rounded view of everything!!!
murph
Some good points and as Murph says, I'm happy for the balance. I did ask the other day for some optimistic articles to be submitted, I would love to post more 'different' views! I'm not sure DOL can survive all the pr disasters, once the fans turn it is often very hard to win them back. Maybe 3 points v Small Heath would be a good way to start (and it would only be a very small start!).
The Fear
Some good points and as Murph says, I'm happy for the balance. I did ask the other day for some optimistic articles to be submitted, I would love to post more 'different' views! I'm not sure DOL can survive all the pr disasters, once the fans turn it is often very hard to win them back. Maybe 3 points v Small Heath would be a good way to start (and it would only be a very small start!).
The Fear
He has his fans, he has his critics. However, the way the team are playing at the moment means he has more critics. Very good article though.
Tierney
He has his fans, he has his critics. However, the way the team are playing at the moment means he has more critics. Very good article though.
Tierney
Excellent article, however the perceived lack of support from senior players, the media scenting blood and O'Learys appalling PR skills will lead to him leaving one way or another. I would be interested to hear how Leeds fans felt towards the end of his tenure.
fatloser
Excellent article, however the perceived lack of support from senior players, the media scenting blood and O'Learys appalling PR skills will lead to him leaving one way or another. I would be interested to hear how Leeds fans felt towards the end of his tenure.
fatloser
Well, a couple of small-ish errors in the article, but the statement "This season has been a huge disappointment. But we have been unlucky. Its not an excuse, it's a fact." does stand out. "Unlucky"? Well, I say you make your own luck. Have we forgotten about those cup performances over the last two seasons, already?! (and the other 'I'll fall-over, you kill me' performances?). A number of things *have* gone against O'Leary, but the sheer lack of commitment on a number of occasions wipes out anything that you might say in favour of DOL - in my opinion.
the_lergy
Well, a couple of small-ish errors in the article, but the statement "This season has been a huge disappointment. But we have been unlucky. Its not an excuse, it's a fact." does stand out. "Unlucky"? Well, I say you make your own luck. Have we forgotten about those cup performances over the last two seasons, already?! (and the other 'I'll fall-over, you kill me' performances?). A number of things *have* gone against O'Leary, but the sheer lack of commitment on a number of occasions wipes out anything that you might say in favour of DOL - in my opinion.
the_lergy
interesting article , from an outsiders view point dol seems to be a desent guy and a manager who gets the best from what he got. but must say i'm supprised he's lasted this long after the way you played at doncaster. will be interested to see if he stays, how you do next year
mvmiller
interesting article , from an outsiders view point dol seems to be a desent guy and a manager who gets the best from what he got. but must say i'm supprised he's lasted this long after the way you played at doncaster. will be interested to see if he stays, how you do next year
mvmiller
top article, and very well put.
millers4eva
top article, and very well put.
millers4eva
THE FEAR IS COOL!
soccerstef@hotmail.c
THE FEAR IS COOL!
soccerstef@hotmail.c
Last time I spoke to a Leeds fan he said they would all welcome DOL back but only to lynch him!
The Fear
Last time I spoke to a Leeds fan he said they would all welcome DOL back but only to lynch him!
The Fear
fatloser: where is the perception regarding lack of support from senior players coming from?? In recent weeks, Sorensen, Phillips, McCann, Moore, Ridgewell and Hughes have all stated that they fully with OLeary. The only negative from a senior player came from Mellberg through John Gregory - a desperate man who cannot get another job in football and is trying anything he can to get back in somewhere....anywhere. I tend to believe that the "dressing room is like a graveyard" comment is another example of the press dragging up an old story. I'm fairly certain that this is a quote from the Graham Taylor season. Unfortunately, our pathetic press have a tendency to do this when they are looking to stir controversy. More unfortunately, us who buy these rags fall for it..
gmvillan
fatloser: where is the perception regarding lack of support from senior players coming from?? In recent weeks, Sorensen, Phillips, McCann, Moore, Ridgewell and Hughes have all stated that they fully with OLeary. The only negative from a senior player came from Mellberg through John Gregory - a desperate man who cannot get another job in football and is trying anything he can to get back in somewhere....anywhere. I tend to believe that the "dressing room is like a graveyard" comment is another example of the press dragging up an old story. I'm fairly certain that this is a quote from the Graham Taylor season. Unfortunately, our pathetic press have a tendency to do this when they are looking to stir controversy. More unfortunately, us who buy these rags fall for it..
gmvillan
what now for the villa???? new manager? but same old team turning garbage out week in week out, i use to love watching villa , not now sort it??
millers4eva
what now for the villa???? new manager? but same old team turning garbage out week in week out, i use to love watching villa , not now sort it??
millers4eva
Perception rules the world, as they say. And the perception is that DOL doesn't give a ***** about the fans and he's running around footy pitches giving it large to Deadly as though their best mates. DOL could make it better by issuing an apology to the fans, being honest about the players like Pearce has, instead of 'they're an honest bunch blah, blah'. And despite the excellent article there comes a time like any job, in or out of football, where you can get too close to the staff and can't see the wood for the trees. You loose persective and the ability to be objective. Yes, who are we going to get? But DOL has to go, his signings - Berson, the twins, Berger, the demise of Angel, not getting the best out of Crouch, Hendrie & Vassell. I fear for next season unless there's a takeover.
Gazvilla
Perception rules the world, as they say. And the perception is that DOL doesn't give a ***** about the fans and he's running around footy pitches giving it large to Deadly as though their best mates. DOL could make it better by issuing an apology to the fans, being honest about the players like Pearce has, instead of 'they're an honest bunch blah, blah'. And despite the excellent article there comes a time like any job, in or out of football, where you can get too close to the staff and can't see the wood for the trees. You loose persective and the ability to be objective. Yes, who are we going to get? But DOL has to go, his signings - Berson, the twins, Berger, the demise of Angel, not getting the best out of Crouch, Hendrie & Vassell. I fear for next season unless there's a takeover.
Gazvilla
New owners come in, Ellis shown the door, yes, give O'Leary another season. He's made mistakes, certainly via his petty bickering with supporters, but I still believe that he hasnt been fully backed by the board.
glensider
New owners come in, Ellis shown the door, yes, give O'Leary another season. He's made mistakes, certainly via his petty bickering with supporters, but I still believe that he hasnt been fully backed by the board.
glensider
Have many other premiership clubs have had to play with six players of 21 or less in the team and a struggling team for that matter? Nobody knows if these lads are good enough yet but we've had no choice but to play them. Does anybody really think DOL wanted this? Of course not, but Doug's financial brinksmanship ensured we would be at the mercy of fortune. No debts, no players and no hope, until there's no Doug.
Stevew
Have many other premiership clubs have had to play with six players of 21 or less in the team and a struggling team for that matter? Nobody knows if these lads are good enough yet but we've had no choice but to play them. Does anybody really think DOL wanted this? Of course not, but Doug's financial brinksmanship ensured we would be at the mercy of fortune. No debts, no players and no hope, until there's no Doug.
Stevew
and his point was ? the fact DOL has no idea what to say infront of the cameras except big up the opposition. Not to mention ridiculously crap signings, phillips, hughes, taylor, djemba djemba. The guy is not the one to take us forward at all. The fact he is praising Ridgewell and JLS in this article makes me laugh out loud ! These two are probably the worst examples of players who have made it into professional football that have EVER donned a Villa shirt. Yawwwwwwn........ next pidgeon please
crosswesleyanchapel
and his point was ? the fact DOL has no idea what to say infront of the cameras except big up the opposition. Not to mention ridiculously crap signings, phillips, hughes, taylor, djemba djemba. The guy is not the one to take us forward at all. The fact he is praising Ridgewell and JLS in this article makes me laugh out loud ! These two are probably the worst examples of players who have made it into professional football that have EVER donned a Villa shirt. Yawwwwwwn........ next pidgeon please
crosswesleyanchapel
Sorenson, De La Cruz, Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel, Hendrie, McCann, Hitz, Barry, Vassell, Crouch The Team that turned Chelsea over above, Out of these DOL sold Vas and Crouch on the cheap, Hitz left for free, Johnsen was released, fair enough he was too old, but look at the team and who out of the remaining players have done anything since then ? Only Barry has been consistent the rest have gone downhill and not just in the past few weeks but in the past 2 years.
Still-Ian
Sorenson, De La Cruz, Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel, Hendrie, McCann, Hitz, Barry, Vassell, Crouch The Team that turned Chelsea over above, Out of these DOL sold Vas and Crouch on the cheap, Hitz left for free, Johnsen was released, fair enough he was too old, but look at the team and who out of the remaining players have done anything since then ? Only Barry has been consistent the rest have gone downhill and not just in the past few weeks but in the past 2 years.
Still-Ian
I read half of it as I have better things to do but some good points raised. However, Jon, facts are facts, with the signings he bought in and with the players he has worked with for 2 seasons I do think he should of done better this season, it wasn't long ago that Ellis was talking champions league football lol - The world he lives in!
leelindsay
I read half of it as I have better things to do but some good points raised. However, Jon, facts are facts, with the signings he bought in and with the players he has worked with for 2 seasons I do think he should of done better this season, it wasn't long ago that Ellis was talking champions league football lol - The world he lives in!
leelindsay
Hey lee, don't shoot the messenger, I didn't write the article!!! lol I'd happily drive O'Leary to wherever he wants to go as long as it is nowhere near Villa Park!
The Fear
Hey lee, don't shoot the messenger, I didn't write the article!!! lol I'd happily drive O'Leary to wherever he wants to go as long as it is nowhere near Villa Park!
The Fear
So DOL can't pick players, who employed Turner, McNiell, Atkinson, Venglos, Taylor (Mark II), Little, Gregory, DOL and would've sacked Saunders!!! Point is, it really doesn't matter whether DOL stays or goes because the same process will just start again. Whoever gets the job, will either be the wrong candidate or won't get the necessary backing. Getting really boring now but until there's NO Doug there's NO hope and we're just p***ing in the wind if we think otherwise.
Stevew
So DOL can't pick players, who employed Turner, McNiell, Atkinson, Venglos, Taylor (Mark II), Little, Gregory, DOL and would've sacked Saunders!!! Point is, it really doesn't matter whether DOL stays or goes because the same process will just start again. Whoever gets the job, will either be the wrong candidate or won't get the necessary backing. Getting really boring now but until there's NO Doug there's NO hope and we're just p***ing in the wind if we think otherwise.
Stevew
 

Have Your Say

Log in...
with your social network     OR     with your Vital account

Recent Aston Villa Articles

Taxi for Tonev (Tuesday July 22 2014)

Full Squad For Texan Tour (Monday July 21 2014)

Boston 0-0 Villa U21s (Saturday July 19 2014)

Lambert Planning Tough Texas Tour (Saturday July 19 2014)

Roy Keane On Texan Tour Advantages (Saturday July 19 2014)

Hutton Still Seeking Talks (Friday July 18 2014)

Encouraging Signs For Lambert (Thursday July 17 2014)

Archived Aston Villa Articles

List All Vital Villa Articles
Have your say
Click here to suggest an article
Click here to suggest a poll

Vital Members League (view all)

1. The Fear 757
2. ClivetheVillan 487
3. Pride of Lions 365
4. kefkat 282
5. sirdennis 195
6. Green Tea 182
7. HeathfieldRoad1874 178
8. Clubpaver 161
9. Juan Mourep 152
10. gator 139

League Results (view all)

Latest Results

League Table (view table)

Team P W D L GD Pts
1. Arsenal 0 0 0 0 +0 0
2. Aston Villa 0 0 0 0 +0 0
3. Burnley 0 0 0 0 +0 0
4. Chelsea 0 0 0 0 +0 0
5. Crystal Palace 0 0 0 0 +0 0
6. Everton 0 0 0 0 +0 0
7. Hull City 0 0 0 0 +0 0

Breaking League News

Coleman concerns
Everton : 23/07/2014 11:00:00
Vorm amp; Davies Joins Spurs, Swans Wait on Sigurdsso
Swansea : 23/07/2014 10:50:00
Negredo Replacement Targeted
Man City : 23/07/2014 09:24:00
Youngster Exits And Youngsters Exit!
Man City : 23/07/2014 09:22:00
The Schneiderlin Conundrum!
Spurs : 23/07/2014 09:06:00

Current Site Poll (view all polls)

Alan Hutton?
Suggested By:  JP Fear
Should be used 59%
Move shouldn't have been blocked, get rid 34%
Not really bothered! 7%