Aston Villa - Why Is O'Neill Still Learning?
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Why Is O'Neill Still Learning?

Martin O'Neill has reacted to the embarrassing home Carling Cup exit to Leicester City.

He told the official site 'It was desperately disappointing. This was a game we were hoping to win as we looked to progress in the competition. I'm very disappointed for the people who turned up to the game tonight.' (Only 25 956 of them)

Adding, 'I made a couple of changes, but that was not enough to disturb the flow or the pattern of the side - at least that's what I hoped. We should still have been good enough. But we should do better. We never got a proper tempo to the game in the first-half and I thought any second balls were picked up by Leicester.'

'This is a competition we wanted to do well in. I know I changed the side around a little bit and maybe I'll learn from that. This was a good opportunity for us and it turned out to be an opportunity spurned. We should do much better.'

I'm not quite sure why we have a manager still needing to learn? It might be controversial but doesn't a million quid a year bring experience and someone who knows exactly what he is doing?

He said to the press after the game, 'Sometimes in the past I've changed the side around, and it has cost me,' he said. 'Maybe people should just deserve to be in the side - or be in the side when someone gets injured. I still wanted some players to play. But I think you have to earn the right to be in the team - and that's a big lesson.'

And this bit mystifies me in truth, 'It reminds me of when I was at Celtic. We had beaten Liverpool on the Thursday in the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup. We went to Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup; I made nine or 10 changes - and we lost the game.' Adding, 'That sat uncomfortably with me for a long, long time - and this would be the same,' he said. 'I am disappointed - but we should still have been good enough to win it and we should still have the same desire. That's the disappointing aspect.'

Ok, this was a cup game, anything can and does often happen in the cup but that result is not good enough, this was our best chance of Europe this season, especially when you consider we don't have the squad big enough to realistically challenge for the top six in the Premiership this season. I bet the few real quality players we have are gutted that we are having yet another wasted season after so many promises in the summer? How long, for example, can we keep Gareth Barry happy. This is a player in his prime who wants to be competing at the top level with quality players - I don't think the likes of Stiliyan Petrov or Marlon Harewood qualify as that do they?

It also seemed totally obvious that we didn't have enough fire power in the team, so the inactivity on the transfer front was naive to say the least.

Must admit, I'm worried. You?

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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday September 27 2007

Time: 9:49AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
The lack of quality throughout the squad is there for all to see and your correct in saying how long can we keep Barry happy when he is looking to cement a spot in the england squad with sub par players around him. Its up to the rest to step up a gear or we're gonna have another transfer window expecting quality players to come in. But we're out the carpet cup and must look ahead to the next game. UTV
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27/09/2007 10:10:00

MON is not the tactician we may of thought. I love the guy, but in the right mind, what fan would of ever dared putting this formation together: -Osbourne to the Right? -Petrov in attacking Central when Maloney is on the Left? -Barry at left back when O'Halloran was raring to go? -Harewood playing ahead of Gabi?! WTF?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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27/09/2007 10:14:00

As my mate said last night, he does not want to see MON experimenting in a competition that would have seen us with our best chance of any realistic silverware - Could not agree more
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27/09/2007 10:15:00

He wanted to try something different and experiment against what was percieved as weaker opposition and give some of the fringe players their chance. Now he can say I won't try that again and the players that get dropped for the next match can't complain. He learnt something about them and what they can't do.
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27/09/2007 10:37:00

Superman, training is for experimenting, not a competitive match.
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27/09/2007 10:48:00

Maybe it worked well in training and he thought he would try it. The man is trying to get us to the next level which has been unchartered for a long time for him as a manager and us as a team. We won't achieve it by keep doing the same things, unfortunately we won't by playing like this either but he knows it now.
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27/09/2007 10:50:00

I agree, but i think the point being made was the fact that so many players were played out of natural positions and that the players brought in didn't perform. They didn't perform because of ability, form, confidence or quality? But having said that man utd got knocked out too, it happens all too often where the lower league teams have good days against the top teams in the cup. I just don't know if MON should have played such a radical change. At least it wasn't a quarter final.
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27/09/2007 10:54:00

I think if it was a quarter final we would have played what is acknowledged and now possibly proved is our strongest side. i think O'Neill wanted to say who was capable fo playing where in case we get lots of injuries and he got the wrong answer from the players he tried. I think it means we will sign someone in January and he has learnt that. I also think people would be asking why we didn't experiment if we had won comfortably (although obviously in hind sight I would have preferred that)
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27/09/2007 11:03:00

Yet again a massive over reaction by the villa faithful. Get a grip for gods sake.
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27/09/2007 11:05:00

i've been looking back at the comments made when O'Leary's side lost AWAY from home, times certainly have changed, in the fans forums, if not on the pitch. Its should be interesting to fans that a manager of such experience, of such alleged talent and ability, has openly admitted he's still not up to speed, even after a season back in the Premiership. It should make fans realise those who have queries about his choices and lack of transfer acumen, may not be just making negative points as they call it, but offering decent points of discussion. For a manager so successful and so confident of a long run in this competition, against a struggling side at the bottom of the Championship,last nights performance was a huge failure, one previous managers would have been slated. At least we know that the number of games the limited squad now needs to play has been reduced, even if the man in charge, is still learning what it is to manage in the 21st century. Such results happen whether the manager is called O'Neill, Taylor or O'Leary, hopefully the players will learn from it. Ultimately, the manager picks the side and when it contains all but 2 of your prize signings and performs that poorly, maybe,just maybe, a few more will see the facts behind the flim flam.
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27/09/2007 11:08:00

The minute a manager stops learning is the time I want him to leave the club. Yes the manager should be an expert but football is constantly evolving and the manager needs to evolve with the game.
Villain Of The North
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27/09/2007 11:13:00

We do not have a squad of superstars who can be rotated and win games. We all new that before last night so why was it done. Winning teams are unchanged teams always have been always will be. The squad is there to use when you have injuries or players who are underperforming, not to give the poor babies a rest. The big 4 may not take this competition seriously but for Villa this is a time to capitalise on that and push on and give ourselves a chance of silverware… not experimenting. As for Barry he must be wondering what is going on. He keeps saying he wants to win things at Villa, so what happens? He is played out of his best position and a winning team is completely changed then bang, another chance of him winning silverware is gone. How long will he stay when his chances of silverware are thrown away by poor team selection and inadequate signings?
Hoss The Villain
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27/09/2007 11:14:00

Man U lost with Anderson and Nani in their squad and they were pretty big name signings,is Fergie still learning?Sometimes you get knocked out of cups by lower league teams,why do people expect everything O Neill does to work perfectly.It was a strong line up he picked and that result says more about the likes of Petrov and Harewood than O Neill,he was right to pick them,they cocked up.
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27/09/2007 11:17:00

The blame for that totally inept and way below par performance lays at the feet of the collection of individuals who stepped out on to the pitch. Man for man they were surely good enough to see off a struggling Championship side on our home turf? Well as it turns out no they weren't, and what I find of concern is why current 'fringe' players, supposedly pushing for a place in the starting line up, cant get their act together and grasp an opportunity when its given to them. MON no doubt learned a lot about the character and ability of his squad members last night, some who I think proved that their Villa Park future is not as assured as they would have liked. We can return of course to the argument that we experienced a wasted summer in the transfer market, and that argument carries much validity, but even so, the players on show last night have to hold their hands up, as Curtis Davies has done, and admit they simply let themselves and the club down. It simply wasn't good enough.
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27/09/2007 11:18:00

I think i agree with avfc48 to a point. (which makes a pleasant change) All teams have a bad day at the office as well as good days, the thing is, i think MON is a good manager and just maybe a great one given time, He most certainly is the best we could hope for at this time in our history. Given the fact the club has been run down in the manner in which it has over the last few years. The thing is we are not going to attract the top players yet so we need to build a squad to do us a job, and that job is to progress steadily and maybe get a european slot. Then and only then can we attract top quality players. We unfortunatley live in the Mc Donalds fast food culture we want it and we want it now. That is the reason why there is a trillion pounds worth of debt in this country. So just take a step backwards and see the situation for what is worth its a defeat in the same when we beat Chelski it was just a win.
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27/09/2007 11:22:00

Id have wanted players like Petrov and Harewood to play last night and prove they should be back in the team.Could someone please suggest who they would prefer as manager if MoN is doing such a bad job?
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27/09/2007 11:27:00

I agree with glensider and lets hope the players realise they have blown their big chance at getting a regular first team berth and decide to work doubly hard until they are moved on for more quality.
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27/09/2007 11:31:00

I agree gappy65 were only in the second year of rebuilding,were 8th in the league with a game in hand.As more and more of our weaker players get exposed they will be replaced and we'll have a stonger squad.
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27/09/2007 11:32:00

Gappy a football fan just doesn't see results as black and white as that, just ask AVFC48 who wrote an article by the same title, he probably wouldn’t agree with you on that assessment. As a football fan the team we support is a love which you obviously don't share if you accept a loss like you accept a win. The euphoria of supporting your team is you have highs when you win and look for excuses when you lose. This isn’t a new thing that has suddenly happened it has always been the case. When a game finishes it turns into a debate with fellow fans as to why you won lost or drew and that is the joy of football. Unfortunately the stakes have been raised through the money generated in football and the only winners at the moment are the players, whose wages reflect nothing about their ability but the way the game is being commercialised. If flak can’t be thrown their way for poor performances then we should all give up and go home now. The players are enjoying the rich spoils of the game and have perched themselves in a position where they can expect criticism from the onlooking supporters. Love it or hate it that is the way it is.
Hoss The Villain
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27/09/2007 11:45:00

I'd point out to those blaming the players for an awful, some say embarrassing performance, that O'Neill chose All but Carew of his signings last night, and Gabby and Osborne two of his 'chosen', to play. Last night's team was made up of O'Neill's transfers in the majority and it performed poorly. Now I accept there were mitigating circumstances, Davies first game, several players playing out of position, but it makes me wonder
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27/09/2007 12:57:00

No one's denying that very fact '48, but if you're going to insist on laying blame at MON's door as opposed to questioning the players approach and attitude last night, then you're barking up the wrong tree. Do you not agree that it was only after our visitors got the go-ahead goal, that our lot got their act together, stepped up a gear, and actually put some effort in? What was served up for seventy-five minutes from players supposedly chomping at the bit to secure a premiership starting spot was totally unacceptable. No doubt theit attitude, and lack of passion and ability to break down a struggling Championship side, was an eye-opener to MON also.
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27/09/2007 13:52:00

glensider... don't bother arguing with avfc48. He wouldn't know how the players performed, only the result - he never goes to the villa in person.
The Usual Suspect
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27/09/2007 14:00:00

Bottom line, simple as, and what is clear cut - we have to achieve in the league. I'm still confident (barring major injuries - and hopefully Carew will be back after the next 2 league games) that we will improve on last seasons tally of 52pts and get some 60pts come the close of the season - enough to get us into Europe. AVFC48 - whoever wears the claret and blue jersey must earn it - the players coming into the fold didn't earn nothing last night... Yes, maybe MON got the team selection wrong; in my opinion he should have played the side that was present v. Everton when Carew went off)... but MON has earned our respect - why you choose not to get behind this man is beyond me! You always target our transfer dealings without seeming to grasp the "mechanics" of football transfers but fail to recognise that we ARE better than last season... P.S. Carson didnt play last night...
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27/09/2007 15:51:00

Still learning....yes, quite possibly. Learning that perhaps Maloney has the right stuff after all and deserves a start against Tottenham on Monday. Maybe discovered that some of our players do need a rest, maybe just not the ones we rested. Discovered just how reliant we have become on having a top class ball player in central midfield, and how we should never again look to play him at left back. Maybe discovered that Petrov has just sipped his last shot at the last chance saloon? All good lessons if they get taken on board and we don't make the same mistakes again next time.
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27/09/2007 16:14:00

No Fear I'm not worried. I am disappointed that you seem to have taken a turn for the depressing worst the last few articles. What's wrong? Things aren't that bad mate.
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27/09/2007 16:47:00

As for you AVFC48, we all know your gameplan so I don't even read your bits as i can always put any other article or comment you've ever written in its place and it'll be the same sniping of MON....blah blah blah. Perhaps when you next write an article it won't have an embarassing pre-cursor of "AVFC48 writes...don't have a go..." MAN U go out but you never hear their fans chirping on as some on here do...FFS get a grip.
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27/09/2007 16:51:00

As expected a straight from the shoulder, honest response. Like it or not, we always get an honest opinion. O'Neill has the reputation as an astute football psychologist, which makes the blunder even more remarkable. Many of those picked last night played in the knowledge they were 2nd best and if the competion had been higher profile wouldn't have started, So what sort of message does that signal? It demotivates many in our squad but conversely has the opposite effect on all the opposition players, telling them "you're not good enough to beat Aston Villa", And that's exactly what happened last night. If O'Neill is saying he picked players to keep them "happy", he was quite clearly wrong. He must always pick his best side and if for whatever reason he decides not to do so, expect to be embarassed. I'm concerned this misjudgement, together with the disappointing transfer window will strengthen the "O'Neill Out" calls. Personally, I feel we should now put it behind us, A 10 points from 6 games start is Top6 canditature. I still believe O'Neill is the best manager for us. He'll "bring home the bacon" - keep the faith!
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27/09/2007 17:11:00

No-one ever said this was a 1 or 2 season plan. It is a 5 year plan. Of course there will be disappointments on the way, to listen to some, you would think we have a right to win every game we play. We don't. Any idiot can be a critic. Sooner or later they are all right. Developing any venture is much harder - and deserves support not brickbats at every opportunity.
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27/09/2007 19:00:00

I'm very happy with our start to the season and long term last night changed nothing. However I'm still gutted that we're out of the cup and I have a right to say so. It doesn't make me an MON hater. Far from it.
Adam Deuce
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27/09/2007 20:35:00

Keep the winning team and the players who are in form is the only basic way. But this must be balanced in games like this with giving a couple of players who are unlucky to be left out and deserve a chance a game too. Step forward the likes of Maloney, Gardner and a debut for Davis - all fair enough. These players have done everything right, nothing wrong. Petrov needs to earn his place by similar good performances for the reserves for starters. A few changes too much for my liking. I hope Maloney starts on Monday.
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27/09/2007 21:21:00

I think that Maloney at least, looked the business last night, and fitness allowing, he should start at White Hart Lane on Monday. Scot Carson will be back in goal, while Laursen should return to central defence. Hopefully Freddie will be back, allowing GB to return to midfield.
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27/09/2007 21:29:00

Players such as our strikers needed more time to prove themselves and the same goes for a few others before MoN could splash out for players in those positions.Those players are now getting their chance and not taking it,MoN is not stupid and he will replace them if he feels they have had their chance,Ive noticed he's stopped picking Petrov,and going by what he said after the game their might be a few leaving VP come January.
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27/09/2007 21:43:00

Rather than face facts lets slag off the contributor, good game that. Fact remains a side made up mostly of Martin O'Neill transfers, lost at home to a poor lower division side. Whether they weren't committed, inexperienced, not happy with their latest hair job, matters not. If you praise O'Neill as God's son when we beat Chelsea, please have the decency to accept criticism, which by the way I haven't directly made when he admits he not only got it wrong but as The Manager, the Greatest hope for the club, the experienced top manager in Europe as some called him, is still learning. Its always good when what you have been sayingh for so long is confirmed by the man himself
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28/09/2007 12:23:00

P.r.a.t 48
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28/09/2007 20:38:00

Since when was MON downrated to God's son?
Hoss The Villain
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29/09/2007 07:32:00

Every person on earth is still learning, including Jose Morninho, Alex Ferguson etc etc etc.
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29/09/2007 11:45:00

avfc48 - blah blah blah - Of course MON's still learning. If you believe there isn't anything more to learn then you have an arrogant attidtude and you should just stop living. We all learnt something the other night. You can't just turn up and expect to win. The same effort ahs to be made for every game whether we play Chelsea or leicester. You obviously didn't attend the game so don't accuse the manager of ineptitude when quite clearly the players didn't have the right attitude. This is a lesson MON has learned about the so called professionalism of his fringe players.
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29/09/2007 23:03:00

Oh, yes. Almost forgot - BAD result, KNOB SQUAD present and correct
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29/09/2007 23:04:00


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