Writer: Mike Field
Date:Monday March 10 2008
Martin O'Neill has said he hasn't given up hope of Villa gaining an automatic place to Europe this season.
Villa are currently 8 points behind the Blue and Red Scousers after their weekend matches but there are enough games left for us to catch up, and for them to slip up.
Speaking on the official site, it is clear that MON still sees the automatic places as an option and he isn't prepared for the club to even consider their chance this season is over.
'I've often said and it is worth repeating that I think Liverpool are very strong favourites. They have the strongest squad and I know they're still involved in the Champions League, but they have the squad to cope and I think that's been proved.
'Even David Moyes has acknowledged it. But everything is worth chasing. You might finish sixth this season and not qualify for Europe.
'And we're still in a position where we could finish anywhere between fourth and ninth or 10th. We're eight points off fifth place and that probably puts things into perspective. But I don't think you can worry yourselves too much.'
I think O'Neill's point mainly is for the squad to keep their bottle and belief more than anything. We've had too many hiccups this season, long before Fulham which remains in peoples minds, and maybe that will cost us in the end.
That can be excused possibly this early as league wise we have achieved far more than many believed posssible. What can't be excused really is a case of the jitters now and instead of chasing other teams to the wire, we bottle it and ruin our own chances.
'We have to try to win some of these matches. And that's what we're going out to do. The very fact the game was changed from Saturday to Wednesday, is out of our hands. All we can do is just go and try and win.
'If we're playing catch-up, we're playing catch-up. We'll have had a 10-day break since the Arsenal game, so we should be going into the game pretty fresh.
'Overall I've been very pleased with the squad, considering the amount of work they've put in - hence giving them those days off because it will be pretty hectic between now and the end of the season. But would I change things? It's always very possible.
'I think we've got work to do to stay in contention. Everton and Liverpool have gone eight points clear of us. We have only got a couple of points and one game respite on the sides behind us - but there's plenty to go for now.
'We've levelled up home and away matches for a start and have now got five home and five away matches. We have plenty to play for.'
Even if Europe is now out and the Scouser(s) don't slip up he is right their is plenty to play for. The highest league position possible for a start. Not only will that bring a nice financial reward into the club, it will improve our standing within the game further and after the seasons we've had previously I don't know a single fan who wouldn't be overjoyed with a 6/7th place finish considering the season many thought we would have.
Date:Monday March 10 2008
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