Aston Villa - We Got Through - O'Neill's Verdict
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We Got Through - O'Neill's Verdict

The first paragraph on the official site includes the quote: 'We could have played better but what matters is that we're through.'

I suppose really O'Neill could've added, fringe players impressed and nobody got injured to that quote.

But if you saw him on C5 (the TV channel who will now go down in history as not knowing their Stiliyan Petrov's from their Craig Gardner's - that's me being polite, if their commentator thought Petrov was Osbourne or Salifou then he's seriously over the limit) O'Neill was happy and content tonight.

Our instructions were, rightly or wrongly, don't over stretch, don't tire out and don't do much that counts as stupid.

We got in return quite a boring game, with very little enthusiasm or commitment. Then again, we had won before we kicked off, and in those instances the so called 'bigger clubs' play a raft of juniors. We didn't, we kept to fringe players and players who need match fitness.

The crowd obviously didn't appreciate it with the pointless booing and to be honest that was childish in my opinion.

I know people paid good money, even though prices were reduced but you have to ask yourself, what was expected from the VP crowd tonight?

We got to see fringe players, and the likes of Gardner, Routledge and Delfouneso show they are worthy of more inclusion.

Tonight was about learning and fitness.

It's a shame we didn't kill it off completely and convincingly in the first 45 BUT at least we faired over two legs better than the likes of Liverpool or Man City.

That's what needs to be remembered, not that, as thought, this leg would be a training match.

O'Neill agrees with me, and again this is a case of one instruction to the players and slightly opposite comments for PR purposes to the media.

'Overall what matters is that we've got through. I was hoping that perhaps we'd play better, pick up the tempo and be a wee bit stronger. It was pretty comfortable but the second-half sort of faded into nothing.

'I'm delighted to be in the hat for the first round. I know we were expected to win as the Premier League side but if you'd said to me before the Icelandic game that we'd go through, I would have been very pleased.

'I was delighted with the goals that we scored over there and perhaps that maybe took a little bit of edge off tonight.

'I thought Salifou was excellent tonight. He was very, very composed and he played some fantastic balls - especially out to Wayne on the right-hand side of the field.

'Overall I thought he was excellent and if I'd been calling a man-of-the-match it would have been him.

'Wayne Routledge had little spells. He had the beating of his man and perhaps he can do that type of thing a bit more often.

'But overall I would have wanted us to play much, much better, considering the crowd that turned up in great numbers tonight for a tie that was effectively over.'

And that's the crux isn't it. We did tonight everything O'Neill wanted. Fringe players performed well, two were shining lights in Gardner and Routledge. Routledge more so for me, because Craig did fade in the second half.

O'Neill got from tonight what he wanted, and people's opinions would be different if Friedel hadn't have made his one season cockup. You can also count on two hands the chances that if they'd have gone in (baring in mind we put very little effort into the match) would've returned a cricket score not only tonight but also in aggregate.

The only truth in MON's media 'play much, much better' and substitute it for 'score 2-3 more goals'.

We were unlucky in front of the net, everything else went according to plan.

And for that reason tonight was a good night.

We progressed......that is what's important.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 28 2008

Time: 11:15PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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I believe the draw is 13:00 tomorrow, it will not always be this easy.
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28/08/2008 23:20:00

yeah, we got through comfortably, thats the main thing. Routledge and Gardner weer our best 2 players out there, both showed some hunger and some good play, others were a little disappointing. Job done, move along, and bring on the next!
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28/08/2008 23:22:00

Col, it's 12pm from what I've heard. 1300 Europe time? I don't care I'll be asleep, I'll get the missus to check lol
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28/08/2008 23:29:00

The biggest disappointment for me were the £2.50 tray of uncooked chips at half time. Oh and the fact that we had so few shots on target.
Adam Deuce
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28/08/2008 23:40:00

Good bunch of lads tonight, thought Routledge played quite well as did Osbourne. Harewood was kak
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29/08/2008 00:01:00

Thought Routledge and Gardner impressed. Would love to see Routledge getting 20 minutes at the end of a game (maybe against the scallys this weekend depending on how things are going). He looks pretty lively to me. Harewood was indeed kak. That boy needs a partner and is no good as a lone striker.
Bobby Norman
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29/08/2008 00:10:00

Some good teams in the draw, could get tricky for you guys as you're unseeded although there are enough part time postmen left for you not to lose any sleep over
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29/08/2008 00:37:00

Phartman - pretty sure we are seeded. Could be wrong.
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29/08/2008 00:44:00

I though Salifou looked good tonight, as well as Routledge. Harewood should be replaced as soon as possible, he seems to have forgooten everything he learned in the second half of last season.
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29/08/2008 01:11:00

Job done! Well done! Think we may have found our right winger even if we dont get Milner. I thought Routledge was excelent. Gardener too, very good, and as MON said, Salifou put in a good performance. Delfounso looked good as well. He improves with ever apprearence!
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29/08/2008 05:51:00

The main thing with Routledge is that he hasn't played regular football week-in-week-out for a couple of seasons, but still looks like he could do the business. Just imagine how good he could be if his confidence really gets sky-high. I think we have a potential ashley young on the right wing if MON grooms him well. I really think he could do well!
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29/08/2008 07:35:00

Pointless booing? I must have missed that. There were a few occasions when the fans were jokingly shouting 'SHOOOT!", I guess that could be mistaken for booing.
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29/08/2008 07:56:00

If I was MON I'd play 4-3-3 against liverpoo with Gardner, Okey Cokey and Petrov across the middle. I don't think Gardner should be dropped because he showed how good he can be last night in my opinion. And we need a goal scoring midfielder right now.
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29/08/2008 07:58:00

I noticed a few inbreds were in last night,Booing like idiots when the ball was passed back not grasping the idea of an aggregate scoreline and the fact we wre 5-2 up and getting to a big game on sunday with no injuries or tiredness.Anyway job done.
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29/08/2008 08:13:00

So do we have one more 2 legged game then the group stage?? THE DRAW BETTER BE KIND TO US!
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29/08/2008 09:25:00

Routledge looked like full of potential. He's got it in him to be a real high qulaity player. I was impressed with his workrate and attitude. If he carrys on like that, Milner can stay up North.
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29/08/2008 09:38:00

Group 5: Seeded Unseeded FC Schalke 04 (GER) PFC Litex Lovech (BUL) RC Deportivo La Coruña (ESP) Vitória FC (POR) SC Heerenveen (NED) SK Brann (NOR) FK Austria Wien (AUT) KKS Lech Poznań (POL) Aston Villa FC (ENG) APOEL FC (CYP) So we're off to either Portugal, Poland, Norway, Cyprus or Bulgaria.... I'll guess for SK Brann and a trip to Big Johns home land!
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29/08/2008 09:40:00

ive said it before the season starts that routledge was gonna have the same impact as ashley young, and im sticking to that. but if Milner is being brought in, den i think wayne is gonna be on the bench than. be a supersub for the last 20 mins or so. anyway, not a great match. and yes, the booing at the end was pointless.
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29/08/2008 09:44:00

Routledge was show pony no end product. I can't fathom why we bought him if he's not gonna get any proper games
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29/08/2008 12:55:00

I remember fans booing against Helsingborg a few years ago because we were only 1 - 0 up. The players then got restless because they started to try and force the pace because of fan pressure. Result? Helsingborg equalised and we were knocked out of Europe. I still feel the fans contributed to our downfall on that and many occasions since. We are to quick too criticise and too slow to show our appreciation imho. European Football is about patience and reaching the next round. Nothing else. Some muppets though do not have the intelligence to understand that. So not wanting to sit on the fence, if you booed last night you are a disgrace and an embarrassment to the club.
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29/08/2008 13:29:00

This might be a bit controversial, but the problem with cheap ticket matches is that it doesn't always attract the TRUE Villa fans and you tend to get a lot of people through the doors who don't have too much of a clue and watch the majority of Villa games on their sofa or in the pub. For example, a cleared pi$$ed up Villa fan decided to have a pop at me at half time for NOT singing (I soon shut him up when I told him I'd be singing this Sunday when Liverpool came to town and he realised that he wouldn't be at the ground!). Taking a slightly different approach to the majority of the posts, yes the job was done before a ball was kicked but it was a good chance last night for some of the fringe players to impress and not enough did for me. Gardner played well because he's Villa through and through, I thought that Salifou and Routledge were superb but I honestly can't say much more than that. Harewood had a chance to give O'Neill a selection headache last night but didn't turn up at all and I now fear an injury to Big John or Gabby if he's the only forward option left. Disappointing really as the fans had taken him to heart and based on last night's no-show, he'll probably end up losing a fair few of them.
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29/08/2008 14:29:00

Impressive result/performance over the two legs. I enjoyed last night. Good to see some squad players out there playing their part. Some impressive performances, and it indicated to me that Martin is getting a pretty useful squad at his disposal.
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29/08/2008 19:56:00

Routledge was good, he always is whenever I've seen him. Bags of talent, its the final ball all the time that lets him down. Until he masters the art of making that telling pass/cross, he'll struggle to break into Martins starting eleven.
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29/08/2008 19:58:00


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