Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday February 9 2007
Aston Villa chairman and owner Randy Lerner says he will do everything he can to make sure Martin O'Neill never wants to leave Villa.
His comments appear to be prompted by the fact England could once again be looking for a new manager in the not too distant future - having turned Martin O'Neill down once (happily for us) - and he admits he wouldn't stand in O'Neill's way if the call came but that he wants to make it so good at Villa that he won't want to depart.
Lerner said: 'I could not think of better fortune than working with Martin O'Neill and I think that you never get in anyone's way. Martin and I talked this morning. He called and asked if I was okay. I said 'yeah'. He asked if I had any questions. I said 'yeah, just one'. Basically, in answer to my question (about his future) he said that he is managing Aston Villa for the long haul. He said that we have got a job to do and we are going to see it through.'
'Did England make a mistake in not appointing Martin O'Neill? I am not qualified to answer that question. But I have to rely on my relationship with Martin. I don't think, in Martin's way of thinking, that contracts are terribly important. I think he is going to be where he feels is right for him. The way to keep Martin O'Neill is to be respectful, to support him, and to let him do his thing - and he will do it.'
Adding if England did approach: 'I would acknowledge, I wouldn't be able to do anything about it. Perhaps jump on him and put my arms around him. I don't think, when you're talking about Martin O'Neill and these celebrated jobs, it should involve me. I just want to create a compelling opportunity at Villa, otherwise I would create obstacles, which would not be good business.'
'I want to create an environment where Martin O'Neill would never want to leave Aston Villa.'
'He wants to win the Premier League and the European Cup. He has done it before as a player with a great manager (Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest) and wants to do the same as a manager.'
Date:Friday February 9 2007
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