No Gain Without Spain
Villa boss Martin O'Neill hopes the training camp break in Spain last week will help set the team up for a final push UP the Premiership table.
He said: 'I'll know more over the next eleven games. It was beneficial in the sense that we had very little pre-season in terms of proper preparation, and so this was a bit of an update. I'm not saying that we worked through every single detail, or anything like that but it was good. It was good for the players to get together and at this time of year it was excellent. But the proof will be in the pudding- it is whether you win the games or not.'
'Bolton Wanderers took a break recently and were 3-0 down in 20 minutes at Tottenham, so who is to say? But I genuinely think it was good. It gave us a chance to work on a few things, and the great thing about it is... if the weather is half decent, if you are stop-starting sessions then you don't mind hanging around a little bit.'
'If it is a cold blustery day then the last thing players want is to be stop-starting games and have no rhythm attached to it. The overall picture is that it was worthwhile and I will be saying that regardless of then next couple of results.'
He also says fitness coach Jim Hendry was able to work on the squad:
'I think Jim is very, very good at his job. I think he is excellent and he has a good rapport with the players which is obviously important. We didn't go there are do things absolutely differently to what we were doing here on the training ground. But if the weather is half-decent you can stand and explain things without players having to rush to put a tracksuit top on because of the cold. If there is a wee bit of sun around, everyone feels a wee bit better- simple as that.'
'I think that the bonding thing gets overused. At the end of the day the players, whether we had gone out there or not, have a responsibility here in terms of trying to win some football games and in trying to improve our position in the league, simple as that. I don't think that heading away for four days changes that view but it might sharpen the focus, as it were. That's the idea.'