Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday March 16 2007
Martin O'Neill says there could still be a future at Villa Park for 33-year-old former Czech Republic international midfielder Patrik Berger.
The former Liverpool and Portsmouth players' contract runs out at the end of the season but O'Neill says there might be an option of extending the playmakers stay.
'Will Berger be given a new contract? I wouldn't rule anything out. I have an open mind. I never once said that Patrik Berger's career was finished here. I will say when Patrik decided not to play in the reserves, took the fine instead, went off to Stoke, that I would have been hard-pressed to envisage him coming on in games - with everything forgiven - making the impression that he has.'
'I have been exceptionally pleased with him. That is a big turn-around for him. He has done that. At the end of it all, he is a good player. I did the same thing myself once when I was a player. I'd only played the previous 40-odd matches before then. I felt a bit irritated and the manager was irritated with me and he fined me accordingly.'
'The difference was that Patrik hadn't been in the team but he has been a really fine footballer. He is staying fit now. He has stayed fit for three months, which is his longest time here at Villa, and maybe even when he was at Portsmouth. Patrik can influence things. He has been a class player. I would certainly have forgiven him for everything if he had been 26 - and not 51! I am also not so sure that Patrik wants to go to America.'
He would certainly have a great deal he could pass on to the younger players surely? If only he had been ours when he was in his pomp, he was superb for Liverpool and only injuries have held him back from being one of the very best in the Premiership. As we look to build a squad, surely it would make sense to keep him another year and allow him to come on and give tired defenders something extra to think about late on in games?
Date:Friday March 16 2007
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