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Selection Policy Is A Headache

Martin O'Neill has again used the 'prioritise' word ahead of our second leg clash against CSKA Moscow. Hard hat at the ready.

Speaking to Sky Sports O'Neill has admitted that he will have to think long and hard about which side to select for the Moscow tie because of us chasing a Top 4 finish this season.

O'Neill definitely sees the Champions League as the Holy Grail for Villa this season, and maybe we are closer to reaching that than he ever imagined but for a focus fans seem reasonably split.

'The irony of it all is that we spent all last year breaking our necks to get into the Uefa Cup. We started in July in the Intertoto just to get into it.

'Now we are in the final 32 and we are maybe having second or third looks at it.'

I'm not sure that's true myself. Some of the selections for the UEFA ties already have left things to be desired, same as the selections for the domestic Cup's since O'Neill arrived. So I'm not sure I follow that he's now taking second looks at it, he seems to have done so all along really.

Which, if the Champions League is the be all and end all this season, was the UEFA campaign simply to give our younger players European experience without ever intending to really make an effort to win the competition?

'I have to try and please Villa fans and I think they would look at that and think the Premier League, which can eventually drive you into the Champions League, is the Holy Grail.'

Maybe I'm selfish, but what's tiredness really when you're on 20-30+ a week? I know it's starting to have an effect on the squad now and legs will be becoming heavy when matches come as thick and fast as they have done last week for example but I don't see the Champions League as the Holy Grail worth sacrificing everything else for.

I think we should make a genuine attempt to win everything we are within a shot for. In fact I'd go as far as to say if he wants to play the second string, then it should be during league games and not Cup competitions. You only get 1 shot, maximum 2 shots in a Cup comp to secure a result. You've got 38 games to rectify mistakes in the league.

It may be the Holy Grail financially thesedays, but I'm traditional.

'It seems strange we are in that position. Had we been seventh, eighth, 10th in the league, it might have been a different outlook.

'Football has changed and chasing a top-four place in the Premier League, to get you into the Champions League, is everything.'

And therein lies the problems with todays 'beautiful game'. I'm just pleased that we are now trying to live in the real world of football whilst retaining as much tradition and history as we can.

The financial fan in me says blood the youngsters and those who need to work on their fitness in Moscow and secure Top 4.

The Villa fan in me says, don't rest a single sausage - at least give them 45 mins - and let's put the tie to bed and look forward to the next round.

If anyone is tired, they can avoid the bar and go straight to sleep after our comfortable win on a cold dark night in Moscow.

Ok, yeah well, I'll let them have a couple to celebrate first, I'm not that evil.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday February 23 2009

Time: 4:49PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
anything other than our strongest side would be madness, we are out of the domestic cups, surely winning is a habit and one that our players are getting quite good at in the league but experience shows that the second string just isn't good enough in the cups?
The Fear
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 17:08:00

Have put that as our latest poll, how seriously should he take it?
The Fear
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 17:10:00

I'd be tempted to rest a couple of them, petrov, heskey maybe Gabby, where we can replace with decent quality in Sidwell, Carew and Delfounso. If we don't make the Champions league this year we'll lose Barry, not only that we'll have the Top 4 plus Man City and possibly Spurs and Everton to contend with for Europe. This could be our best chance in a long time to make ourselves a real force in the Premier league, what good's a trophy in the cabinet if the squad is depleted and we struggle to compete next year. I'd love us to win the Uefa but not at the expense of Champions league next season!
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 17:28:00

"what's tiredness really when you're on 20-30+" - it's the same as tiredness when you're knackered after a day down the pits on 30 bob a week. If you are getting less rest than other players/squads, then you will be more tired, relative to them. Earning 40 million a week won't make a difference then. You can't buy energy ...
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 18:35:00

Plus, I totally agree with pjvilla. The CL is pretty much all-important to us in terms of mid- to long-term strategy. I've said before that I would LOVE Villa to win some silverware, but it HAS to be very much second best to top four.
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 18:37:00

i say rest a few also. keep em on the bench incase we need a late winner. would love to go through but its all about top4landness
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 18:51:00

i agree whole-heartedly with pjvillas thoughts. i realise this is immaterial, but my team on thursday would resemble this: freidel gardner, cuellar, knight, shorey milner, sidwell, barry (he said he is feeling fresh), young (?) carew, delfouneso also another thought i've had about petrov: i feel like he is our default best player when we don't play well, but when we do - he tends to get bypassed a little. anyone have any thoughts on that?
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 20:24:00

Here's a great quote from our favourite cheerful cockney, 'appy 'arry: "We've got to play Monday and Thursday and we've got a cup final on Sunday. It's ludicrous. It showed why I rested players. People should understand that is why I do my job and that is why they do their job." Managers are paid to look at the big picture and to evaluate where their main goals lie, while we fans have the luxury of wanting it all, however realistic (or not) that may be.
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 22:54:00

Go to win the lot, but putting a couple of eager players like the Fonz and Gardner in will increase our chances not weaken them. Friedel should play. He is too important to leave out - but left out he will be. MON has done great, Villa have done great - but Arsenal still likely to catch us and even if they don't, fans have to realise that 4th place will only give us a very tough Champions League qualifier against another "big" nation club e.g. Spain/ Italy - which with our pedigree is going to be less than a 50/50 chance. The future is that money and size will continue to talk and whatever happens this season, the Big 4 will most likely only be broken next season by Man City, not ourselves. When you look back, you look back on winning things, and the cups are our best chance to do just that. We need to be strong, not quite strong. Quite strong and we will be out. Lets go for a glory night please and Stoke can be taken care of after. One game at a time, with horses for courses an understandable way forward - providing you have lots of good horses to choose from. We don't. Quality fringe players maybe put a couple in. Players who have proved either they cannot do it or are totally off-form will be a liability (mentioning no names) - no thank you.
Report Abuse
23/02/2009 23:09:00

Disagree 100% with the article. PJVilla is spot on IMO - if we don't make CL this year i'd say our chances are going to get a lot slimmer next year. Can you really see Chelsea and Arsenal having such a poor, inconsistent season again next year? Not me. And what do you think Man City are going to do in the summer - spend spend spend and they'll be a major force next year. We have to put ourselves in a position to compete. It's now or never, and it's not the financial aspects that are driving this - it's the prestige. Top players only want to come to clubs that are competing at the highest level - and that's the CL. Until we get there, we are always going to struggle to attract the top top players. UEFA can wait.
Report Abuse
24/02/2009 01:20:00

I do realise fourth is the holy grail but it would be nice to win a cup.
chris the villan
Report Abuse
24/02/2009 08:59:00

Only the winners get remembered, and it's too long since we won anything. Whenever you talk to an opposition fan the scorn issue is "and when did your lot last win anything?" I would like to be able to say "2009, the UWFA Cup!" next year. So let's win that thing! UTV
Report Abuse
24/02/2009 13:55:00

Sorry mis-typed W for E in UEFA. Sillly mee!
Report Abuse
24/02/2009 13:57:00


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