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Make Or Break Time For Martin O'Neill

Make Or Break Time For Martin O'Neill

Make or break time for Martin O'Neill

Another season done and dusted and a strange season in was in many respects. First half well exceeded my expectations, second half fell well short of them. Which pretty much sums up my divided view of Martin O'Neill - is he brilliant or is he an idiot? A brilliant idiot perhaps, like one of those autistic types that can't tie their shoelaces but can solve hugely complex mathematical problems in seconds. After over three years in charge I really don't know, I still find MON an enigma.

Two top-six finishes must say something, the man is obviously doing something right, but whatever it is seems handicapped, dragged down, by MON's weaknesses - his timidy and lack of imagination in the transfer market, his schoolboy tactics and his almost insane team selections.

Last season I think his blank refusal to drop Carson cost us fifth place, since January he has persisted with the ineptitude of Heskey and Gabby and refused to return to the 4-3-3 system that worked so well. Meanwhile Sidwell, Gardner and Fonz remained bit-players. Perhaps Albrighton could have made a similar impact as the young Lee Hendrie. We will never know. Again we lost out to Everton for fifth, an Everton who were in crisis last summer, Moyes stalling on contract talks and the chairman offering to sell the club to any passing Arab or Russian billionaire. An Everton, moreover, who were without a recognised striker for half the season.

As far as the media are concerned we have had another successful season, (or over-achievement, as some of the London press claim), all down to O'Neill's genius. As fans we can see things a little deeper but also we feel things a little sharper, it is easy to be over critical. I remain happy with the general direction of the club, we only have to look at the shambles at Newcastle and the continued under-achievement of Spurs to see things could be a whole lot worse.

For me, and I am sure for many of you, this summers transfer activity and the 2009-10 season will once and for all decide my opinion on Martin O'Neill and perhaps even define his career as a manager. He himself called our exit from Uefa 'a debacle' and I'm pleased he used those words because our lame surrender to CSKA must have hurt him as it did us. He has stated time and again the need to enhance the quality of the squad, so he knows as well as we do what needs to be done. Everton may have been in crisis last summer but they still managed to buy Fellaini for £15m which is considerably more than Aston Villa have ever spent on a single player. Spending big doesn't necessarily bring results (ask Spurs or Man City) but then neither does 'bargain' buys such as Emile Heskey.

There will be numerous threads about who we should buy, what we need, the effect of losing Laursen and probably Barry, (nevermind the possibility of receiving a huge offer for Ashley Young) I'm not going into all that, I have written enough. It's time for you Mr O'Neill to finally define yourself as either a top manager or a talented but fatally flawed one. He is hugely ambitious, he wants to be up there with Ferguson and Wenger and most of all his idol Brian Clough. Well Martin, to use a well-worn cliché, it's now or never.

I hope he realises it.

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Writer:J P Fear
Date:Monday May 25 2009
Time: 10:37AM

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Comments

0
Excellent.
ASPINALL
25/05/2009 10:52:00
0
Excellent.
ASPINALL
25/05/2009 10:52:00
0
Brilliant article. i think it sums up where we are right now perfectly. Let's hope a good summer in the transfer market and a long rest for the squad can galvanize us for next season!! UTV!!
Bobby Norman
25/05/2009 11:12:00
0
Brilliant article. i think it sums up where we are right now perfectly. Let's hope a good summer in the transfer market and a long rest for the squad can galvanize us for next season!! UTV!!
Bobby Norman
25/05/2009 11:12:00
0
Good article. Except we have been saying "this window is vital for MON " for to long. I think we know what were going to get. an unknown who will flop , re( Cuellar, Salifou) 1 big name, and a couple of £4m players. Its time to get off the fence, for all his good work in stabilizing the club - he is pretty crap in the transfer market. For me he leaves it all far to late - then ends up paying way over for dross. I don't think we are going any further with MON - and I expect to be gone by Christmas.
graydon
25/05/2009 11:31:00
0
Good article. Except we have been saying "this window is vital for MON " for to long. I think we know what were going to get. an unknown who will flop , re( Cuellar, Salifou) 1 big name, and a couple of £4m players. Its time to get off the fence, for all his good work in stabilizing the club - he is pretty crap in the transfer market. For me he leaves it all far to late - then ends up paying way over for dross. I don't think we are going any further with MON - and I expect to be gone by Christmas.
graydon
25/05/2009 11:31:00
0
Agree 100% with that - one of the most balanced and articulate articles i've read on this topic in recent weeks. I think this is spot on. MON has taken us upwards season on season - FACT. Some of his signings have been excellent (Carew, A.Young, L.Young), some have borne fruit over time (Petrov) and some are as yet still unproven but show great promise (Davies, Cuellar, Milner). Some have been signed to bolster the squad, and have done just that - adequately but not spectacularly (Reo Coker, Sidwell, Shorey, Knight). Then there are another bunch that haven't quite worked out as well....I think most of us know who they are. So mixed transfer dealings for sure, and that's without even considering talent that we've let go in the same time, and for various reasons (Davies, Cahill, Mellberg). However I think we can wrap all of the activity of the last 3 seasons into what I would call "enhancing numbers and developing the squad". I think MON has made a decent job of that - evidenced by the 2 top 6 placings you've mentioned. Interestingly, our closest competitors at present are the Toffees, whose manager has adopted a very similar approach, and you'd have to say we've been catching up on in recent seasons. I wholeheartedly agree that now we need to start seeing a different type of signing - the odd 12m or 15m player to really take us up a notch. Fellaini has been outstanding for Everton this year from what i've seen - that's what you need to take the next step. So please God no more Salifou, Routledge, Harewood, Heskey signings. No more bargains, cheap has-beens, or cheap-about-to-be-has-beens. Let's plump for real quality. This is the big challenge. How do Villa attract the sort of players that we want, given (in theory) the 'Top4' clubs would also be looking in their direction? Young talent that is emerging, wants to come play in the Premiership and not sit on the bench. That's what we can offer them (are you listening Defour?). Don't write off our stint in the Top4 this season as a waste of time - if nothing else that helped put us on the footballing map in a big way, and can only help us continue to push the profile of AVFC within Europe and beyond. Hopefully MON can use that, and needs to do everything he can to attract some of these top talents and sign them up. I for one will be judging him on that basis over the coming weeks, and should he fail - then maybe it's time for us to consider whether he is or is not the right man to take us up a notch further. It's a fair question for sure, but I strongly believe given what he's done for us thus far that he's earned the right to have a crack at it!
YatesyVillain
25/05/2009 11:32:00
0
Agree 100% with that - one of the most balanced and articulate articles i've read on this topic in recent weeks. I think this is spot on. MON has taken us upwards season on season - FACT. Some of his signings have been excellent (Carew, A.Young, L.Young), some have borne fruit over time (Petrov) and some are as yet still unproven but show great promise (Davies, Cuellar, Milner). Some have been signed to bolster the squad, and have done just that - adequately but not spectacularly (Reo Coker, Sidwell, Shorey, Knight). Then there are another bunch that haven't quite worked out as well....I think most of us know who they are. So mixed transfer dealings for sure, and that's without even considering talent that we've let go in the same time, and for various reasons (Davies, Cahill, Mellberg). However I think we can wrap all of the activity of the last 3 seasons into what I would call "enhancing numbers and developing the squad". I think MON has made a decent job of that - evidenced by the 2 top 6 placings you've mentioned. Interestingly, our closest competitors at present are the Toffees, whose manager has adopted a very similar approach, and you'd have to say we've been catching up on in recent seasons. I wholeheartedly agree that now we need to start seeing a different type of signing - the odd 12m or 15m player to really take us up a notch. Fellaini has been outstanding for Everton this year from what i've seen - that's what you need to take the next step. So please God no more Salifou, Routledge, Harewood, Heskey signings. No more bargains, cheap has-beens, or cheap-about-to-be-has-beens. Let's plump for real quality. This is the big challenge. How do Villa attract the sort of players that we want, given (in theory) the 'Top4' clubs would also be looking in their direction? Young talent that is emerging, wants to come play in the Premiership and not sit on the bench. That's what we can offer them (are you listening Defour?). Don't write off our stint in the Top4 this season as a waste of time - if nothing else that helped put us on the footballing map in a big way, and can only help us continue to push the profile of AVFC within Europe and beyond. Hopefully MON can use that, and needs to do everything he can to attract some of these top talents and sign them up. I for one will be judging him on that basis over the coming weeks, and should he fail - then maybe it's time for us to consider whether he is or is not the right man to take us up a notch further. It's a fair question for sure, but I strongly believe given what he's done for us thus far that he's earned the right to have a crack at it!
YatesyVillain
25/05/2009 11:32:00
0
fantastic article, sums up my feelings brilliantly... This summer is massive and next season will surely define MON?
The Fear
25/05/2009 11:48:00
0
fantastic article, sums up my feelings brilliantly... This summer is massive and next season will surely define MON?
The Fear
25/05/2009 11:48:00
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