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Martin O'Neill - Where It All Went Wrong

Martin O'Neill - Where It All Went Wrong

MON - Where it all went wrong - Official

Much has been written recently but this is where it all went wrong imho.

His decision to quit was the result of a plan that started to go wrong 18 months ago. Let me explain. In his first season he was a breath of fresh air, superbly galvanising the momentum started by the end of the Ellis years (cheers Fear and VFC).

11th was a great first season return for comparatively modest spend (mainly Petrov) and the swap of Baros for Carew midseason. Happy Days!

Season 2 some more improvement including 6 goals at Derby and a 5-1 bashing of the B-lose. We thought the Messiah had arrived! Season 3 had a steady start with Milner becoming the most notable addition. Then he found a system that worked for the club. 451 (433) call it what you will. But it consisted mainly of Sidwell, Petrov and Barry in Midfield, Ashley Young and Milner working up and down and Gabi being the speed demon that stopped teams pressing up too far against us. We were unplayable. We went a record run of away victories and Middlesbro were the only team that actually beat us when we played that formation (2-1 at home due to a last minute Sidwell mistake). We turned the year, not just chasing top 4 but the title.

That was 'our time'.

That was the moment when we could have kicked on. Unfortunately it was the time when it fell apart for MON, for 4 reasons.

We lost Laursen. We bought Heskey (I think Heskey is a fabulous team player, but not a goalscorer and was just wrong for Villa at the time) and inexplicably he changed formation to 442. He used Milner and Young as out and out wingers, dropped Sidwell and put Heskey alongside Gabi. The result of this meant we lost control of the middle of the pitch. Petrov who was brilliant as the holding midfielder, suddenly had too much ground to cover, meaning he was knackered after an hour of every game. And the removal of the holding midfielder in front of the back line meant a defence without the brilliant Laursen were exposed time and again.

The draw against Stoke, defeats against Chelsea and Everton (FA Cup) and the giving up in Europe and it was the beginning of the end.We eventually went from title challengers to just 3 victories in the last 18 games. Last season was strange but was viewed as a success by many, but it simply masked the problems. With the squad at his disposal we should have been title challengers, not just challenging for top 4. But players were played out of position and the squad was never rotated. He wouldn't go back to the successful 451 formation that had served us so well. We were stuffed by Wigan on the opening day playing 442. Sense prevailed and he reverted to 451 at Liverpool and we won 3-1.

Only to change it straight back the game after. That was it, there was no way back after that for the players. Unrest set in. People point to the trips to Wembley because they were great days out. But in truth we never faced anybody more difficult than Sunderland in the League Cup and never faced anybody of note in the FA Cup until Chelsea who comfortably beat us. We struggled against Palace and Reading en route to the semi final. I think we actually finished 6th because of the quality of players that MON re! cruited, but we should have done so much better had he have utilised the quality at his disposal.

I have two hopes for the start of the season.

One, Kevin Mac uses the formation that has served us so well.

Two, Bob Bradley gets nowhere near Villa Park. Randy has invested £80m+ net on players and tens of millions more on infrastructure (£14M alone on Bodymoor Heath).

So MON throwing his toys out of the pram because he wasn't going to get all the money from the Milner transfer is laughable. He had more than enough money in his time.

Randy is shaping up to be our best ever Chairman, but the decision he makes now has the potential to undo all of the good work he has done to date. UTV

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Saturday August 14 2010
Time: 9:26AM


I think you've nailed it voiceoth. Just to add that O'Neill's stubbornness and pig-headedness (like his hero Clough) meant he couldn't take advice or change.
14/08/2010 10:23:00
If you had sold Milner to us quicly for a fair price of £20 million and given that to O'Neill - who is an excellent manager - he would still be with you. Your total stupidity and greed have made him leave and you will now become mid table fodder at best.
14/08/2010 11:00:00
wswilly3 You are not getting the point. Martin had taken us as far as he could whilst holding on to his 20 year old tactics and his stubborn ways. Its testament to his skills as a motivator that he got the consistency of results that he did. MON does however have a fatal flaw in his character which I fear will prevent him from getting one of the very top jobs. Maybe this stubbornness was shown up when he interviewed for the England Job. Can you imagine him playing Terry at right back and switching Johnson to Left back and dropping Ashley Cole? Villa fans don't have to imagine that scenario. So its Thanks for all you've done. Best wishes for your future career and now bring on a more tactically astute and forward looking coach to take us forward.
Villa Onion bag
14/08/2010 11:25:00
wswilly3, you're talking out of your backside. You're not a Villa fan and you know not of what you speak. I agree with all the comments above. O'Neill stumbled on a winning formula, by luck rather than judgement, because 4-5-1 was necessitated by ONE injury to a striker. (Ironically, if O'Neill had done his job properly and ensured that we had more than two strikers he was willing to play in the squad, we'd have never tried 4-5-1.) But regardless of the circumstances, we found a method that worked bloody well - despite Sidwell being a passenger! For O'Neill to try and fix something that wasn't broken was foolish. For him to fail to revert to a tried and tested formula after results worsened was idiocy. His supporters will point to what he achieved (and, superficially, three consecutive top six finishes is pretty good), but his critics will point to what he could achieved, and what he should have, and needed, to achieve, to justify the huge investment. Our tricky current financial situation is a direct result of O'Neill's failiure to secure Champions League football that would have generated the revenue to sustain and even expand our wage bill, and enable us to improve the team and strengthen the squad.
14/08/2010 11:36:00
I agree with everything Albanista has said, other than the Sidwell remarks. He may not have been glamorous but he performed a brilliant job in the formation he was asked to play. We won 12 drew 3 and lost 1 of the 16 league games in which he was deployed in that role. You do not do that by carrying people. However the simple facts are that it was time for M'ON to move on. That is beyond question. The timing was wrong though. However the King is dead, long live the King. I have had my fry up and I'm off to blow the froth off a couple of cold ones at the Addies, before strolling up to my seat in the top of the Holte. UTV
14/08/2010 12:51:00
Sidwell needs to go thats all ill say on that 1.
14/08/2010 12:58:00
Think Sidwell is good 50% of games, but that's not good enough... would rather have NRC who is good 70% of games!!
14/08/2010 16:47:00
Thanks for the comments - rationale on the whole and far less abusive than I thought. Good win for you boys today and Milners farewell goal was good.
15/08/2010 00:18:00
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