'He spat his dummy out and left them in the lurch'- English journalist blames Martin O'Neill for Aston Villa's woes
A reporter for the Mail Online has claimed that Republic of Ireland Martin O’Neill is partly culpable for Aston Villa’s current predicament.
After a disastrous campaign that has seen them record just three league wins all season, Villa sit at the foot of the Premier League table on 16 points and, barring an unforeseen miracle, the Birmingham club will be playing Championship football next season.
Should they go down, Villa will find themselves outside the Premier League for the first time since its formation.
For Villa to avoid the drop, they would have to take maximum points from their last five games which, on recent evidence, is a fanciful notion to say the least.
The managerial carousel at Villa Park has also bordered on the farcical. Since October, there’s been four men at the helm; Tim Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Rémi Garde and current interim boss, Eric Black.
Want-away owner Randy Lerner has been unable to sell the club, who have informed their staff that there will be considerable redundancies across the business upon relegation.
Martin O’Neill was in charge of Aston Villa four years, from August 2006 to August 2010. During his first season in charge, the Derry man guided the club to an 11th place finish, five higher than the previous campaign.
Under his watch, Villa finished sixth in three successive seasons and competed, albeit unsuccessfully, in the Europa League play off rounds.
According to Adrian Durham, O’Neill’s achievements with the club are completely undermined by the manner of his unexpected departure just five days out from the beginning of the 2010-11 season and, indeed, Villa’s profligacy in the transfer market during his tenure.
“I'm waiting for the League Managers' Association to issue a statement on behalf of Martin O'Neill apologising for his part in Aston Villa’s demise,” Durham wrote in the Mail Online on Tuesday.
“A manager could burn a stadium down, sell all the players and trouser the proceeds and still get the full backing of the LMA so I won't expect any acknowledgement of failure any time soon.
“The organisation's statement when O'Neill left Villa days before the start of the season in 2010 said it was 'disappointed.'
“Unsurprisingly it made no mention of the fact that O'Neil spent more than £30million on the likes of Curtis Davies, Steve Sidwell, Luke Young, Marlon Harewood, Zat Knight and Nigel Reo-Coker.”
Reportedly, O’Neill fell out with Lerner over the size of the transfer fund at his disposal, subsequently leaving the club acrimoniously and with great haste, before being ultimately succeeded by Gerard Houllier. For Durham, the former Celtic manager’s last act at Villa Park was unforgivable.
"O'Neill started the rot by signing that rotten lot, and then spat his dummy out and stomped off when James Milner was sold and Randy Lerner decided he'd seen O'Neill waste too much money already, and opted to not hand over bundles of cash to his manager.
“When asked to do his job without wasting millions, O'Neill left Villa in the lurch. A series of bad appointments and decisions since then – seriously, who thought Remi Garde would be the saviour? – have left Villa all but relegated.”