Monday 19 February 2018

O'Neill salutes Villa faithful


Ian Parkes

Martin O'Neill was "overwhelmed" by the reaction of the Aston Villa fans on a day when his players showed the necessary character.

The Villa boss has had a turbulent week, sparked by last week's 7-1 drubbing at Chelsea, and he was forced to answer questions regarding his future after rumours surfaced in midweek. It is fair to say O'Neill has not nailed his colours to the mast, stating he will sit down with chairman Randy Lerner in the summer and discuss matters.

If the supporters had their way they would keep him at Villa Park for life, evident yesterday by the backing he received when he stepped off the coach when it pulled up outside the Reebok Stadium.

They also chanted his name at the start of a game in which his side ended up as 1-0 winners against Bolton courtesy of Ashley Young's exquisite winner in the 11th minute for his ninth goal of the season.

"I don't want to sound melodramatic about it, but I was overwhelmed by it. It was very nice, and I appreciated it greatly," said O'Neill.

The fans have made their intentions clear, and it now remains for O'Neill to do likewise, but when pressed yesterday he was again giving nothing away.

"What I've said this week is that I will sit down with the chairman at the end of the season and assess the situation. When I spoke to him on Tuesday he has, despite the Chelsea game, been enjoying the season," added O'Neill.

That return trip to Wembley sees Villa with the perfect opportunity to gain revenge over Chelsea, and they will at least do so on the ideal platform after this clean-sheet win.

"We played very poorly last week in the last half hour of the game when we lost our shape and discipline. The players were determined to put it right, and it was a great reaction, which is what I expected.

"I couldn't have guaranteed us winning the game, but the players were determined to put things right in terms of performance on the pitch, and we played very well."

Sunday Independent

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