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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Aitken at helm after O'Leary exit
Roy Aitken (left) with former Aston Villa boss David O'Leary
Aitken joined Villa as O'Leary's assistant manager in 2003
Aston Villa began the search for a new manager on Thursday as caretaker-boss Roy Aitken took training for the first time since David O'Leary's exit.

O'Leary, 48, left Villa by mutual consent on Wednesday and Aitken has been named as temporary manager.

Aitken said: "This situation has been hyped so much but it's in the past now and we've had a word with the players, we all need to start moving forward."

Gordon Cowans and Alan Curbishley are early favourites to succeed O'Leary.

Villa's first pre-season game is at Walsall's Bescot Stadium on Friday.

Aitken will be in charge of the side until chairman Doug Ellis appoints a permanent successor to Irishman O'Leary.

There's nothing to be gained by looking back, we've got to start the season off well

Villa defender Liam Ridgewell

Aitken continued: "It's been a bit of a media circus and it's important the players move on, they need to get a good pre-season under their belt.

"David has wished me the best and I'm delighted to be able to continue, I've got good people around me and it's exciting to be with the players on the training ground.

"The training is very good and there's no split in the camp. The work ethic is fantastic and they'll show their quality in the next few weeks."

Defender Liam Ridgewell said Villa had to forget about the O'Leary situation and concentrate on making the best possible start to the new season.

"There's nothing to be gained by looking back, we've got to look forward and start the season off well," said Ridgewell.

"We have not got the easiest of starts to the season away at Arsenal, but we have to go there looking to cause a big upset.

"The thing with football is you can have a nightmare season and then a great one. Look at Everton, they went from just staying up to Champions League qualifiers.

"Last season is in the past and we have to make sure we do better this time around."

Much of the focus on Villa remains on Ellis, the 82-year-old who has run the Midlands club since 1982, with calls for him to step down.

O'Leary never had Villa at heart but there are a lot of people who'd love the challenge of being manager

Ex-Villa defender Colin Gibson

Ellis has a 39% stake in Villa and he had said previously he is prepared to sell if the conditions are right for himself and the club.

Villa issued a statement to the Stock Exchange on Thursday to clarify the situation about the club's ownership.

"Shareholders and supporters will be aware that Aston Villa has been in an official offer period since 19 September 2005, when the AVIL consortium made an initial approach to the company.

"As previously announced, the board appointed [investment bank] Rothschild as an adviser to examine the AVIL proposal and can confirm that there have since been a number of other approaches from various parties, both from the UK and overseas.

"Extensive discussions involving Rothschild, the chairman, Doug Ellis, and credible parties are ongoing and will be fully explored to determine whether a formal offer for the issued share capital of Aston Villa will be forthcoming.

"However, there is no certainty that any of these discussions will lead to an offer being made. Shareholders and supporters will be updated in due course."

SEE ALSO
The Deadly Dozen
20 Jul 06 |  Football
O'Leary parts company with Villa
19 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa
Phillips calling for Villa unity
19 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa
Villa dismiss player unrest claim
15 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa


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