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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 August 2006, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Villa uncovered
The BBC's Pat Murphy has known Martin O'Neill during the new Aston Villa manager's illustrious career as a coach and player.

He broke the story on Thursday that he would be joining Villa.

Murphy is also familiar with the goings on at Aston Villa and provides BBC Sport with an expert's insight into the partnership between O'Neill and the Midlands club.

Pat Murphy is BBC Radio's Sport's football reporter in the Midlands
Pat Murphy
BBC Radio Sport's Midland football correspondent

HOW GOOD A MOVE IS IT FOR BOTH PARTIES?

I think it's a great move for Aston Villa in terms of galvanising their prospects.

Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis (left) and manager Martin O'Neill
Ellis luring O'Neill could be the chairman's last hurrah

Season ticket sales have been appallingly low and I think they'll probably double leading up to the start of the season.

Villa have been sleepwalking towards mediocrity ever since 1998 when they were top of the league in October and John Gregory wanted a couple of extra players and chairman Doug Ellis would not sanction it.

Not since Ron Atkinson arrived in 1991 has there been such an exciting managerial appointment for the club.

I believe it's great for Martin O'Neill because he will show yet again what an outstanding manager he is.

If you look at his record he spends time with his clubs - five years each with Wycombe, Leicester and Celtic - he is not a moonlighter.

He will get in there, root and branch, sort things out and make tough decisions.

I think it's absolutely outstanding for Aston Villa and their supporters that he is a charismatic and dynamic person after the passive management of David O'Leary and the excuses culture he ushered in over the last three years.

Martin O'Neill will bring in an accountability culture whereby people stick their hands up and take responsibility, including himself.

WHAT WILL O'NEILL WANT FROM THE MOVE?

He will need to be backed by the board and Ellis - depending on how long he is at the club.

O'Neill's not the kind of person who waves a chequebook, but he knows how the game has changed such a lot in recent years whereby you have to spend.

He's only ever worked with one world-class player, that's Henrik Larsson, and I know he'd love to stretch himself with top players.

I hope and expect a takeover to go through within the next few weeks whereby funds of up to 20m will be immediately made available to him and then again in the January transfer window.

But he is not necessarily a chequebook manager. His strengths are man-management, motivation, turning average players into good players and turning good players into outstanding players.

In that quality he is just like Brian Clough. He is the nearest among modern managers in Britain to his old mentor who always managed to get his players to go up a notch.

On a personal level, he will be marvellous for the Midlands media because his witty and self-deprecating style is a refreshing antidote to the bland and colourless platitude that so many managers offer these days.

He is a throwback to the days when managers were flesh and blood and were characters.

WILL ELLIS NOW STAY AT THE CLUB TO ENJOY ANY SUCCESS GAINED BY O'NEILL?

I can understand why people think Ellis might be tempted to stay because he has a large ego, as he demonstrated during the news conference on Friday.

He thought it was highly interesting that he attended one of Nottingham Forest's European Cup wins in 1979 and 1980 - as if anyone cares about that. He has a powerful ego.

But I believe Ellis, 83 in January, realises it's about time Villa were ushered into a new era.

By my reckoning there are five consortia expressing solid interest in buying Aston Villa football club for 64m.

One of them will surely find the appropriate formula to persuade a man who owns 39% of the shares to authorise a new dawn at the club off the pitch.

I do believe Ellis will think this is his last hurrah. He'll think he has at last managed to do something for the long-suffering supporters.

He'll hold the view that they can denigrate him all that they want but at least he'll hand over a club that is run on a sound financial footing so there will be no repeat of the Leeds United debacle under Peter Ridsdale.

He would then expect that sharper, more streetwise people economically should now take over the running of the club and I believe it is going to happen.

Under the current regime, if it drags on, I would be surprised if O'Neill's got more than 5m to spend and obviously he would have to make do.

WHAT ABOUT MATTERS ON THE PLAYING FRONT AT VILLA PARK?

Don't think for a moment that O'Neill has not been watching football in the last couple of years.

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill
O'Neill has an 'idiosyncratic and quirky' managerial style

He will have his own list of players and contacts in the game. He'll know what is needed in various stages of Villa's undoubted and expected rise and rise.

What it means for the current players is that there will be no dissent or Chinese whispers to the media because O'Neill runs a happy ship.

Those who don't like it will go. Again, that's the ruthlessness he shares with Clough. He can't be all things to all men.

Also, don't underestimate the power of his backroom team - John Robertson, who played with him at Nottingham Forest, and Steve Walford.

They have been together for a long time and they have different characteristics.

They will work the players psychologically very cleverly. Those that don't like it will go but those who stay will relish the idiosyncratic and quirky style of O'Neill.

He will not be hands on, taking every training session. He'll watch things like Clough used to do. Robertson and Walford will do the hands-on work.

O'Neill is very clever at the players not seeing a great deal of him. He is a great believer in being fresh, having new things to say and making sure the players do not get bored with him.

WHAT ABOUT O'NEILL'S AIMS FOR HIMSELF AND THE CLUB?

O'Neill has missed being in football and it is a drug for him.

His aims are European football and the Champions League. He has not come to Villa Park just to plod along. He wants to stretch himself, the club, players and supporters.

He will take things in stages. He won't be promising things overnight - he is not that daft.

Having been out of the game, he wants to be stretched again and prove he can still do it.

Make no mistake. Martin O'Neill has not turned up at Villa Park at the age of 54 for a nice payday. He has turned up to continue his impressive CV.



SEE ALSO
O'Neill named Aston Villa manager
04 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
Hero to Villan
04 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
Consortia ponder joint Villa bid
02 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa


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