Seeing Martin O’Neill’s post-match interview on Saturday after his side beat Bolton 1-0 it was blatantly obvious that he was still hurting from last weekend’s trashing against Chelsea. And with doubts about his future as Aston Villa manager being raised it hasn’t been a great week for the Irishman. So, will he stay or will he go?
After back to back sixth place finishes Villa were expected to build on that success this term and challenge for fourth place grabbing a spot in next seasons Champions League, which would be viewed by most as yet another step in the right direction.
However, once again Villa look to have run out of steam just as they near the finish line. For me, the buck has to lie with one man, the manager of course. He expects his team to challenge, yet uses the same key players time and time again, game after game without rotation.
That said it is always good to have stability in a team also, while being able to maintain a level of consistency at the same time, a couple of tweaks here and there and then Villa away in a hack.
Much speculation has been made about O’Neill’s future with some sources saying that he had walked out of the club on Tuesday after a row with owner Randy Lerner, coupled with odds on his departure tumbling from 66/1 to 7/1.
In the run-up to the Bolton game he has said that he will, as he has done in previous seasons sit down will Lerner to discuss next season. Since joining the club four years ago O’Neill has been operating on a “one year rolling contract”. If I was a Villa fan I wouldn’t be exactly filled with confidence by this. Why?
Because he has not nailed his colours to the mast and could effectively walk out of the hotseat at the end of any season. And with the manager’s job vacant at former club Celtic it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could go back to the side where he achieved huge success.
I’m not taking away from what O’Neill has achieved at Villa – he has led them to the Carling Cup final albeit unfortunately losing out to Manchester United.
Reaching Wembley twice in one season is no mean feat either for the Midlands side, and next Sunday they come up against Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi-Finals.
If you were to ask Villa fans right now which they would rather, winning the FA Cup or finishing fourth many would say the former.
After investing £88million in players, Aston Villa has spent more money than any other Premier League team, obviously with the exception of moneybags Manchester City.
Therefore, another sixth place finish would not be considered as a success from my point of view. Yes, the Premier League is more competitive this season, but Villa have had their chance to grab 4th twice now. But, what better way to make up for that by winning silverware.
Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of Martin O’Neill and really like Aston Villa as a club and they way the line-up so I would not like to see him leave the club, nor would I ever like to see them crash and burn at the final hurdle.
Coming back to the question will he stay or will he go? Honestly, I think he will stay; he hasn’t lost the fans and hasn’t lost the dressing room therefore there is no reason for him to leave unless he feels he isn’t up to the job anymore and we all know that is not true.
Extra reading: Is Martin O’Neill all he is cracked up to be? – Gabriele Marcotti