Thursday, 6 January 2011
Was O'Neill a genius?
Firstly, one major consideration is James Milner. When Villa signed him I was delighted - I believed then, and perhaps still do, that he is the next Steven Gerard. Man City aren't doing him any favours, but at Villa he was the main creative attacking force - something very lacking at the moment. It's hard to say whether the sale of Milner was the reason O'Neill left - it seemed to be on the cards for a while - but what is clear is that Stephen Ireland isn't an adequate replacement.
Perhaps O'Neill was better tactically, or used subs better? It is widely believed that whilst O'Neill is regarded as an excellent man-manager, tactically he doesn't always get it right. Villa fans last season were often frustrated by a lack of flexibility or simply a lack of options used by O'Neill - in particular in the use of subs. Indeed, Aston Villa used the fewest players last season and by March, a month without any points for 3 seasons under O'Neill, the team had been found out and early promise had faded.
There's no real explanation for Villa's form at the moment - another terrible performance against Sunderland leaves them in real danger of relegation. You would think that they have the players to stay up and Houllier might be able to further add to the squad this month. There needs to be a change - in tactics, in personnel or in attitude. Only time will tell whether Lerner's faith in Houllier will be repaid.