Martin O'Neill was seen as a saviour




Martin O'Neill was seen as a saviour

Just a few months ago Martin O'Neill was seen as a saviour as his exciting, young Aston Villa side rode high in the league. Now the season is nearing its end his team are struggling at the bottom end of the table with a genuine fear of relegation.

To be fair O'Neill has not been able to change much from the days of David O'Leary. But the question has to be asked, has O'Neill been found out? Is he really as good as people thought he was? It is probably still too early to judge him just yet, the team is still one of O'Leary's making, it has yet to have the Martin O'Neill stamp put on it.

Will he return to his tried and trusted 3-5-2 formation? In some respects they have almost played three at the back all season, with only one full-back making any real attempt to get forward. I do think if O'Neill is given time he can take Villa into Europe, the real question is whether he can sustain success. His teams at Leicester and Celtic were aging rapidly and it is yet to be seen whether he is capable of keeping a side near the top.

Leicester were essentially a selling club so he was forced to replace players regularly, but at Celtic he was able to hang onto his stars. There were few signs that he could bring in players to replace them in the short time he was there because he never had to.

This is definitely the hardest test of Martin O'Neill's career, a small squad lacking in quality has to be improved and quickly. But perhaps his biggest challenge will be to win round the pessimistic fans and make Villa Park an intimidating place to visit.

Currently the atmosphere favours the away team with empty seats and a seeming lack of passion from the crowd, except when Villa are doing badly. The boos and jeers when things are going wrong are far louder than the cheers when it is going to plan. Until that is changed Aston Villa will always struggle to fulfil their undoubted potential.

Article written by Tris Burke



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