Martin O’Neill yesterday quit as manager of Aston Villa just five days before the start of the new Premier League season. The Northern Irishman’s position has long been the subject of rumour, but the timing of his departure still comes as a surprise.
Kevin MacDonald has been appointed caretaker boss, but no reason has been given for O’Neill’s decision to quit.
O’Neill said: “I have enjoyed my time at Aston Villa immensely. It’s obviously a wrench to be leaving such a magnificent club.”
He was known to be annoyed at the lack of investment in recent seasons by owner Randy Lerner. Conceding defeat in the battle to keep James Milner at Villa Park was also a factor.
Former Villa defender Martin Laursen told BBC Sport: “He wanted more than Randy Lerner could give him. He is so ambitious that when he doesn’t get what he wants he walks away. But I don’t think more players will leave.”
Certainly not according to the Daily Mirror, which claims the Villa squad were last night texting each other images of champagne bottles to celebrate O’Neill’s exit.
The players were apparently unhappy with O’Neill’s team selection, tactics and pre-season regime. They were reportedly told to “Get your trainers” when defender Richard Dunne complained they were not seeing enough of the ball in pre-season training.
OTP can’t help wondering if this isn’t a bit like a bickering couple splitting up and both realising further down the line that they were better of with each other.