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At what point would you start to question Martin O'Neill?


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  • Moderator

When it comes to Martin, the forum here on VillaTalk covers the whole spectrum of opinion. There are those who seem pre-occupied with the negative and there are those who see very little wrong. There are those who are cautiously optimistic, there are those who are suspecting that it might all go wrong and there is everyone in between all of that.

No matter what the opinion is, the emotion runs fairly high at times. None more so than in the aftermath of the Wigan debacle.

However usually in amongst all of the emotion, we somehow still manage to have discussions that border on coherent and respectful! Amazing really.

Now I am very much of an optimistic mind and I still believe that Martin has 2 weeks to turn this squad from one lacking in defence and midfield into one that is fully equipped to tackle a football season on the 4 or so fronts that we will be expected to.

The one main caveat in all of that is that while I am optimistic and while I am very much of the opinion that someone deserves to be allowed to do their job and only be judged after the event (in this case after the window closes), I do think that if we come out of this window without the necessary personnel then my opinion and my optimism will change for the first time since Martin took over in the summer of 2006.

Things have improved season on season since Martin arrived. I also firmly believe that last season was an improvement on the season before given what we flirted with for most of the season in comparison to doing nothing of the sort the year before, despite finishing 6th on both occasions.

Martin (as is the case with most transfer activity) tends to be more active in the latter stages of the window, so again I fully appreciate that this article is getting ahead of itself but don't worry there's a point to it. If things do not numerically improve considerably in the next 2 weeks then we will have been listening for 3 years and what will then have been 7 transfer windows about how we are light on numbers, how Martin will try to bring people in and how we will not overspend. Most of that is fine, but after those 7 transfer windows I would find it very difficult to continually justify defending a small squad that has been given ample time to expand. I don't for a second underestimate the difficulty in buying quality players. I just can't imagine it is quite as hard as Villa sometimes make it look. It's not like we're out busking for pennies like Everton is it?

So, with all of that in mind, I have a question to my fellow optimists and we come to the main point of the article.

At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far? Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is. Have we already reached it?

As I've said - I am a very loyal follower of the man since he took over. I have always believed; and I still do believe; that the only gauge of a manager is league position and results. That no matter what he does in the transfer market can only be properly and objectively judged by what the team does on the pitch and where they end up in the league. But having said all of that, Martin makes a rod for his own back and it then rings very hollow to have the manager complaining about small squads and over-using the rhetoric about trying to bring in this and that and 'we'll see what we can do over the next X amount of weeks'. If you think the squad is small then make it bigger. If you don't think it's small then don't complain about it.

This season is our most important season since Martin took over. We now have consecutive top 6 finishes. We have consecutive European seasons. The next step, albeit a very difficult one, is to try and bridge the gap to the top 4. We have high profile players that we may find it very difficult, nay impossible, to keep hold of next summer if we do not make significant inroads this season. I can't imagine being quite so relaxed about Ashley Young's future if we have finished 6th again next season and even that is not a given with the emergence of Man City and a decent looking Spurs side making positions 5 through 8 a bit of a lottery.

This is why the next 2 weeks are so important in my view. I have absolutely no complaints about the signings we have currently made. I just think that if Martin, for the 7th time, comes out of a transfer window without supplementing the squad sufficiently for the fight ahead then I'm sorry but I'll have to start asking what the hell we are playing at. Not to mention that we will have given our rivals a massive boost by going backwards through staying still.

But hey, I accept that this is all hypothetical, as was the intention. It hasn't actually happened yet and it may never do.

I just want to know just how loyal the loyal ones are...

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

If we were in the bottom three, or too close to, at Christmas.

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

I'll be there every home game that I can be there, clapping, cheering and screaming encouragement to my team. No boos from this fan.

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far? Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is. Have we already reached it?

I don't understand everything he does. All managers make some strange choices, but I have faith at this time that his decisions will, on balance, work out to be for the best.

If he doesn't manage to bring in some more players between now and the end of the month I will be disappointed, but I will still keep believing. It could well be that we don't have the money we thought we had, or it could be that the players we need to push us to the next level are not available.

But I admit it would put a little seed of doubt there.

We have a tough start to the season so I am not going to jump on him if results don't go our way for a while yet. I don't care about the style of our football, I like our wingers and our pacy play.

He'll have to go some way yet with me that the progress he's made, consistent progress for three seasons, would be discounted. Only the spectre of relegation could make me feel that getting a replacement in *might* be beneficial.

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

at the end of the season if we've suffered from the squad size and dropped below 8th

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

my support for Villa is the same whether we're 1st or 20th in the league

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far? Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is.

for us to fall below mid table in the final standings and for it too look more than a blip

Have we already reached it?

with two top 6 finishes ? don't talk **** stupid

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There are 3 triggers which could occur to make me think things are going badly awry, somewhere.

1. The aforementioned squad strength in depth.

2. Selling our better players - Ash, Carew, Milner etc.

3. Performances on the pitch staying poor - if it's still pants in October, I'll be seriously concerned about the MO'N/Villa situation.

Things that I'd like to see happening, that would really boost my hopes, and allay my fears are the recruitment of a leader at the back, a genuine quality player to replace Martin Laursen. Ditto in midfield for GB and further progression from some very talented kids.

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until February I was one of the optimists, arguably one of those who argued loudest on his behalf.

He seemed up until that fateful afternoon against Stoke (in fact for 89 minutes of that game too it looked as if the great Moscow gamble was going to pay off) to be in complete control. it seemed as if everything he tried came off. Even during the bad runs, (and there were a few, especially in the first season) you always felt they were temporary blips, you felt like everyone was still pulling in the same direction - players, fans, owner and manager.

Ultimately, you only had to show his critics (and there have always been a few) the results on the pitch to shut them up, because on the pitch is all that matters. it doesnt matter who he signs, it doesnt really matter what players he picks or what formation he uses - as long as he is winning. This is always true of managers.

For me, loud alarm bells started to ring after the match at Eastlands, and I wrote at that time that this was no minor blip in form, that something was horribly wrong. There was something scarily empty about that performance, and we saw the same again this past Saturday against Wigan. Here we are nearly six months later and just about every single thing that has happened since that night in Manchester has confirmed my fears, and this has been reflected by results on the pitch which for a run of seventeen games now have been abysmal and totally unacceptable

Sometimes managers lose the plot. Even the good ones. it happened to David O'Leary who suffered a similar dramatic slide after signing his new contract, it happened to Brian Little when personal problems overtook his life. Sometimes its just the right thing for a football club and its manager to part company.

I hope I'm wrong, because I really thought that Martin was the man to lead us to the promised land. But as I said back in the Spring, this is no minor blip in form, something is horribly wrong. Here's hoping Martin manages to sort out whatever it is, as we dont want to have to go back to square one unless its really 100% necessary. We arent at that point just yet, but this is the test that will determine whether O'Neill is really a top class manager or just another also ran.

heres hoping he can fix it and get us back to winning ways

over to you Mr O'Neill, time to start getting it right again

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

For my own part, I re-think it all the time. But my position hasn't changed much over the first three years. I don't think much of what MON has done during that time has been particularly surprising. His tactical preferences are what I expected to see given his past record, his transfers have been solid but (Young excepted) not particularly brilliant, and the team has progressed to where I figured it would be (in general) at this stage.

I think what you are asking is, at what point does my hope that he can lead us to the promised land die? Well, that won't be dead in two weeks regardless of what personnel do or do not arrive. I'm not sure where the breaking point would be, but it would involve one of the following elements:

- Anything resembling a relegation battle beyond October.

- As blandy says, the departure of core players under most any circumstances (barring silly money offers from the sheiks that would allow the club to reinvest in even better talent)

- If it becomes clear (and I don't believe it yet has) that MON thinks certain combinations of tactics and personnel are the best he can do, when in fact they aren't good enough. My biggest worry on this score over the last two years has been a pervasive sense that O'Neill will continue to try to play a direct, fast-paced game without procuring defenders, especially fullbacks, who can pass the ball. I've had to suspend judgement on that one because of the profound delay in procuring any fullbacks at all. But there are equivalent concerns that could arise in midfield and up front. Many others on this board have decided they know that MON is a failure in one or more of these areas, but I just don't see that the evidence is there to support such a conclusion, yet. Should we reach that point... yes, then I'll be "re-thinking" my position.

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

I understand this question to mean: given the oil money flowing into the game, do I feel that we need to be faster on the trigger with our manager to keep pace? Does our quest for the top end limit my patience? I do not believe that this is a critical time in that sense, and so I will not cut this manager, or any manager, less slack to support some misguided sense of crisis.

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'?

Apart from engineering another extended losing streak, the main thing that might bring me up short would be his particular choice of player, should he acquire a 'signature' transfer. So far, he has stuck to making strong bids for good-but-not-great players who fit his desired system. If he splashed out really big money (and in the current market, we're talking 20M plus), and bought a player who didn't expand the squad's range of talent... then I'd be seriously looking at running up the white flag.

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far? Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is. Have we already reached it?

Well you want to know how the loyal ones feel and I regard myself as an ultra loyalist, and all my posts have been pro-MON.

First and foremost I would say that I still believe he is a terrific Manager and am still pleased he is our boss.

As for rethinking my view of him? Well I confess towards the last 2/3 games of last season I couldn't understand one issue in particular, that of leaving Sidwell out and persisting with a 4-4-2 (with 2 wingers) which was consistently overrun. Only Chelsea have to my knowledge successfully used 2 wingers and that in a high quality team and playing 4-3-3/4-5-1 (which worked well for us earlier in the season and in the previous 2 seasons).

That feeling resurfaced after Saturday when again it seemed so clear we needed that holding player.

However, whether that means I question his abilities is another matter. I am quite sure he sees all I can see but more besides, and I am willing to bow to his judgement - I just wish he would explain his reasoning.

Other than that I see no reason to rethink anything. A poor run of results is no more evidence of where we are going or of MON's skills than a good run, and both are equally likely in the short term (by which I mean a season or so) especially with a developing Team.

The fuss about his transfers is, in my view, largely unwarranted. I see little activity elsewhere, and at Centre Back, for example, there is clearly a domino effect waiting to happen because of Man City. I happen to think that some of the maligned signings, like Davies, will be great investments. I don't see any of the players he's released ripping up trees anywhere else.

I agree with his philosophy of careful purchases and no dramatic wage structure changes - look at how West Ham, Newcastle, Tottenham and Portsmouth have all had financial problems recently. These are clubs who bought players many on here were urging MON to get in the last window and the one before - they paid the wages, had a fleeting moment in the sun ,(in some cases) and are now struggling.

I also happen to think that one day a team without expensive 'stars' will win the League. I could go on, but the point is, I'm happy with why he does what he does.

How far does my support go ? If I back someone, whether at work ,in the family, or anywhere, I back them 100%. I don't beleive withdrawing your backing is either defensible or profitable in the long run. Back your judgement. My judgement is that he will get us somewhere special, so I cannot conceive of anything he can do that will alter my support for him overall.

My guess is that he long ago worked out that nobody can compete with Man Utd and Chelsea (and now City) financially. Therefore he needs another approach. I think he is a winner, and that his ambition is to win the League withthis Club. I think he has an idea how he can do it and given time and support (which unfortunately is now lacking) he will do it.

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

I never wanted him in the first place as i never rated his achievements at Celtic but he has won me over and i will give him as much time as possible once their is signs of progss. If we start to decline i would be worried

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far?

He needs to address his failings like scouting networks and transfer policy. 18 months to replace Barry and 8 months to replace Laursen and not getting replacements is not good enough. He needs to sort out his failings.

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

That point was the Wigan game. But he has two weeks to fix that, with a couple of quality signings. OR if our style of play changes. I don't mind losing (I'm an idiot) but our tactics - there is no innovation, no creativity, no intelligence, it's boring, relegation class.

Or if we just somehow start winning games, that would also fix it.

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

Forget about the top4. We were never that good, not even close. That was living in a dreamland.

Maybe last season and this season we could have had some chance, though, if Barry had stayed, if Laursen and Bouma would be fit and running, and if we could have had a couple of top-quality signings. And if ManC didn't have oil money.

But that was asking too much.

As the previous said: "My support for Villa is the same whether we're 1st or 20th in the league".

Being negative has got nothing to do with support or not supporting. This site (VT) in mainly mental therapy, a way to let it out, socialize. And on the contrary actually, this VT-pessimism (of mine) is a desperate tool to say something is wrong (IMO).

And I don't think we could stop supporting even if we tried.

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far? Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is.

If I understood the question my answer is above.

We have high profile players ...

I don't think we do, except A Young. Especially our central midfield, there we have seven players without any profil. Reo-Coker might do as a holding midfielder but the others, they are all the same. Every player should be very different to each other, they should have special qualities, special skills, and they should complement each other. How do Delph and Petrov and Milner complement each other?

Giggs, Scholes, Keane, Beckham - that's the way it should be. On a little smaller scale.

I just want to know just how loyal the loyal ones are...

So, there is possibility to lose one's credibility here ...?

If you don't approve MON's methods you are less loyal?

Rant is becoming luxury :rant:.

:flag:

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

It would probably do this after the transfer window, to an extent. He his signings are of a poor quality or low in numbers, how are we to move forward. A ggod point raised is that he has been in 7 transfer window opportunities now and spent a shed load last summer. Im into giving cghances but if we are languising in mid table by december and doesnt look like any signings will be coming - then I would take a serious vie on MONS position

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

Support is for life. If not, then go and watch Man City or one of the big 4 and 'support them' from afar!!!!

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'?

Again, his transfers need to be beneficial and worth while. His man-management skills are without doubt good but strategically can be questionable. Basically if he screws up in the transfer window and plays Miner at right back again, thats when he needs to sort it out!!

Have we already reached it?

To an extent - however, he has time to sign players and get his squad in order.

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  • VT Supporter

......I was highly delighted, when we signed Martin O'Neill for reasons that reminded me of Ron Saunders.

I don't know Martin O'neill as a person as i didn't know Ron Saunders so I can't support them unconditionally by their persona ..... I can only support them by their working decisions and the actions they take.

Ron Saunders was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but by and large his decisions were feasible and his actions were reasonable.

I find at times Martin's Actions and decisions bewildering and as much as I try I just cannot understand the mans thinking..... It is no wonder, some think he is a genuis and some just don't buy it at all.

If I am being truly honest with myself I am desperate for the man to extinguish my doubts i have of his actions in general, but the more comments I read about what he has said.... i find it more difficult by the day.

as an example he is reported as saying in tonights Birmingham Mail that he is bemused at the reaction of fans to his team selections and that aston villa need to get used to the rotation system.... a bit rich on the back of a previous article which said he did not realise how few changes he made to his team until he went to an FA meeting and the stats were produced and reported that Aston Villa were amongst the teams who made the fewest changes during 2008-2009 season.

that is just an example of rea-active as opposed to Pro -active.

He also comments that the Moscow fiasco was blown out of all pro portion to a mind blowing degree.... something else i disagree with him.It is the supporters rights to voice their opinion, where I or Martin O'Neill agrees with them or not is immaterial..... his comments are commensurate with an O'Leary line IMO.

Folk mention the 11th - 6th - 6th league positions and they are right its commendable but like the top four supporters we are looking for sustainablity, they have got it to a degree we are juggling with it.... and on the back of 16 games with 2 wins ( 15 games last season- 1 this season that sustainability is looking in jeopardy.

some folk say the fans have been un kind to him..... 20 winless games in his first season- not a peep out of the faithful and 15 winless games on theback of a 3rd placed position and still he has them loyal..... its only during this summer after losing 2 talismen the doubts are startin to creep in.

My suspicion is this(on the back of just some of my doubts) if you were the Manager and Martin O'Neill with his level of intelligence was a fan, would you expect him to be loyal to you or do you think he would be challenging you on some of your actions/decisions?

I don't think he would be quite so forgiving.

Oh and i don't subscribe to this theory of waiting until 31st August to see if we get the desired level of signings, before forming your opinion.... I think the die has been set and even if he does get them,we have been playing russian roulette, during the summer and i don't think top managers play russian roulettewith their team building programme...I'm sorry guys i just don't buy it.

Some teams around us have not bought i hear the cry, but some teams around us do not have the same need..... and anyway I never heard the top four over the years say " there is no need to buy because the villa havn't bought yet" .... they just ignore us and do what they know is right for them.

In answer to your questions ....I do not want to go through the disruption ( and it is immense in such circumstances) of changing managers, but I do want desperatly for Martin to Succeed......I'm only hoping he can

.....but I'm sceptical.

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I am only now starting to question the manager.

Selling a centre half, already having lost one to retirement, and not getting a replacement is **** ludicrous.

As is having almost 3 months to assemble a squad for the new season, but two games in we are woefully short of at least FOUR players with eleven days left to rectify it.

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

Initiall at the end of the window if there are no further additions of quality. Anymore mediocrity and I'll doubt his ability to obtain the type and quality of player to improve the team. This assumes he has the money available of course. Beyond this, after 10 games, if we are mid or lower table, my belief in MON will diminish.

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

I'll always support the club and team, as long as the players perform to their best. It didn't look like they did in Vienna.

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out', Surely your support only goes so far?

He needs to show more flair in his tactics and strategy and stop playing people out of position. After some good displays in Spain, he reverts back to the old favourites for Wigan and then some other piecemeal changes last night. If there are no new squad members of better quality by September 1, it may be too late for this season.

Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is. Have we already reached it?

Not reached it yet, but could be getting close. His after match comments make me think I've been at a different game. My support for the club will remain, but a change in manager may be the only option if performances don't improve.

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At what point would you start to re-think your position on Martin O'Neill?

End of the window will begin to see my opinion change if things do not materialise. I have faith that he can bring in players and I've never bought this idea that he's sat on his arse doing nothing. I think we'd hoped to have players in by now and clearly, something's gone wrong. I don't especially think he's dithered. However, if players do not turn up at the club, I'll begin to reconsider my position not only on O'Neill, but of the Lerner regime as well. My thinking right now is 'The man isn't stupid, he knows he needs players. If he can't get them then theres something beyond his control thats stopping him'. If things dont change, that'll become the same with added bite, with the addition of 'and Martin needs to realise he has to work through these issues and if that means he needs to look at players he wouldn't normally (i.e. further afield) then so be it'.

How far does your support go at a critical time in our (and other teams') chase for the top 4?

As far as the club goes, I'm a Villan if we're winning the league and I'm a Villan if we're relegated.

As for support of O'Neill with regards to a top 4 chase (I'm assuming the question in this context means 'We're chasing the top 4 and not getting it, sack the manager?') then as far as I'm concerned, top 4 right now is far off goal. We're in a marathon for it, not a sprint. We're in training now for the run on the top 4 race in a few seasons. Until we're ready we'll be in the chase for top 6 year on year. I've accepted this and am happy that that is the case with the long term goal of top 4 in mind. I feel others need to as well. With that in mind, O'Neill retains my support so long as we look to be hoping to build on towards that goal. I've accepted that this season, barring miracles, is a season we'll dropping off, but provided he's still building that side he has my support.

What does Martin have to do (or not do) before you begin allowing yourself to think 'Hold on a second Martin sort it out'? Surely your support only goes so far? Only goes to a point? I want to know what that point is. Have we already reached it?

My support goes when we significantly fail. If we spend much of a season bottom half looking hopeless, his buys not performing consistantly (or he really starts to take the piss with signings, I mean really dire players on big fees) and crucially for me anyway, looking like we don't believe anymore (which frankly, this seasons 2 games aren't instilling any hope in that belief for me) then I'll not be backing him like before. If we start to unnecessarily sell the teams assets then my faith in the whole regime will be gone. By unnecessarily I mean, for example, a sale of Ashley Young to a rival for anything other than a silly fee, unless he becomes a problem.

As things stand now, I think O'Neill is still the one for us, he's delivered year on year. He's not excited, he's not been glamourous, but he's got the results come May and thats enough for me. I'd prefer better cup performances but they're always a bit of a lottery. I'd prefer a better squad as well but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure he'll come through with signings before the end of the window so I'm not especially worried about that, and I'll not demand names or massive fee's either so long as they peform on the pitch or give the impression to me that they can. But he still has my backing for now. All could start to change after the window though.

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mon is a good manager so good he isnt telling us the full situation . i think the global recession has squeezed the learner spending power and he cant afford the big money signings and wages . mon also suits learner bringing young lads in and over acheiving hence making a profit

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