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Where are all the tears?


BOF
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Usually when any manager leaves a football club, some or most of the squad he leaves behind come out in the press and say how they are sad or upset that he is leaving. Yet here we are 4 days after Martin O'Neill walked out on Aston Villa Football Club and there seems to be a distinct lack of mourning at Villa Park.

It's not as if the press haven't been busy asking anyone and everyone what they think about the events on Monday. Consequently, it's not like there aren't plenty of articles from the players on the subject. There are plenty of articles about people being 'shocked' or 'surprised', both by the decision and by the timing of it.

Now we don't yet know both sides on why Martin walked. We know the club's side of the story. The forum posts of General Krulak and the statement by Randy Lerner both steer us towards the conclusion that the problem from their side lay in the fact that the manager needed to manage his wage bill, by not only signing players but by selling them too. However, in the interests of fairness or completeness, until Martin comes out with his side of the story we can not be sure.

But that's not what this article is for.

Now I'm sure, like me, you have been reading any and every article and listening to all of the rumours and stories that have popped up on the net over the past few days. Now you obviously take these with the usual pinch of internet salt, but forums are also full of anecdotes and opinions from players and staff that have come out through unofficial means.

Until I had it pointed out to me, I hadn't noticed that none of the players have come out in the press saying how he'll be missed, how they're sad to see him go etc etc. And it is this above all other hearsay and opinion that is surely the most damning indictement of all. You would assume that a manager with the reputation and mystique that surrounds Martin O'Neill would be badly missed by any club's players if he was there one day and gone the next. You would imagine that even the odd player would be inconsoleable. It would appear from the evidence, or lack thereof, that you would assume incorrectly.

There are always going to be players that are happy with a managerial resignation. Players who are not in the side who may now get a 2nd chance under Kevin MacDonald and whoever replaces him. You would think that players like Curtis Davies, Nigel Reo-Coker & Luke Young would be understandably looking at the forthcoming season with more hope than they were at this point last week. But what of players like Richard Dunne, club captain Stiliyan Petrov, Brad Friedel, Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor? These are the first names on the team sheet. The names who you would assume were quite happy with the manager and who might theoretically have most to lose from a departure. What of their thoughts on the matter? I haven't heard anything from Gabby on the matter, but I've read direct quotes from all of the others mentioned and to a man they do not show any regret that Martin is gone; only a regret of the timing of it.

To add to that and while it might be scurrilous paper talk, we are also getting stories of champagne bottles being texted between players. Not all players, obviously. But some.

There just seems to be a picture building up that it was almost a collective sigh of relief.

That's why I'm thinking this season may not be the doom and gloom that it is being painted out to be. Milner is basically gone; we know that. It is being reported that Ashley Young is happy to stay at Villa. The Stephen Ireland thing is still up in the air at the moment but from all of the above it would appear that morale within the camp will be sky high. So the pundits are right that O'Neill leaving will 'have' to have an impact on the club. I think it might have the opposite impact to what they're suggesting though.

We'll find out tomorrow against West Ham. This is either the best thing or the worst thing that could have happened to Avram Grant's first game in charge.

One thing's for sure. As a keen follower of our reserve side, I can't wait to see Kevin MacDonald get a deserved chance to take control of the first team and I know the first team will give it their all for him. Something that the first team have come out and said is how Kevin Mac is well respected amongst the squad and that they're very comfortable with having him in charge.

I think there might be a very bright light at the end of this particular tunnel provided Randy can bring the right man in.

Up The Villa!

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Great article Brian.

Agree with every word, and with the seemingly imminent transfer of Ireland, thinks could start to look even more rosy. I'm just not sure Bradley would be right for us, who seems to be one of the favourites right now. Huge gamble.

It has become clear though that MON had to go, for the good of AVFC.

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You raise some good point there Bri, where are all the players mourning his loss?

No doubt about it MON did great great work and Villa Park, built a solid team.

We have to now view it as him setting the foundations and thank him for that.

Onwards and upwards.

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Sums up my thoughts perfectly.

As much as I admired many of his traits (and if I had to come down on one side, I was pro-MON), I don't think he was making the best of what he had. His tactics, team selection and transfer policy appeared inflexible and he perhaps wasn't spending money as wisely as he could.

There now appears to be no doubt that he had alienated many members of the squad and has surely left with a significantly damaged reputation.

Thanks for laying a great foundation, Martin. I'm excited now to see someone build on it, bringing fresh ideas and inspiration to the table.

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I think it's important to re-iterate that this is in no way an anti-MON article. It even points out that we need to wait for his side of the story before properly making our minds up. It is simply pointing out that, while we wait for his side, there is no sympathy coming from the people he left behind. And no matter what you think of him or his decision (pro or anti) since Monday, it is a very interesting state of affairs that is hard to explain away.

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Spot on! my Bluenose girlfriend thinks i'm putting all this excitement on for show but its genuine :D If you had asked me before he resigned I would have said I dont want him to go but now! On top of your post about the players there is strangely no back lash on the chairman and strong support from both players and fans for McDonald, the excitement and optimism for Saturday has gone through the roof! this is very much unusual especially considering who we have lost.

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This is a great article. I am surprised that players like Petrov, Gabby, Heskey haven't said anything but I think they probably want to show a display of unity in getting behind KM and beating WHU tomorrow. Maybe post-match we might see some comments.

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Thought provoking stuff BOF and thanks for that.

Departing Villa managers rarely say much on their departures (the old chairman used to insist upon it and they faced losing money if they broke the silence agreement) so the comments that Graham Taylor made after he left second time round were rare in that they were critical of how the club was being run. I think Martin's departure in itself has implied a similar criticism. We may get the story from Martin in Sunday's press or in a later book but I suspect that we will not.

Turning to the squad I think our captain and others will be sorry to see the manager that brought them to the club go but given what seems the likely reason for his departure I would guess they would be loathe to make a statement that might be seen to support the manager who has left and his reasons for doing so which might be taken as a criticism of the man who runs the club, decides our policies and funds their salaries.

I wish Kevin a smooth start to what might or might not be a short stay in the hot seat. Internal promotions do not seem to work as well as might be expected in football management although their are exceptions such as when Tony Barton took over from Ron Saunders and with the onus now it would seem more on bringing players through the ranks than buying them any thoughts on a longer term appointment would need to be balanced against the impact this may have on maintaining the great job that our staff up to first team level have done in recent years.

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Great article Brian.

Agree with every word, and with the seemingly imminent transfer of Ireland, thinks could start to look even more rosy. I'm just not sure Bradley would be right for us, who seems to be one of the favourites right now. Huge gamble.

It has become clear though that MON had to go, for the good of AVFC.

This tbh, i was really shocked/upset when i first heard but since that day the only things coming out are that it may have been a positive and i for one am excited to see what changes are made.

We do though have to remember it sometimes takes a few games to settle in so if we do lose to West Ham i hope we dont have a torrent of threads claiming it was in actual fact the worst thing ever to happen.

Eitherway i'm pleased... for now, manager coming in depending of corse so fingers crossed we have a good season.

UTV!

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The League Managers Chief Exec was on Five Live today suggesting if Randy had been at the end of a corridor at B6 instead of the States, the matter have been resolved between them, but to me, this guy was trying to justify MON's leaving.

As BOF said, until MON tells his side, we are all guessing.

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The League Managers Chief Exec was on Five Live today suggesting if Randy had been at the end of a corridor at B6 instead of the States, the matter have been resolved between them, but to me, this guy was trying to justify MON's leaving.
LMA have one purpose. To defend managers no matter what. That doesn't make MON any more or any less to blame. It just means any input from them can be instantly ignored as being totally biased.

If the best they can come up with is that Randy's location and not his 'club direction' were to blame and if they are also saying that their member did what he did because he couldn't talk to someone face to face then it hardly enhances their member's position :)

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Good article that BOF.

I'm tired now of trying to explain to non Villans why O'Neill leaving our club is imo a good thing, so tired in fact I've stopped and just answer with a grunt when they come out with BS about how we've lost one of the best managers in the league etc etc.

Untill O'Neill drops a bollock at some other club, the public will always think he's some kind of wizz manger that's only fit for a top job.

I can't wait to hear what he comes out with once he breaks his silence.

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There are very few scenarios that would justify a manager walking out a few days before the start of the season.

Especially a man who "couldn't envisage...just throwing the toys out of the pram" and who said "You wouldn't just down tools. It's not been in my nature to do that."

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Really though, how often do players come out and say: "I'm in tears, what a shit situation."?

It was clear that one of our best players, Ash, had a massive amount of respect for him and it required showdown talks to make sure he stayed.

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Good article that BOF.

I'm tired now of trying to explain to non Villans why O'Neill leaving our club is imo a good thing, so tired in fact I've stopped and just answer with a grunt when they come out with BS about how we've lost one of the best managers in the league etc etc.

Untill O'Neill drops a bollock at some other club, the public will always think he's some kind of wizz manger that's only fit for a top job.

I can't wait to hear what he comes out with once he breaks his silence.

Agree 100% with this. This is the most excited I have been in a couple of years going to a Villa game and not knowing what side or tactics to expect. Will be really pee'd off if we get a 4-4-2 with Stan and Sidwell in the middle and the only sub being Heskey for Carew after 80 minutes!!

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