Martin O'Neill: From Hero To Villain

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill resigned from his post, just days before the English Premier League begins its season.

“I have enjoyed my time as Aston Villa immensely. It’s obviously a wrench to be leaving such a magnificent club. I would like to pay tribute to the Villa players, my coaching staff and the Villa supporters for all the support and encouragement they have given both the club and me personally during my time as manager,” O’Neill said on Villa’s official website.

Since taking over as Villa’s boss in 2006, O’Neill has brought the club to European competitions twice, including three straight sixth place finishes. The timing could not have been worse for the Birmingham-based club.

James Milner is said to be on his way out of Villa for a Manchester City switch, and Ashley Young is supposedly exploring options for a transfer as well. With a couple of Villa’s top players looking elsewhere, success this season appears bleak. It will be hard to attract a top quality manager at this time and even harder to reel in replacement players of Milner and Young’s class.

Simply retaining the current squad may be difficult to do at this point. Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar was rumored to be interested in a Villa switch, as was Manchester City’s Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Players reported looking for an out are Nigel Reo-Coker, Nickey Shorey, John Carew, Stilian Petrov and Luke Young.

Uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the club may see the moves out but could impair any efforts to bring in players. While Aston Villa suffers the repercussions of an abrupt change in staff, the Premier League likely loses a prime competitor in European soccer.

Villa is one of just four English clubs to be crowned champions of Europe in what is now known as the UEFA Champions League, but that was in 1982. Though the club experienced a bloom of success in recent years, Villa’s road ahead is not pretty.

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