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O'Leary could be next for sack

The Aston Villa manager is in danger of joining Mick McCarthy in the P45-waving manager's club.

Tony Cascarino, 30 Mar 2006



David O’Leary is skating on very thin managerial ice following Aston Villa’s thrashing at Everton who, let’s face it, haven’t been the most free-scoring of teams this season.

David being David, he blamed everything and everybody afterwards for the result except himself.

He moans that he hasn’t been given sufficient transfer funds by Doug Ellis, but the £11 million he’s spent over the past year is far more than Paul Jewell’s had at Wigan or Alan Pardue at West Ham prior to him bringing Dean Ashton in from Norwich. They’ve got 46 and 42 points respectively compared to Villa’s 34, which makes them outside candidates for relegation.

O’Leary’s got three experienced, international strikers – Baros, Angel and Phillips – yet complains about a lack of firepower up front.

What their fans object to, as much as the performances, is this “We can’t expect any better with the resources we’ve got” guff. They’re not in a position to challenge Chelsea or Man U, sure, but a club of their size should be doing a lot better than 16th in the league.

Why hasn’t David spotted the same bargain buys that Paul Jewell, Alan Curbishley or David Moyes have? Part of the modern manager’s job is to set up a proper scouting network that can sniff out a Pascal Chimbonda or an Arjan De Zeeuw.

It’s very telling that when James Beattie left Southampton and had Villa and Everton to chose from, he went for the Goodison Park option because he felt they wanted him more. Whatever vibes David sent out when they sat down and talked were obviously the wrong ones. No player wants to go to a club where the manager has already written off their chances for the season.

A younger, fitter Doug Ellis would have told David to change his tune…or else!

Another manager who could have no complaints if he was sacked is Steve Bruce at Birmingham. The board gave him a lot of money to bring Chris Sutton to St. Andrew’s, and all he’s fired so far has been blanks. You could hardly accuse his other big buys, Jermaine Pennant or Mikael Forsell, of setting the Premiership alight either.

It’s probably too late in the season for either of them to be fired, but I wouldn't be surprised if O'Leary and Bruce find themselves out of a job during the summer.

Another Irishman who’s likely to be looking for new employment come August is Roy Keane. Even if he gets over his injury problems, the SPL doesn't hold enough of a challenge for him to want to remain at Celtic.

What Roy needs more than anything else is a challenge, which you don’t get at the moment even from Rangers. So what if he picked up his first Scottish medal on Sunday? Beating Dunfermline in the C.I.S. Cup and beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League are two totally different things.

He’ll know that unless Gordan Strachan wakes up one morning and finds £30 million on the pillow beside him, Celtic have almost zero chance of making it into the knock-out stages of next season’s Champions League. Childhood Bhoys fan or not, visits to Livingstone and Motherwell won't keep a highly competitive player like Roy Keane fired up.

A man who very definitely was fired up last weekend was Jose Mourinho. Whether it be Leeds, Liverpool or Manchester United, all of the great teams of the past 40 years have been bad losers. If I was a Chelsea fan, I’d much rather see the manager and the players doing their nut than shrugging their shoulders and going, “Ah well, not to worry.” There are far too many £50,000 a week professionals that don’t particularly care if they’re beaten or not, so long as they get their pay-cheque and sponsorship deals.


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