Monday, 17 January 2011

Bent buy backs Houllier, belittles O'Neill

Five months after Martin O'Neill quit Aston Villa on the eve of the season, jilted ex-boss Randy Lerner's issued him with an almighty £18m swipe by signing Darren Bent.

Inspector Clueless: but Houll have the last laugh?
Villa's owner has shown just what he thinks of O'Neill sensationally walking out five days to the start of the campaign. Whether witting or unwitting, Randy's demonstrated how he takes no prisoners in business.

While backing Gerard Houllier to the hilt this transfer window, O'Neill, known to be a fan of Bent, quit alleging a lack of funds.

Some in the media suggest the Villa board have made a huge financial plunge against their instincts. Staring an unexpected relegation battle in the face, they see Bent's arrival as an act of desperation.

I don't see it like that. Randy and Chief Executive Paul Faulkner get top marks for the additions they've made to the squad this transfer window.

Villa's frantic but crafty dealings show how fractious and dysfunctional the relationship between boardroom and manager's office had become - and sheds light on the near malicious departure date O'Neill elected to make. He left scant chance for Villa to sign anyone after his departure. The team dropped like a stone.

Though Houllier's first four months have been hair-raising for Villa's faithful, The Frenchman's been brave enough to blood youngsters by the half-dozen - adding to the squad very successfully in the window.

Bent: Darren's a model
Marc Albrighton, Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Chris Herd are forging first-team berths as Houllier assembles a squad of depth and experience. That's a first at Villa for over a decade.

Kyle Walker's been very impressive since his loan arrival from Tottenham, while Lyon's Jean Il Makoun is a player of Chelsea or Manchester United calibre.

Now Darren Bent's arrived from Sunderland in a sensational record breaking £18m transfer, rising to £24m.

Thoughts of going down are eradicated in an instant. The season's not over until May and Villa have one of English football's proven goal poachers to call on. The prospect of partnerships with Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor - even Emile Heskey, set Holte Enders drooling.

Avram Grant: West Ham history sooner or later
So as Avram Grant's issued a stay of execution at West Ham, just how can mute O'Neill feel? Silenced by the terms of his severance at Villa, he can't even comment on the fact that Mr. Lerner had huge reserves all along.

Tainted O'Neill is outed as a man that football's ruling class can't work with, while life carries on as normal at Villa Park.

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