3 Jun 2010

LFC needs a *motivator*, and MARTIN'O NEILL is the man to replace RAFA BENITEZ

On the 30th May 2004 (before Rafa Benitez was appointed), I wrote a post on ThisIsAnfield.com arguing that Martin O Neill should get the Manager's job ahead of Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho. 6 years later and my view has not changed; and now that Benitez is finally leaving, the need for a manager who is able to inspire and motivate is more pressing than ever.

I have posted variations of this article several times over the years, and my message remains the same: There is only one candidate for the Liverpool job, and that is Martin O'Neill.

Regular visitors to this site over the years will know how passionately (and regularly!) I have argued in favour of his appointment, and I know that he is the preferred choice of the Anfield hierarchy. O'Neill is also the bookies current favourite to take the job.

The key point here about O'Neill is this: wherever he has managed, he has taken the team as far as it is realistically possible to go (taking into account players at his disposal, transfer budgets etc).

What O'Neill's detractors fail to accept is context: You have to consider the quality of teams he's managed; the money available; the quality of player the team is able to attract; the status of the team etc. The, you need to ask an important question: What is the best his teams could hope to achieve? (Given their relative status/resources etc). Looking at things fairly, you will see that O'Neill has regularly done the best it is possible to do at every club he's managed.

Wycombe Wanders

Took them out of non-league football and into Division 2 (via successive promotions) in under 4 years. For a club of Wycombe's size, the best they can ever realistically hope for is Division 2, which is borne out by the fact that since O'Neill left, they have never risen higher than that.

Leicester City

Promoted to the Premier league in his first season, after which they finished ninth in 1997, tenth in 1998 and 1999, and eighth in 2000, outstanding results for a newly promoted team, and the highest that Leicester City could ever hope to climb in the top league. In fact, their league positions were arguably an overachievement.

O'Neill also took Leicester City to the League Cup final 3 times in 4 years, winning twice along the way, a by-product of which was European football in the UEFA Cup.

Liverpool fans may scoff at the league cup, but as I stated earlier, you have to consider the context, quality of the team/players, and the resources available.


In O'Neill's first season, Celtic won the domestic treble. He was the first Celtic manager to take the team into the revamped Champions League, something he achieved three times. He also took Celtic to the 2003 UEFA Cup Final in Seville, which was lost in extra time to a Porto side coached by...José Mourinho.

In his five seasons at Celtic Park, O'Neill won three League titles, three Scottish Cups, and a League Cup. He also oversaw a record 7 consecutive victories in Old Firm derbies, and in season 2003-04 Celtic created a British record of 25 consecutive victories.

Very impressive stuff. Yet people will tear this down by saying 'but it's only Scottish football'. Nonsense. As Celtic Managers post-O'Neill have discovered, you can't just turn up and expect everything to click into place - it takes managerial expertise, something O'Neill has in abundance.

Once again, O'Neill took a club to the very maximum of what they were capable of achieving. Is it realistic to expect a club like Celtic to win the Champions League? No. It hasn't happened in over 40 years, so there's no shame in Celtic's failure to win or reach the latter stages under O'Neill. The best a club of Celtic's stature/resources can hope to achieve is exactly what O'Neill achieved.

Aston Villa

Villa had the longest unbeaten start of any Premiership side in 2006-07 (9 games), not losing a league game until 28 October. Villa's final points tally was 50, an improvement of 8 over the previous season.

Villa just missed out on a UEFA Cup spot on the final day of the 2007-08 season by finishing 6th. They scored 71 goals, (their best ever tally in the Premier League and best tally since winning the title in 1981), gained 60 points which was Villa's highest points tally since the 1996-97 season, and were the 3rd highest goalscorers.

After 25 games of the 2008-09 season the club was third in the table on 51 points, 2 points above Chelsea on level games and 7 points above Arsenal in 5th place and on course for a place in the Champions League for the first time since 1983. Villa eventually finished 6th for the second season running with 62 points, 2 more points than they finished with the previous season.

In the season just finished, O'Neill continued his great work at the Villa, leading them to 6th place...ABOVE Liverpool.

Given the cash available to the top 4 clubs in England, is it realistic for Villa to establish themselves in the top 4? Arguably, no. So far, O'Neill has taken Aston Villa almost as high as it is possible for them to go in the league.

Villa: A second-tier team

Whether O'Neill's detractors choose to accept it or not, Villa is a second tier team, in the same bracket as the likes of Everton, Birmingham, Spurs and Manchester City. Villa cannot attract the like of Torres, Drogba, Arshavin etc - it can only attract lower grade players, the likes of Carew, Petrov etc. That is nothing to do with O'Neill, it is just the way Villa is perceived.

For over 25 years (until O'Neill arrived) they have been a mid-table team, even flirting with relegation on occasion. Why would the world's top players ignore man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to go to Villa, who has never qualified for the Champions League?

As such, O'Neill operates within certain restrictions. However, despite this, he has still managed to take Villa above Liverpool in the table.

What I am trying to get at here is this: O'Neill has a knack of taking every team he manages to apex of what they are able to achieve, and he uses the style of football that is inherent in that team to achieve success. Look at it another way: Given the expectations/resources available, could any other manager have done any better at Leicester, Wycombe, Celtic, or even Aston Villa?

At Liverpool, I have no doubt at all that O'Neill would take the club to the apex of what it is able to achieve. He would bring three magic ingredients to the party that Benitez (IMO) seriously lacks: Effective man-management, motivation skills and the ability to INSPIRE.

Liverpool does not need to rebuild; the club does not need to throw tens of millions at the problem. First and foremost, what is needed now is a manager who will maximise the massive potential of the current squad, whilst adding 2-3 astute, quality additions to enhance areas of the team that are currently lacking.

Liverpool has not had a motivator in the hotseat since Kenny Dalglish. Graeme Souness definitely wasn't a motivator; Roy Evans did his best but was a bit of a pushover; Houllier and Benitez were/are definitely not motivators. There is definitely a correlation between Liverpool's lack of league success and not having a motivator at the helm.

If Liverpool miss out on O'Neill this time then he will inevitably be snapped up by Manchester United at some point, and that will signal another period of domestic dominance for them. The club cannot allow this to happen!

I truly believe O'Neill would rather come to Liverpool anyway. At United, he would have the intense pressure to continue their success. If he won the league there, it would be expected, and he probably wouldn't get the credit for it anyway as people would say it was Ferguson's squad/influence etc. There is (arguably) a greater challenge in *creating* success than simply maintaining it, something that I think O'Neill would find attractive.

At Liverpool, O'Neill would have the chance to really make his mark on a top club. The challenge is greater and arguably more rewarding, especially given the club's failure to win the league for 20 years. And if you look at his career, he tends to gravitate towards clubs that have gone stale and are in need of serious rejuvenation.

That is Liverpool to a tee.

Granted, O'Neill is not a name that sets pulses racing, but was Bill Shankly? Bob Paisley? Joe Fagan? What had any of those three achieved in football (managerially) prior to managing Liverpool? Every time we've had a manager who comes with a big reputation the result has been (comparative) league failure: Souness, Houllier + Benitez. The exception is Dalglish, who had a big reputation as a player, but no managerial experience.

On a related note, Both Ferguson and Wenger were not big names that set pulses racing either when they joined their respective clubs. Ferguson was in the SPL; Wenger was in Japan (!) And what about Spurs with Redknapp - he'd never managed a 'big' club before, and look what happened.

The Redknapp case proves - IMO - the impact a motivator can have at a club. Before he arrived at the club, Spurs were flirting with the relegation zone. One season later and they're in the CL. They don't have players of the class of Torres, Gerrard, Reina, Mascherano etc - they have a decent squad, but Redknapp deserves all the praise - he motivated that team and look where it took them.

The same will happen with O'Neill at Liverpool, of that I have no doubt.

The Liverpool FC revolution began in 1959 with the ultimate motivator at the helm. Fifty years later and the true spirit of Shankly has almost been eradicated. It's time for rejuvenating change; it's time for Liverpool to drop the dry, joyless 'tactical' approach; it's time for the true spirit of Shankly to return.

And that means having a motivator and an inspirer in charge at Anfield.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. No thanks.  I maintain, Louis Van Gaal.  Been there and done it in three countries.

    O'Neill would be a massive gamble.  Plus, why would he want to leave stability for instability?

  2. no thanks...MON is not the man IMO.

  3. Then why would Van Gaal leave Bayern for Liverpool? It's as stable as it gets.

  4. Don't agree Jamie. O'Neill plays stone age direct football from the 1980s. That's all he knows. Tell me one "world class" player he has ever scouted or bought? Milner is not and never will be world class. O'Neill's "coaching staff" would make Torres, Gerrard and Mascherano laugh. Motivation only gets you so far.

    O'Neill would immediately buy a big donkey for up front. He has spent a lot of money at Villa yet Harry Redknapp surpassed him in 2 years and got 4th. I'd prefer happy Harry to O'Neill.

    Hiddink, Rijkaard or Deschamps for me. They understand top level football and have global reputations to attract top players. O'Neill would be low on my list. He doesn't buy good players and he doesn't play good football.

  5. Interesting article Jamie.  I certainly agree that motivation is a quality i would be looking to bring into the club in the new manager.  There also a number of other qualities that i would be looking for, some of which O'Neil has and others i'm not so sure of.  I think Premiership experience is quite key as we have to be looking for instant results as opposed to building a 5 tyear plan.  O'neil obvioulsy has this.  I would like to see attractive/expansive football offered as well.  I'm less sure O'neil offers this but i agree that he tends to use what he has available so perhaps this would be different.  As good Villa were this season, i don't think they played particularly good football despite a number of 'quality' players at his disposal.  TTheir success this season was built on a superb defence and an effective counter-attacking style complimented with excellent set-pieces.

    I also think that a proven winning mentality is required.  I certainly agree with those who be-little the SPL because it really is second rate competition in comparison to the other top leagues.  But neverthe less, while in Scotland you can only win the SPL and he did this regularly so i would at least like tot hink he knows what is required to close out a title when in front with 5 games to go say.

    Overall, i think O'neil is certainly a worthy contender and would not be too disappointed to see him in charge.  I do however, think there are other candidates that could be considered, notably Hiddink.  Although u believe his appointment would be extremely complicated having agreed to manage the Turkish national side.  Slightly contardicting my points above, i actually quite rate the recently sacked Real Madrid manager Pellegrini who did wonderful things at Villareal and played some outstanding football with an unfashionable side.

    One final point regarding O'neil which it hink is worth noting.  He tends to buy familiar and British players which could be a good thing for us.  he likes to take players with him and i imagine that if he did come in then players such as Young and Milner would be his prefered players, if not straight away, then at least at some point!  Mind you, that could mean us re-signing Heskey!  But seriously, he would certainly be looking at the English market i feel which id ont think would be a bad thing at this moment of time.

  6. The major issue I've got with O'Neill is his use of the squad or lack thereof; as he brought in quite a few players to Villa over the last few seasons but for whatever reason just seemed to stick with pretty much the same 11 week in-week out, even when results would take a downturn.

    Rafa went from the extreme of random rotation in his early years to this same method of team selection this year, with all bar a few players (typically left midfield and left back) pretty much guaranteed a starting place regardless of their individual or the team's performances.  We need a manager that is prepared to drop under-performing players and that doesn't just look to fit square pegs into round holes so as to keep certain players in the team.

  7. What did Martin O Neill do to you for you to have a 6 year erection over him?>

  8. What a load of fucking claptrap.

  9. i agree the players need motivation, i just wish whoever takes over from benitez will maybe get some liverpool legends to talk to the players, show em what it means to wear the liverpool shirt! this season was a disgrace

  10. <span>

    So you were tired of the 'soulless' going back to the Houllier years yet you want to bring in the Irish equivalent. Big front man with pacy striker. Check. Pack the midfield with grafters. Check. Employ speed merchants on the wing. Check. Forfeit possession in favour of the long ball. Check. O'Neill is not the answer but then, I don't even know what the question is whilst these remain in charge.

  11. Now I am totally convinced that, YOU ARE INSANE!....Martin O'Neil???...give us a break...Villa Fans, will cry with JOY if thay see the back of him, haven't you been reading their blogs???????.


  12. Complete and utter crap. O'neil is dated. Hehas never handled world class players, he would be a masive backward step.

  13. The second issue with bringing in O'Neill at this current point in time, is that he may not be as much of a draw as some of the more recognisable managers to the marquee players that we need to be bringing in right now.  Each of the teams currently above us has the advantages over us of either; more money to offer/greater club stability/Champion's League football/or a highly recognisable manager across Europe.

    We are banking solely on the name of Liverpool FC to attract players now, and that will be enough for some (e.g. Turan would still probably be interested) but for others the draw of a bigger name manager would make a big difference. e.g. would players like Silva be attracted by the pull of O'Neill being in charge of Liverpool without CL football on offer, as much as they would if it was somebody that they already know and respect for his achievements across Europe (whether as a player or as a manager) like a Riijkaard?  

  14. Is this the same source as advised you on the Rafa situation. Im ok with MON coming but want new owners more

  15. theycallmemrBurt12:45 pm, June 03, 2010

    Martin O'neil knows one market, the English market.  He hasn't got a clue.  Anyone who says Ashley Young is as good as Lionel Messi doesn't deserve to live lol. :-D   His scouts are based in England and are not allowed to cross the border under any circumstances.  Martin O'neil would be a bad move for 3 reasons

    1) English players baring Joe cole and Adam johnson have absolutely no flair whatsoever
    2) we can't afford to buy British because they are way overpriced and way overated.  
    3) His style of football i even more boring than Rafas'. (plus he paid 12mill for stewart Downing.)

  16. O'neill plays that style of football because that is what the team's he has managed require.  O'Neill adapts to the TEAM.  Villa are never going to be able to compete with the likes of LFC, United, Chelsea etc in the transfer market, so he buys players that fit the standing of the club.

    And the cliche of O'Neill always buying a target man is nonsense.  Henrik Larrson was hardly that at Celtic, was he?

    People are making generalisations: O'Neill would adapt his method at Liverpool.  He would instantly have better players and more money, thus his approach would be different.

  17. A motivator?

    Pride, passion, blah blah blah. O'Neill is tactically mediocre. Hence his inability to get Celtic out of the Champions League Group Stage once. Something that Strachan achieved with less money and worse players.
    If you are going to tout a manager, at least lay in tactical terms what he would bring to a team.

  18. theycallmemrBurt12:47 pm, June 03, 2010

    Go get me Rijkaard from Turkey he's sitting waiting to be plucked.  4-2-1-3 all the ay baby!!

  19. Please explain why O'Neill is tactically mediocre - you've just made cliched generalisation, whilst ignoring the fact that he took Celtick to the UEFA cup final.

    Given the comparative wealth/quality of other teams in Europe in STRONGER leagues, expecting Celtic to progress in the CL is nonsense.

    In one breath, people like you complain that the Scottish league is crap, then you say that Celtic should do better in the Champions League, playing against teams from the biggest quality leagues on the planet!

    Do you not see the dichotomy there?

  20. Guus Hiddink is the man for the job motivator and tactically astute with bags of experience managing in different countries and managing big egos at international level. He will command the respect of all the players Oneill wont! Fact! 

  21. Exactly what I just wanted to reply.

  22. Jay - The pool of actual quality players available to O'Neill is much smaller than the likes of LFC, Arsenal, United etc.  Villa's first team has some decent players.  The bench does not contain the quality that we can put on the bench though, does it?  As such, is it not normal for O'Neill to play his best players as often as possible? The alternative is to replace them with players of much less quality.

  23. Quite easy to say 'He will adapt to this or that'. Will he really? Has he ever managed a club of the stature of Liverpool? Dont throw Celtic at me because the pressures in the SPL are in no way comparable to the Premiership. Quite frankly, this is your personal agenda against Benitez that is coming out here mate. Quite boring really...

  24. I am a little unsure about martin oneill but one thing i do like about him 
    he buys players that for one are english, two, he is quoted as saying 
    he doesnt buy foreign players because he doesnt no the market. 
    This is a good thing in my eyes because what little money we have
    to spend will not be wasted and players wont be able to hide behind
    new country, language barrier, etc. 

    Am i right in believing that martin oneill only has a rolling 12 month
    contract. And does anybody no when this runs out. This is another
    reason why he might get the nod with no severance payment to villa

  25. Give it to Carra he would put the HEART back in the club - Like they did with The KING - put someone to help in behind the scenes

  26. <span>MON is not a bad manager at all, but we dont want average or very good, we want the best and a potential manager that can bring us back to our past glory. 
    I know your over the moon that it appears that rafa is leaving, well.....look at the state of us...no money, club being sold hopefully before the next world cup.... 
    what top manager would want to come to us now anyway? especially knowing that new owners may want to put there own man in charge. 
    The thing about MON is, how he really ever done it? yes i know your argument about villa second tier bla bla bla, but what about celtic? they never did anything in champs league at all, they had funding and some attraction for top players. 
    And more importantly, are you really saying that he is one of the best managers in the world?  you say rafa is crap, but his career success totally outshines anything that MON has done, and yes im talking about his success with valencia here...
    Are you able to think maybe your wrong? or are u still the JK that is always right?


  27. The owners are selling, what more do you want from them?

    Soon we will have a new manager and new owners will follow.

    Whether it be O Neill or whoever, I just hope all of those who didnt want Rafa to leave give the same support to our new manager that has been given for the last six years to Rafa. 

  28. This is such a pointless argument.

    Who had Shankly, Paisley and Dalglish managed before Liverpool?!

    Who had Guardiola and Blanc managed before Barcelona and Bordeaux respectively?!

    Ferguson had never managed a club of the statur of United before he took over.  Mourinho had not managed a club with the stature of Chelsea.

    The whole argument has no merit.  Experience of Managing a big club is not a pre-requisite for success.

  29. Alan - as Jamie said in the article, you can't expect O'Neill to bring world class players to the likes of Aston Villa and Celtic.  The best you can do at those clubs is uncover gems that none of the big teams are interested in and then hope that you can keep hold of that player once he proves himself as a quality player.

    I do also think that we need a big guy to backup Torres (Cole or somebody like him would fit in the budget and be happy with whatever chances he gets, I think) as there are so many giants in the Premiership nowadays and we just have nobody to match up to them.  It shouldn't be our primary tactic but we do need the option of having a decent quality big man up top

    I do agree with you about the reputation thing being an issue with O'Neill though.  With the lack of CL football and club stability to show prospective signings, a box office manager could make a massive difference in us being able to attract top quality players from across Europe, or not

  30. Good article Jamie, back to your best. Obviously people will disagree but that's the idea of open debate like this!
    I think there are two men who, realistically, can improve us in the way we need. The first of those is O'Neil. Without doubt will get the best out of the players we've got, and will get rid of the dead wood. He always makes shrewd signings with the transfer budget he has (See Dunne, Milner, Young, Cuellar, Freidel....take Heskey away though) and will make us solid again, something we lost last year. He'll also buy good English talent, which will benefit us in the long run what with the new UEFA rules coming into effect.
    The second, and to my mind much much better appointment, would be Hiddink. A truly exceptional coach who has proved time and again that he can cut it at the top, and a name who would set the pulses racing. The two major obstacles in the way though are a. the owners and the uncertainty around that, and b. he likes international footbal, the relative lack of pressure, the pace at which life is lived. I honestly don't think he will ever go back to club management full time (although I pray I'm wrong).
    Those two should be the only two candidates for the job. Hiddink would be 1st choice, although the likely hood is that O'Neil will be much more willing to come to Liverpool.

    Re Van Gaal, I think he is slightly over-rated. Yes he's won the CL and got to the final this year, but lets be honest Robben dragged them to the final despite Van Gaal in my opinion. Look at the way they were demolished by United in that 1st half, and the way they posed almost no threat in the final. I don't think he's got the tactical shrewdness of Hiddink, and I don't think he's a motivator like O'Neil. Lahm even spoke out at it last season. For me Van Gaal would be Benitez mark 2.

    Hiddink please, if not O'Neil. Come one Gillett and Hicks do something positive for us for once!

  31. Well, we didn't exactly play attractive/expansive or good football either last season. I would even go as far as to say that we only played that way the season before. Apart from that Rafa relied on a superb defence, too. Counter attacking? Rafa's no stranger to that either, so all in all these things may stay the same, but O'Neill may be able to motivate the players and he probably wouldn't complain about this and that in the media all of the time. Generally I agree with your comment.

  32. Don't edit my comments.
    They're just as full of substance as your posts.
    I repeat, you're a shitbag.

  33. Please God not O Neill. The man has won nothing, a promotion with wycombe and a league cup or 3 with Leicester. i am not even going to consider celtic, up there it is only a 2 horse race anyway. His teams play direct almost wimbledon esq style of football. He continually plays players out of position and has no tactical awareness. Ask the villa fans they will be rubbing there hands with glee to get rid of him. Also JK you puzzle me sometimes, I appreciate that this is your site and readers dont have to visit or agree with you but for years you have slated the players benetiz has signed and now you tell us that its not all doom and gloom and we only need 2 or 3 players to make us into world beaters.
    As a PS I live and work in Liverpool and there are 2 rumours gathering pace in the city. Dalglish/Rush partnership which would be a disaster and a deal that has already been done to appoint Hiddink (not bad) and his first signing has been made in Joe Cole probably all rubbish but there you go

  34. theycallmemrBurt1:05 pm, June 03, 2010

    since Johnny Barnes went up there my second team is Celtic and O'neil credit to him did a good job up there.  He knows how to structure a sucessfull side.  I personally want to be entertained.  Yeah I want trophies but im bored of being bored.  O'neils sides lack creativity and for years he hs had no answer to this as all his sides tend to have one plan get the ball wide and wip it in. 

  35. Hi Nick - great points.  I would, of course, be happy with Hiddink too.  My personal choice may be O'Neill but there are other managers out there who could also do a superb job. One great thing about Hiddink is his preference for attacking football.  Every team I've ever watched of his plays fluid, exciting football (for the most part), whether it's South Korea, or my personal favourite - PSV Eindhoven.  I remember the CL games against AC Milan in 2004-5. Eindhover absolutely battered Milan.  it was a joy to watch.  They went out but they were some of the most entertaining games I've ever seen in the CL, and that was totally down to Eindhoven's fearless approach.

  36. Disagree. Oneill is decent but I genuinely believe a manager like Hiddink or Van Gaal is what this club is crying out for. World class managers with international experience.

  37. on that basis JK give the job to Carra

  38. I can definitely see our point about O'Neill not being the biggest box office draw.  I guess I just believe in the allure and pull of LFC :)

  39. Hahaha more money!! where the f&*! are you living man!! Tell me who is he going to sell to get your BIG MONEY!! there is no way in hell that H+G are gonna outlay money now especially if they will have to pay the 16mil to close Rafa's contract. (Btw 16mil is what the press are saying so it could be more or less)

    I think that if we get a new manager it should be an Italian very reserved Bold guy which his style of play was always seen as very similar to the one of arsenal & Barcelona.

    Yes guys I'm talking about Spalletti the ex Manager of Roma fc or Cesare prandelli who did wonders with Fiorentina if we can get him out of the contract with the Italian national side!!

  40. compared to other coaches hodgsonv an gaal etc.. oniel is a gamble - his lack of international craft may be an achilies heel, however if he was to land the domestic league for us who wud care about that. not me!
    he does not convince me when u consider the other options.
    and we still have to face upto having low spending power,
    money is the key here
    far more important to rid ouseleves of the american leeches.
    the club needs to conecentrate just as hard on changing the oweners as a new manager

  41. I used to think MON was fit for the job... but after buying Heskey I've started to have my doubts.  That said, his ability to make the most of what he has is pretty impressive.

    Given time, I think MON could do a good job.  But like it or not, I think a bigger name would do more to quell the unrest and that is something I think we need right now.

    Rikjaard gets my vote.  Nice attacking football, stays out of the media spot light, and he would probably improve our chances of getting Arda Turan as well.

  42. I think you make some excellent points for O'Neill as a LFC manager: good motivator, familiarity with league, good man-management skills and getting the optimum from his players. Whilst I don't believe that Benitez is as bad as some make out in terms of his relationship with the players, I must admit that perhaps team morale is so low at present that an excellent motivator could be just one of the traits of a future manager.

    Having said that though, I still remain unconvinced he's the man to take us forward. I think the job of LFC is a poisoned chalice whilst this uncertainty exists and I don't envy anyone coming in with the restrictions/uncertainty.

    For what it's worth, my choice would be Pelligrini. He gets the balance right with expansive football and a solid defensive base, has managed a team of galacticos, he's tactically astute and familiar with working with limited budgets (see Villareal) and perhaps would welcome our type of chaos given his experience at Real Madrid.

    My other concern is the Academy, we have to rely on this increasingly once the stadium work begins. Rafa has employed two excellent coaches from Barcelona and the change in our U-18s in the 2nd half of the season is there to see. Will they stay or will they be tempted to leave - I hope they're loyal.

    These are worrying times for our club and I just worry if the current board have the long-term interests and football experience to make the right decision.

  43. Henrik Larsson had Chris Sutton and Hartson as his target men. O'Neill only knows the old style British game about pure power and pace. His Aston Villa team sorely lacked imagination and technical ability. Once they ran out of energy they were rubbish because they couldn't pass the ball with any intelligence to save energy.

    Harry Redknapp is better than O'Neill. The media boost up O'Neill but his methods and his results are not so impressive. What he did in Scotland means nothing. No one wants  Gordon Strachan because of what he did up there. 

    I'd take O'Neill as a high risk bet. But I have a feeling he would fail miserably. Top 4 would be an achievement for O'Neill.

  44. had to laugh here
    the other day u claimed the german budeliegue was a top place for hypia to still prove his worth and now your claiming oniel has done well getting to a 2nd string euro final! come on perpective please...

  45.    If you compare Rafa's track record before coming to Liverpool, with Oneill, then Rafa will come on top. 

  46. I entirely agree with Jaimie.<span><span><span></span></span></span>

  47. you column makes me laugh...and not in a good way

  48. had to laugh here 
    the other day u claimed the german budeliegue was a top place for hypia to still prove his worth and now your claiming oniel has done well getting to a 2nd string euro final!

    come on perspective please...

  49. You mention the stats of winning early season blah blah blah. But you failed to mention the  last two seasons after christmas the win ratio for Villa was not very good. Which consisted of mainly draws and defeats.

    Also you talk about being a good motivator but Villa only finished two points above us. O'Neill is a good manager but he as found his level.

    It is alright having opinions but the way you put them across it seems he'll come in and we'd win the league.

  50. Exactly, we need a manager with INTERNATIONAL experience. Not a manager whose scouting of players doesn't go beyond England.

    There is something about the way Aston Villa played under O'Neill that makes him look a very limited manager with very limited ideas about the game. We need someone who understands football at the very highest level. HOWEVER, maybe for 1 year until we get new owners we could give O'Neill a chance. He should be able to hit the ground running because he knows the Prem so well.

  51. Actually Mourinho managed Porto before Chelsea also a coach at Barca. In Portagul Porto is respected club. Where Chelsea only become a name when Abramovich toook over

  52. Yes, because that is the fairest way of comparing the potential effectiveness of a manager.

    Again: what managerial track record did Guardiola have?  Blanc?  Paisley?  Shankly?  Dalglish?!

  53. More money? What do you base that on?

  54. Hiddink has turned us down due to the owners. ( good source / player )
    looks like we are going down the english option. 

    martin oneill is a possible if not king kenny will take temporary
    charge if he accepts.

  55. Indirect free kick1:47 pm, June 03, 2010

    You mean the same support JK offered to Rafa Benitez? By his own admission he didn't want RB at Liverpool in the first place.

  56. O'Neill maybe ok until we have to play in March and against Chelsea!

  57. No I mean those who say that the club is F***** without Benitez...

    So what will you do if O Neill does become our next manager?

  58. O'Neill maybe ok and be able to motivate as claimed - that is until we have to play in March and anytime we have to face Chelsea!

  59. If MON was to land LFC the EPL you wouldnt care?

    That is probably why you would still want Rafa here, that way we would never win the EPL and then you would never have nothing to care about...

    longchalk... YNWA!!!

  60. completly agree - has worked with some of the best players in the world

  61. If a motivator is all we need then let's get a cheerleading squad in.

    Motivation alone is not enough. It may get you by in the short term but not in the long run. There is no doubt he is a good motivator but I have concerns with how astute MON is. Many of my friends who are Villa seaon ticket holders do to. There is no plan B. Villa did really well this year to get to the League Cup final and the FA Cup Semis, there's no denying that, but when needed MON didn't have the game plan or tactics to see it through. Fair enough they were playing Man Utd and Chelsea respectively but a more astute manager would set up the team accordingly, instead he went for the normal plan which is pace and power and it didn't work. Motivation alone isn't enough in those circumstances. Eventually we will be back in the Champions League. Can you see MON doing what Rafa did against the likes of Barcelona, Juve, Madrid, Chelsea etc. I can't.

    You'll argue that Villa are "second tier" and it is unfair to compare Liverpool and Villa. I would say Europe is a fairly good barometer. In the Europa cup Villa would have played other teams at a similar level. This season they lost to Rapid Vienna! Last season when they got further into the competition they finished third in their group having lost 2 games out of 4, one of which was to the mighty MSK Zilina at home.

    And when it goes wrong for MON it goes very badly wrong. We beat them 5-0 two seasons ago and even worse Chelsea beat them 7-1 the season gone.

    As for his squad selection. In the past two seasons Villa have suffered because at some point in the season the team burns out, and that is because he doesn't rotate. You'll argue that his squad isn't big enough or have enough depth, but isn't that the manager's responsibility. Even if you can't get enough good players shouldn't you at least have enough decent players to rotate especially when you are in various competitions like Villa were in last season. In my opinion he had decent players but didn't use them. Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Beye, Heskey and Luke Young played a total of 53 games between them. They all have Premiership experience so why weren't they played more often. If he doesn't consider them good enough they why did he buy them?

    As for his man management - did he manage Barry well? Barry wanted to leave, MON played hardball and in the end lost him for less money a season later. What about the Reo-Coker situation? MON managed him so well that he attacked him allegedly. Anyone else hear about a manager physically fighting with his players this season.

    Don't get me wrong, I like MON but i don't think he is an improvement on Rafa. We need someone who can be both a good motivator but also tactically astute. MON isn't that man.  

  62. Given your predilection for ripping apart Benitez' transfer dealings - here's a link to Martin O' Neill's. I'm not saying anything...


  63. chelsea got into the champions league before abramovitch took over...........

  64. all over the radio today jamie, kenny and rushie to take over interim until the takeover is complete?? thats what talksports graham beacroft is saying......

  65. Maybe he will change his approach to suit better players. I think I'd rather have someone with a track record of actually doing so rather than Martin O'Neill though. I don't have anything but disappointment that we can get rid of a manager who is apparently good enough for the european champions while we are looking at M O'N and Hodgson. Clear step or two backwards in my opinion.

  66. Nothing to rip apart - O'Neill has bought some very good players, and got rid of a lot of dead wood.

  67. i agree!  our failure to play attractive/expansive football in the last 11 years really under Houllier/Rafa i have tolerated because i always believed in the coaching styles of both managers, but if we are changing managers as we are, then i would like to think that we can also change approach and become a lot more asthetically pleasing!  I hope anyway!

  68. well i certainly was a Rafa supporter and will be sorry to see him go.  although i accept the club needed freshening up and if that cant be done on the playing side, then i agree a change in manager is a good idea.  And to your point, i will certainly give my backing to whoever is in charge.  Obvioulsy i have my favourites and people i would like to see more than others, but regardless of the appointment, i will give full support and continue to travel home and away to watch the team in action!

  69. And Benitez didn't do the same...?

  70. No.  He wasted tens of millions on patently unsuitable players and padded the team without countless sub-standard players over the years.

    O'Neill has bought 28 players in his time at Villa. 24 are still at the club.

  71. No.  He wasted tens of millions on patently unsuitable players and padded the team with countless sub-standard players over the years. 
    O'Neill has bought 28 players in his time at Villa. 24 are still at the club.

  72. please not O'Neill3:32 pm, June 03, 2010

    MON is a good manager but to phrase Dunphy he's not a great manager. His brand of football is pretty much a variant of the long ball with more skillful players. His Celtic team was good but was painful to look at. I was at a good few Celtic games when he was in charge and to call it functional would be too kind. As for Villa I absolutely abhor them,They are boring,one dimensional and filthy. He has some very skillful players there but yet most of their goals arrive from set pieces.
    Benitez's time is up but Liverpool surely could do with a manager who knows something about attractive football.

  73. Fair point, re: turnover of playing staff. Though I would say that O'Neill (just as every top manager does) has wasted tens of millions on unsuitable players. Villa play the worst kind of football in the premiership - and that includes the dross that we've turned out on and off for the past 10 years - and I don't want to see him come in and do the same to us.

    That said, I don't see him coming here anyway with the sweet deal he has under his generous chairman.

  74. Don't want a manager whose team can concede 7 goals in one game!!!

  75. Benitez conceded 6 against Arsenal.  United conceded 6 to Arsenal; 5 to Chelsea.  Arsenal conceded 5 to Man U. Does that make Wenger and Ferguson unsuitable too?

  76. In fairness to the guest, he made some excellent points (you might notice i mentioned Pellegrini's name earlier) and that repsonse is a little uncalled for Jamie.  The difference here is that Rafa AND MON both have previous managerial experience, therfore a comparison is valid if not completely accurate.  Whereas the managers you ahve mentioned on the whole (nptable Blanc, Dalglish and Guardiola) have had NO managerial experience at all.  He is not saying that it is a pre-requisite, but that you could compare both Rafa and MON in their previous work.  And considering he agreed with you for the most part, i dont think your repsonse is particularly helpful is it?

  77. MON's win ratio at Villa is 42%, less than Hughes at Blackburn, Harry at Portsmouth, marginally better than Allardyce at Bolton!

    MON is not the man to replace Benitez, far from it, his appointment would be a disaster. He lacks the vision to scout outside of Britian which is why 95% of his purchases at Villa have ALL been from Britain, the notable exception is Carew who was a proven player at Valencia.

    He did well at Celtic, so what? Gordon Strachan then went there and did much better! Is Strachan therefore a better manager?

    "Villa had the longest unbeaten start of any Premiership side in 2006-07 (9 games)"
    Big deal! So they went unbeaten for 9 games? We went unbeaten for 10 games in 2008-09 season under Benitez.

    MON would get found out very quickly if he took charge of LFC, he's moaning that he's not going to get as much money from Lerner as he's had in the past, and he's had a fortune.

    When are you doing the Aston Villa spend comparison anyway Jaimie? Will make for a very interesting read!

    I'm waiting for it, as it will prove O'Neill's NET spend is greater than Benitez for the last 4 years.

  78. Shankly built a team in a different day and age. All the other took over relatively successful teams. It is easier to maintain success than build it. Paisley built on what Shankly did and later Kenny on what both did. They gained their experience from the Liverpool boot room, Paisley learnt from Shankly as Kenny learnt from Paisley and Fagan

    Guardiola took over a a pretty good Barcelona team which had won the liga in 04/05 and 05/06 and CL in 05/06. Real won the league in 06/07 and 07/08 but Barcelona still had a good team- it just needed tweaking and certain Lionel Messi has helped a bit.  

    Blanc took over a team that had finished 2nd the year before, the next season won the league and finished 6th this season. Went backwards much like Rafa.

    I am in now way taking away from what these managers have achieved but you have to look at each of their circumstances individually. Only Shankly took a team from nowhere and turned them into the best. The others all built on the success.

  79. Rivrav - please illustrate how my response is in any way rude, insulting or offensive. My response is perfectly fine: I made a counted point re the managerial experience of other managers.

    There is no point comparing the Benitez's previous track record with O'Neill.  It is clearly not a valid way of assessing the relative effectiveness of each manager.

    The only fair way to compare Benitez and O'Neill is to look at their whole careers. O'Neill has managed in the lower leagues; so did Benitez in Spain.  They've both managed in the premier league.

    I've done such a comparison, and O'Neill has a higher win% overall:


  80. I wouldn't go as far as saying that JK. He has brought two very good players in Ashley Young and Milner. Dunne, Carew, Collins, Petrov and Friedel are all pretty good. The others are ok, solid players. He's also bought badly on occasion - Harewood, Zat Knight, Heskey and Routledge. In my opinion Downing was also a bad buy.

    Reo-Coker, Shorey, Sidwell, Beye are all decent players but haven't been used properly. Sidwell has only started 33 games in 2 season in all comps. Another example of not utilising your squad properly.

  81. I guess we will now see who will be the new manager!

    Thanks Rafa for your time at the club, time to move on.


  82. I guess we will now see who will be the new manager!

    Thanks Rafa for your time at the club, time to move on.


  83. hiddink has turned us down due to the owners. FACT. move on

  84. This has probably been asked, but why would MON even consider joining LFC? What guarantees can the board offer him? Can they even afford a long-term contract?

    MON won't be coming.

  85. if theres a god out there, Kenny & the board members wont consider MON, Roy Hodgson or Mark Hughes.....WE NEED A PROVEN WINNER.

  86. It was rude because it had a huge taint of sarcasm attached to it.  that's how i took it anyway.  It also ignored the majority of his point which was otherwise very sightful.

    Moving on - i am not one to listen to the gosspi columns or anything but as you may or may not know, Phil Thompson was today in London for a promotion at Bishopgate for our new sponsors.  My friend has just picked him up in his taxi and he told him that Kenny Dalglish will be named new manager with Rush as his No.2 until a new owner has been found.  He was also extremely excited to have a Liverpool legend in his taxi as he is a Liverpool fan himself!

    Just passing on the info which i can see others have also mentioned on here

  87. Between 2004 and 2009:

    Villa spent: 122m
    Liverpool spent: 266m

    O'Neill has bought the kind of players that Villa can attract, and he has done superbly well.

  88. More money than he had to spend at Villa.

    You're just looking at things short-term.  Over 5 years (if he stays that long), O.Neill will undoubtedly have more money to spend than he's had a Villa.

  89. Tactically mediocre - name me one game this season where O'Neill changed his game plan.
    I never said anything about Scotland being not able to compete in CL. No dichotomy there.
    Strachan achieved it. Again, with less money, with less fan support. At a club that had funnily enough been bled dry by O'Neills spending.
    Strachans second season after offloading most of the dross - Celtic qualify for the group stages of the CL for the first time.
    Next you'll be suggesting Strachan as our new manager.
    Critical realism requires analysis of the facts. Not a hopeful punt.

  90. Hiddink Entertaining? Novel thought. O'Neill - Entertaining. Oxymoronic or what.

  91. Of course you're going to say that mate. You're in the pro MON brigade. You won't have a bad word said about him. What do you call it; blind faith? :)

    To be fair I didn't say anything about costs. I am quite aware that we have spent more money than Villa. I also made no comparison to Liverpool players. As you quite rightly say it is unfair to compare Liverpool and Villa considering the varying resources and ability to attract better players. All I said was that I don't agree that he has bought "very good" players, I certainly don't think he has bought superbly and very importantly a lot of Villa fans don't either. You have put Villa in this "second tier" alongside the likes of Spurs and Everton, and I think that both Spurs and Everton have better players than Villa, Pienaar and Arteta for example. I would have Heitinga over Petrov, Saha and Yakubu over Heskey and Carew. Moyes was able to attract them with a limited budget and no CL football. Apart from Milner and A. Young I don't think that MON has bought that well. He's bought pretty well but at the level I think there are better players that could have been brought had he decided to go non-English. I would be slightly concerned about this. If you want quality English players then we are going to have to pay for it, as you know prices inflate for good English players. Can we afford it? If we can't then what is he goin gto buy, as he hasn't given me that much confidence that he can buy well from abroad. Or will we end up with mediocre players like Sidwell, L. Young who are no better than what we have already.

    Anyway, if we do get him I hope he wins something next year so that I can say that he won it with Rafa's team. :-P

  92. Dirkkyutsbarber5:55 pm, June 03, 2010

    Jaimie,do you masterbate to pictures of yourself?you're supposed"inside"knowledge in smugness is very nauseating,you are just a fool like me with an opinion,no more no less,are you an only child perhaps?a sad day for the club for me personally,five seasons of progression followed by one nightmare season doesn't warrant the bullet,he's big n he's fuckin soft stevie mee gets his way in the end,all dat stroppin n sulkin this previous season has paid off 4 him in the end,as well as playin like a poor mans Carlton palmer,part of my love 4 the club has died this last 6 months or so between certain players n so called"supporters",viva rafa,welcome to the anfield hot seat mike bassett,there may be trouble ahead, :'( :'(

  93. once again JK spot on!, not just this article but every article. whether it comes to pass with O'Neil or another. the important thing is weve lanced the pussy boil , now we can heal , its only gonna get better. just like top players, top managers ( hiddink, van haal etc) are in demand, cost a fortune and still fail ( hiddink in russia, van haal in CL final) of course they are better than most, but thats no guarentee of sucess ( just like some top players that have failed to deliver after a big $ move). we have the team, but more importantly we have the history. half the job will be done by the players, whom i'm sure never want a repeat of last season.
    keep up the great work JK, from now on, i'll only be reading your posts.

  94. ...and you were doing so well, albeit by stating the blindingly obvious...BUT....then you went and blew it by claiming the boys at the sty were [quote]" a second tier team"....lost all crdibility with one silly statement.

    Oh well. O'Leary's available I believe....Gissajob.....

  95. As a Villa fan I hope most Liverpool fans continue to disagree with the author of this article who has it spot on. I hope you stay utterly dysfunctional so we can keep O'Neill because if ever you did get him and back him he would become your Fergie. Well said anyway. Up the Villa! (finally looking down on you lot which is justice for the Fat Waiter tapping up Gareth Barry)!

  96. Well, well, well.

    So the Club that gave the World league football, the club that is currently the fourth most successful (and was THE most successful from 1900-1978) is a second tier club?!

    The Club with the most far reaching and influential history in the game is second tier! Are we talking about the former Champions of Europe...The Aston Villa Football Club?  Quite clearly the Dipper who wrote this nonsense doesn't know his football history - thankfully Martin O'Neill does.  He'll not be going anwhere because he is currently attempting to revive English football's ORIGINAL great club.  That is a challenge unequalled in English football.

    In the past twenty five years - despite being hamstrung by Doug Ellis - Villa have indeed flirted with relegation (you'll find out what that is like pretty soon my old son) but they have also finished as high in the Premier League table as Liverpool have ever managed.   Indeed Villa last won the league in '81 and your lot in '90. Swings and roundabouts.

    This has to rank as one of the most laughable and deluded pieces of nonsense I have ever read on a football fans' site.  You're a whopper pal.  A whopper of Toon Army proportions.

  97. Well irrespective of the fact whether M O'N is good or not, accept the FACT that he will NOT come to LFC (not that I personally want that either). My second choice is Roy Hodgson who has managed a club like Inter and would probably like this job too (Rafa staying as LFC manager would have been my first choice)

  98. Why is it a FACT that MON will not come to LFC?  What evidence is there of that?

  99. First M O'N signed a new contract with Aston Villa.
    Plus with the backing and support he has with the board of Villa and that our club is in some state of transition, he would as I imagine have no inclination to join LFC.

  100. Jaimie,

    I will try 1 final time to post my response to your comments.

    You keep censoring them for some unknown reason. They are not malicous, they are not offensive, they are of the current topics. Why? Only you can explain to me.
    I thought the reason for your posts was for people to debate them.

    Right, here goes.

    Martin O'Neil isn't the man for Liverpool F.C in MY opinion because,
    At every club bar Villa ( And only this season ) he plays the long ball game.

    It has never been pretty to watch, not even at Celtic.

    The Scottish league is nearly always a 2 horse race anyway, so it could go 50 / 50 as to who wins the League there !

    O'Neil has had quite a fair bit of money at his disposal during his time at Villa.

    What Benitez's spent over 6 years is what everyone is so obsessed with.
    Are you not like me and were very happy the way the first 3 years went ?

    2 European Cup Finals (1 won) ,Super Cup (won), F.A Cup final (Won) and League Cup final (lost)

    On that basis, judge Benitez's net spend over the past 3 years that most LFC fans have been unhappy about.

    In the last 3 years Rafa has spent less than Spurs, City and Villa and Man United (Net spend) !
    Only Chelsea and Arsenal have a lower net spend. FACT

    Villa, City and spurs spent that money trying to break in to the top 4 of the English Premier League.

    Liverpool under Rafa Benitez in the last 3 years have spent less than City, Villa, Spurs and Machester United whilst actually trying to win the damn Premier League !

    United were already Champions last year, so we were on catch up anyway.

    Lets see how much City, Spurs and Villa have to spend in the next 3 years to try and break in to the top 2 of the Premier League?

    I personally think with the exception of City maybe, none of them will.

    Finally, before Rafa Benitez arrived at Liverpool, when was the last time Liverpool F.C actually made a profit on ANYBODY ?

    It never happens, Rafa had done it several times, before him it was probably Ian Rush, Juventus £3.2m bought back for £2.9m.

    So where as Chelsea, Arsenal and United, Spurs, Villa and even City make loads on players sold, Liverpool hardly ever do, this is not Benitez's is fault, it's just the way the club has been run for 20 odd years.

    So even net spend can be decieving.


  101. ROLFham LOLspur3:31 pm, June 30, 2010

    There goes you M'ON dream ;)

  102. Yes, but Hodgson will also do a good job.  He's cut from the same cloth as O'Neill.

  103. Yes, but Hodgson will also do a good job.  He's cut from the same cloth as O'Neill.