What Would Martin O’Neill Do?
If Martin O’Neill managed any other club in the Premier League, would he be able to achieve more success than the club’s current manager?
What if O’Neill was in charge of Chelsea or Liverpool? Could he do a better job than Scolari and Benitez? I believe he could, by far. Read on to find the answers to WWMD – What would Martin do?
Under the reign of manager David O’Leary from 2004 to 2006, Aston Villa were a dreadful team to watch. Crippled by the tightfisted Doug Ellis and playing an unattractive brand of football, the outlook for the West Midlands side was dire. Martin O’Neill joined Villa as new manager in the summer of 2006. And a few months later, the answer to O’Neill’s prayers arrived when Randy Lerner pried Villa out of Ellis’s grubby hands, and brought a new wealth to the club in the form of transfer signings and a firm financial structure.
In just two years, O’Neill and Lerner have turned Villa around from a sleeping giant into a force to be reckoned with both on and off the field. There’s still a long way to go this season, but Villa’s recent form surpasses the recent dismal goings on at Arsenal and Chelsea, for sure.
It makes you wonder what impact Martin would make at any of the clubs in the Premier League. Given the same amount of money and time that the current managers have had, here’s what the “WWMD” accomplish at:
- Chelsea. Chelsea supporters may bemoan the fact that Roman Abramovich has tightened his purse strings and hasn’t given Scolari the opportunity to bring in major transfer signings the way that Mourinho did, but there’s no doubt that O’Neill would dream of having such a talented pool as the one found at Stamford Bridge. I could see his man-management skills having a lot of success with dissatisfied players such as Joe Cole, Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack. Players would respect him. I can also see the Northern Irishman giving opportunities to some of the B-rated players at Chelsea such as Michael Mancienne and Scott Sinclair (currently out on loan), as well as coming up with a tactical system that would work (whether Drogba and Anelka can play together, and finding a way to make the midfield work effectively).
- Liverpool. For Martin O’Neill to have the same transfer budget as Rafa Benitez would be a dream come true for the Villa manager. Since he took the position at Liverpool in 2004, Benitez has spent millions on players. While he made wise choices by signing Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso, he also has purchased plenty of flops including Morientes, Dossena, Gonzalez, Pennant, Josemi, Nunez and Kromkamp — just to name a few. In comparison, O’Neill has made plenty of shrewd signings including Ashley Young, Brad Friedel, Luke Young and Carlos Cuellar. One other thing about O’Neill. He would never go on the record and risk igniting Fergie’s fire by publicly calling out Ferguson the way Rafa did on Friday. O’Neill would know better. All it did was made Ferguson’s side more hungry and determined to beat Chelsea and set their sights on surpassing Liverpool in the league.
- Arsenal. When given the opportunity to buy players such as Wenger has, the Frenchman has passed on the opportunity or has purchased inexpensive youth players instead for nominal fees. What O’Neill would have done is to acknowledge the weaknesses in this talented side and purchased two to three key players that would have made a profound difference on this team this season. Most notably, O’Neill would have purchased a replacement for Mathieu Flamini, secured a centre back to add steel to Arsenal’s back four such as Martin Laursen from Villa, and would have let moody Adebayor leave in the summer and replaced him with a more consistent goalscorer such as David Villa, a self admitted Gooner.
With Martin O’Neill at the helm, big Premier League clubs would be better. It’s astonishing to think that a bigger English club than Aston Villa hasn’t tried to pluck O’Neill away. To me, he’s the perfect successor to Sir Alex Ferguson when Fergie retires at United. Until then, we’ll continue to marvel at O’Neill’s success at Villa and watch his jump for joy when his side scores, and appreciate the way he hugs his players after matches. I only wish there were more Martin O’Neill’s in the Premier League.