Sunday, July 8, 2007

Forget Arsene Knows, Martin O'Neill Knows

Shhh. If you listen very closely you can hear Martin O'Neill quietly putting together a very good squad at Aston Villa. Flying under a Premiership radar clogged by Arsene and Henry, United and Tevez, 'Pool and Torres, and Big Sam and every bargain buy on the market; Martin O'Neill has been carefully crafting a young, well-balanced team that looks more than capable of qualifying for Europe. I've always been a fan of Martin O'Neill, rarely ever makes a mistake in the transfer market and success follows wherever he goes (pictured above is what you call a TREBLE).

The latest piece iin O'Neill's masterplan is young Nigel Reo-Coker, signed from West Ham this past week for about 8 million pounds. Reo-Coker is a 23 year old central midfielder and was captain of the England U-21's (he is no longer eligible for the 21's). At such an early stage in his career, Nigel managed 120 caps in 3 years at Upton Park and was club captain for most his time there. He was also captain at Wimbledon before coming to West Ham. Hmm something tells me this boy has great leadership abilities. Detractors will say that he didn't perform like a captain this season and didn't have his heart in it. With the circus that is West Ham--changing managers, changing owners, Tevez and Mascherano, court hearings and oh yea playing for a shit team that avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth--can you blame him for having an off season? Change of scenery, change of fans more importantly, and playing under O'Neill should do wonders for him.

Reo-Coker joins a team boasting some of the best young English talents in Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor, Luke Moore, Liam Ridgewell and Gary Cahill. Villa also have some real studs like captain Gareth Barry (aka the best left foot England has), vice-captain and defensive stalwart Olof Mellberg (I like to call him Castaway), midfield maestro Stiliyan Petrov, and Norwegian hitman John Carew.

Speaking of Carew, Martin O'Neill deserves a great deal of credit for making the deal to get this guy. I mean it's a feat in and of itself to find a team that actually wants Milan Baros (suckers), but to do that AND get John Carew in exchange? Wow, just might be the best transfer of the past season if they can persuade Carew to stay.

With a couple more signings possibly on the way (Jason Koumas or Nigel de Jong maybe, who I really like) and strong squad already, mark my words, Villa will improve upon their 11th place finish last year and qualify for Europe. Prediction: 6th place.

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