Martin O'Neill talks, maybe he should take time to listen

I'm a fan of Martin O'Neill but I am becoming increasingly frustrated with his excuses and despite him saying they're not excuses, it is like me writing something in one paragraph and going back on it or twisting it in another, it is written and I get picked up on it.

Today it was 'they looked tired' but it isn't an excuse according to O'Neill. Well, we got more points playing 451 last season than we did playing 442 and for the life of me why has he played Heskey over Carew?


The Carew story will gather pace tomorrow and no doubt we will be told he picked up a back strain during the warm up but if you want to know the truth, don't read what we are told, think about it for a minute.

Carew was left on the bench so Heskey could take his place. He was fine when all that was announced, just probably very angry, so he probably, sorry possibly, walked out saying he wasn't going to play second fiddle to Heskey. I'm also told he didn't hobble off after the warm.

If that happened, could you blame Carew? I know it's unprofessional, but could you really blame him?

Anyway, our manager has spoken.

Martin O'Neill
I am disappointed more than frustrated. You can be frustrated if you feel you deserved something out of the game. But we didn't. After an initial 15 minutes, we were second best all afternoon. You can analyse everything but at the end of the day, we looked tired, which was a bit of surprise considering we had a good pre-season.

But I'm not going to make excuses. We were beaten today. We should have been ready to go. It was very disappointing indeed.We were loose everywhere - we weren't good enough. The fans will be disappointed with the performance. People have mentioned the absence of Gareth Barry and Martin Laursen. This is a new team - we have to be ready for that.

We were good enough last season to overcome a lot of hurdles on our way to finishing sixth and that's what we intend to do again.

My point about him taking time to listen is one I'm sure is going to annoy a few people but I think it is a valid one. Many people have spoken about playing a variation of five in midfield and today, I think we were beaten by a team playing five in midfield.

Now, if it was Manchester United or Liverpool or Chelsea, then you have an argument for 'they are the better team', but it was Wigan. Wigan beat us by playing a very controlled game. They passed and attacked on both flanks. When they didn't have the ball they closed us down so we only had the long pass option, which is exactly what they wanted.

You hit a long pass, you give the defender plenty of time to ready himself and today we did exactly that. O'Neill has to look at his own record as Aston Villa manager and see that if we are going to compete, by playing better football, we need a five man midfield, simply because most other teams are going to use it and we don't have the quality to play otherwise.

Give me Messi, Ibrahimovic and Henry and we can play 433, but with Milner, Young, Petrov and Delph, you need to put in a Sidwell or Reo-Coker and take away Gabby or Heskey for it to be effective. It's just the way it is and O'Neill has to listen and learn and I know that is going to piss him off, but it's just the way it is.

I know it's day one, but we played today like we ended the season last week and it was only when Heskey arrived in January, when we reverted back to 442, that it went all wrong. We have to play like the teams above us and now how the teams below are starting to play.