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English Premiership

Villa director slams O'Neill

BIRMINGHAM, August 11- Aston Villa director Charles Krulak has slammed manager Martin O'Neill's decision to quit the club just days before the start of the new English Premier League season.
O’Neill resigned on Monday, reportedly because of a breakdown in his relationship with Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner brought about by having to sell his best players while not being given cash in return for new signings.

But Krulak, Lerner’s right-hand man at Villa Park and a former United States Marine Corps Commandant insisted O’Neill had received full financial backing during his four years in charge of the Midlands club, who finished sixth in the table last season.

"There is absolutely no question that Martin did a good job for Villa and I have said that over and over," Krulak told the Villa fansite on Tuesday.

"At the same time, I can promise everyone that he knew and understood the long-range plans for the club and bought into them.

"He knew full well about the need to bring wages in line with revenue – the same as every Premiership club.

"He was absolutely supported by the owner during his time with the club. All one needs to do is look at the money spent.

"The reality is that the wage-to-revenue issue was not addressed and Martin apparently was unwilling to help address it. He quit."

Krulak added: "No one person is bigger than our club – not me, not Randy, not Paul Faulkner (chief executive), not Martin.

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"What is interesting is that, apparently, only three of those named understand that fact."

Villa begin the new season at home to West Ham on Saturday but Krulak stressed the board would refuse to rush into finding a replacement for former Celtic manager O’Neill.

"What I will say is that we recognise this is an important decision and one that needs to be done rather quickly but, equally important, in a manner that gets the right man.

"We do know how important this will be. No-one is thinking it will be easy.

"The reality is that we have four days before our first game and rushing out to get a manager is not the smart thing to do just to have someone on the sidelines."

Krulak added: "One of the sad things about this whole affair is that Martin left when he did.

"I agree that the club needs to come out with a statement – and they will.

"Likewise, Randy will have something to say."

Reserve coach Kevin MacDonald is currently in caretaker charge but among the candidates linked with succeeding O’Neill on a permanent basis is former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

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Four years ago the Swede indicated he would be ready to take over at Villa when the victim of a ‘sting’ by Britain’s News of the World tabloid .

Eriksson’s agent Athole Still said on Tuesday: "There has been no contact from Aston Villa. Sven gets associated with a lot of big jobs."

United States coach Bob Bradley, Ajax boss Martin Jol and Germany great Jurgen Klinsmann have also been linked with the job.

Meanwhile Doug Ellis, Lerner’s predecessor and the man who appointed O’Neill, said: "I’m saddened and most supporters will be saddened (at O’Neill’s departure).

"But the club is bigger than any one man and, in Randy Lerner, Aston Villa have a good chairman.

"I know he will find a successor and I hope all supporters will back him and Paul Faulkner in finding the best possible man for the job."

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