The 12 Days of Martin O’Neill

A real looker back in the day.

I may be in the minority of Villa fans when I say this: I kind of like Martin O’Neill. He’s small and feisty, intelligent-seeming and exhibits a knack for entertaining post-match interviews. He clearly made Villa better over the four years he was there, and for a while even someone so generally pessimistic as myself believed he might take us to the next level. Yet there’s the small matter of his hasty and rather disappointing exit. Disappointing, as in the emotion a parent feels when their child throws a temper tantrum and storms off to his or her room. Sure, it’s easy to lay the blame on either side in the transfer-funds throwdown that occurred between MON (as we Villa fans were apt to call him) and Randy Lerner; in the court of public opinion, however, it seems as if the North Irishman came off worse (probably owing to the fact Lerner still doles out our finances).

Now, after coyly flirting with managing several teams over the last year and a half, MON has succeeded in taking over the club he supported as a boy. I feel the altruistic need to speak to Sunderland fans, to modify your expectations having been a fan myself under (and thus an expert of) a MON tenure. Owing to the time of season in which O’Neill chose to bestow this gift of himself upon a struggling franchise (can I even use that word?), I will attempt to foolishly categorize my thoughts into the 12 Days of Christmas (henceforth known as the 12 Days of Martin O’Neill).

The 12 Days of Martin O’Neill

On the first day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003[1].

On the second day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, two training ground bust-ups[2]; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal.

On the third day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, three league titles with Celtic[3]; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, four Carling Cup finals (two wins)[4]; three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, five golden years at your club[5]; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, six awesome signings (at Villa)[6]; five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, seven EPL Managers of the Month[7]; six awesome signings (at Villa); five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, eight clubs he’s managed[8]; seven EPL Managers of the Month; six awesome signings (at Villa); five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, nine trophies as a player[9]; eight clubs he’s managed; seven EPL Managers of the Month; six awesome signings (at Villa); five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, ten years at Nottingham Forest[10]; nine trophies as a player; eight clubs he’s managed; seven EPL Managers of the Month; six awesome signings at Villa; five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, eleven players in 4-4-2[11], ten years at Nottingham Forest; nine trophies as a player; eight clubs he’s managed; seven EPL Managers of the Month; six awesome signings (at Villa); five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Martin O’Neill gave to you, twelve awful signings at Villa[12]; eleven players in 4-4-2, ten years at Nottingham Forest; nine trophies as a player; eight clubs he’s managed; seven EPL Managers of the Month; six awesome signings (at Villa); five golden years at your club; four Carling Cup finals (two wins); three league titles with Celtic; two training ground bust-ups; and a UEFA Cup Runner-Up Medal in 2003.

Fin.

Footnotes:

[1] MON led Celtic to the 2003 UEFA Cup final, only to lose to Jose Mourinho’s F.C. Porto.

[2] Well, there was that one famous training ground bust-up with Nigel Reo-Coker, but there’s bound to have been at least one more. The point is, he’s a fiery figure.

[3] He was very good for Celtic.

[4] Three with Leicester (two wins), one with Villa (they lost to Manchester United).

[5] He was at Leicester for five years, Celtic for five years, and would have been at Villa for five years but just missed the start of the season.

[6] Ashley Young, James Milner, Stewart Downing, John Carew, Stan Petrov (ish), Luke Young.

[7] His clubs normally start very strong and fade. The opposite of David Moyes.

[8] Grantham Town, Shepshed Charterhouse, Wycombe Wanderers, Norwich City, Leicester City, Celtic, Aston Villa, Sunderland.

[9] A couple European Cups and a Supercup with Nottingham Forest, a first-division title, some trophies for Northern Ireland.

[10] Those years were MON’s best: 285 appearances as a midfielder, 48 goals.

[11] For the four years I watched him at Villa, rarely did he set out in anything other than a 4-4-2 (Ashley Young and James Milner as wingers). He did contribute to inverted wingers enjoying a small vogue period, however.

[12] Nicky Shorey, Emile Heskey, Habib Beye, Arsenio Halfhuid, Andy Marshall, Stan Petrov…this list goes on. The point is, he’s iffy at best on the transfer market. You should know that.

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2 Responses to The 12 Days of Martin O’Neill

  1. Pingback: The O87 Christkwanzakah Pageant Extravaganza | The Other 87

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