Laursen: Gaffer's desire will fire Villa
Martin Laursen hails impact of Martin O'Neill.
7th Apr 2010
Laursen: Gaffer's desire will fire Villa

By Martin Laursen

Simply put, Martin O'Neill has transformed Villa - he has been a breath of fresh air at the club.

I have been so impressed with the job he's done - on and off the field.

When he arrived we were not playing good football and we were not moving in the right direction.

When Martin took over alongside the arrival of Randy Lerner, it was a big, big step going forward.

You could see the results from day one really. Martin came to the club with his winning mentality. He wanted to win games and didn't accept us losing. It was always a big thing when we lost. We had to analyse everything afterwards.

He just gave us confidence to go out, believe in ourselves and perform.

Everything was much more professional off the pitch too. Under Martin's management, everyone was sleeping on their own in hotels when we were away for games. We were flying in business class. He brought in a full-time doctor and two full-time masseurs to look closely at the games and the performances of the players.

It was just more professional and the players could feel and sense that. You feel better when you think 'here is someone who really wants to do something and wants to win' - that affects you as a football player in a great way.

There has obviously been massive improvements on the pitch too - and that's down to his winning mentality and his intense will to succeed.

I have been impressed with his purchases too. He buys players - the right players. He likes to play with a target man and wingers that can dribble and take the defenders on - people like Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.

He doesn't just buy players for the sake of it. He always takes a lot of time to sign someone. He buys players late in the transfer market and that's because he wants to find the right ones who will fit into the team.

He weighs up everything before he signs someone because he really knows how he wants Villa to play - and who will fit into that formula.

I read the other day that he said if he was to sell any of his prized assets, they would bring in good money. He's spot on. And it's not like he bought Ashley for £2m, he signed him for nearly £10m and he's certainly going to be worth more now. That says a lot about his ability to spot real talent in the transfer market and bring their game on.

It's the same with James, Gabby and Fabian. Gabby may have come through the system at Villa but the manager has brought Gabby's game on so much and Fabian has made a great start and looks set to be an important player next season.

Martin was massive for me - such a huge influence. I can't thank him enough for his treatment of me and all the things he did for me.

He understood how to deal with me and my injury. He knew I couldn't train every day like the others. He realised the most important thing was to be able to play when the weekend game came around.

He once said to me: "Martin, whatever you do from Monday to Friday doesn't matter but the most important thing is to be ready to play at the weekend."

Martin has been the most important manager in my career, along with Morten Olsen.

As a club manager, Martin is without a doubt the man who made the biggest impact on me - the one who gave me the most. But I have to bring up Morten too as my national team coach with Denmark. He developed me a lot. Martin had me when I was mature and so I wasn't a young player learning the game. Morten developed me when I was young. But Martin treated me so well - like a man - and understood me so well. That was so, so important.

There was a lot of talk in the press last week about Martin's future - but I believe Villa will have many more successful years with him in charge.

Continuity is so important in management - just look at Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Martin is a good man and he has that winning mentality - that ability to not just be satisfied in being sixth or seventh in the division.

He wants to go for the Champions League and you want those kinds of managers to be around your club so they can develop everything within it.

Villa is a big club with massive potential and good players and with an exceptional manager like Martin, they will continue to flourish.

martin o'neill, coaching staff, martin laursen, blogs, avfc,
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