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Bruce lives in 2007 - does O'Neill?

Steve Bruce outmaneuvered Martin O'Neill in the transfer window in the summer and his superior awareness of the modern game will pay dividends tomorrow - Birmingham will beat Aston Villa, and will beat them well.

It's a bold prediction to make, but given Bruce's track record in derby matches as a player and a manager - and O'Neill's failure to reproduce his moments of genius he occasionally showed before leaving Celtic - it's the only one that can be made.

One way to compare the two managers is to look at the Liam Ridgewell situation. O'Neill let Ridgewell move to St Andrews for £2million and then signed Zat Knight for £3million. Is Knight worth £1million more than Ridgewell? Is Knight even a better player than Ridgewell? Even the most optimistic of Villa fans would have trouble answering those questions truthfully.

When O'Neill left English football for Celtic in 2000 he probably didn't realise how much the game would change in 2006. While there was obviously pressure at Celtic, it was a totally different kind of pressure. Domestically, he only had four truly important games a season to worry about and, apart from reaching the final of Europe's second-string competition, he didn't achieve much in Europe.

He left Celtic in 2005, as his wife was ill and he wanted to care for her. Now, that's a very noble thing to do and no points should be scored because of the seriousness of the situation. However, it cannot be denied that in the year he was away from management, the game changed even more.

So fast-forward another year to when Doug Ellis appointed O'Neill as Villa boss. Yes, that's right - despite tomorrow's visitors wanting to forget it was Doug Ellis who appointed O'Neill it really did happen! O'Neill had finally returned to English football, to a real football league and to a club who were in a totally different position to Celtic.

What did he do then? Well, he brought in some old cronies first - Chris Sutton, Didier Agathe and, last but not least, Stiliyan Petrov! The Bulgarian who has set the world alight after moving for somewhere between £6.5-£8million with his woeful displays is perhaps a good example of how someone can be look legendary in the SPL, but utter garbage in the English Premier League.

Being fair for a moment, it's only right to admit that O'Neill had little time to really act in the transfer market as the sale of the club to American credit card man Randy Lerner took a long time to complete. Though that doesn't explain O'Neill's actions in the January and summer transfer windows of this year.

Too many times, and even Villa fans would surely admit this, O'Neill has made comments about not wanting to be held to ransom by clubs asking for lots of money for their players. Well, Martin, the amount of money clubs command for players has increased by quite a large amount since you were at Leicester - and surely you must have realise that during your time as a pundit, while performing your "I'm Martin O'Neill, aren't I great" act?

So if money is an issue, why pay that mad amount of cash for Petrov? Scottish clubs can't command the sort of money English clubs can for players, nowhere near as much, yet there didn't seem to be much complaints there. Is you concern really money? Or are you, perhaps, just saying that because you don't want to let the Villa 'faithful' know the truth - that players don't actually want to play for a team of mid-table long-ballers?

Sure, that might not be anywhere near the truth, but with the Petrov fee, combined with the Ashley Young transfer, things don't appear to add up. Perhaps it would do if we travelled back in time to 2000 at Leicester, who knows.

Tomorrow should be interesting - for Birmingham City have a manager who knows he is managing Birmingham City in 2007. But can Aston Villa make the same claim - or is Martin O'Neill stuck in a time-warp where he is trying to transform Villa into Leicester City of 2000-ish, where he can get back into his comfort zone...?

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The Journalist

Writer: Jasper's Parrot Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday November 10 2007

Time: 2:32PM

Your Comments

How can u accuse MON on his transfer dealings! At least we don't buy past it players! Let me think... heskey, izzet, david dunne and loads more! And liam ridgewell is never as good as zat knight!!
ChrisyB's Villa
Don't buy past it players? Didier Agathe? Chris Sutton? And then buy players who supposedly have work permits but don't? Petrov isn't past it as much as not up to it! Knight is one of the worst defenders in the Premier League. And as for buying West Ham rejects!
Jasper's Parrot
This argument could go on forever but there is no doubt in my mind that Ridgewell is a far superior player to Zat Knight. And he is four years younger and still developing. Knight has already reached his peak level of mediocrity.
The Blues Brother
You do know that Agathe and Sutton were both free and Sutton was excellent for us before he got injured.Most Villa fans weren't happy to see Ridgewell leave and I dont think he'll get dogs abuse or anything like it.
Ridge will get some abuse even though he shouldn't as there are *********s in every fanbase. There are *********s who boo minute's silences, it's a fact of life, sadly. He shouldn't be booed, though. I'd have kept him in a flash.
Well, we'll see tomorrow. I'd guess it would be more than "some" as travelling fans are always far worse, and generally beered-up, than genuine home fans.
Jasper's Parrot
Pking - so you have a manager sitting on a near-billionaire's fortune and he scrapes around for frees. Some would say that's like a pig snuffling for truffles ;-)
The Blues Brother
He signed them when he took over last season when the transfer window had closed and we desperatley needed bodies.He only had one week to work in the transfer market get your facts straight.
He managed to blow millions on Petrov in that short amount of time, however...
The Blues Brother
how on earth can u say we buy west ham rejects! Reo coker prctiaclly took them 2 the FA CUP final! And as for liam ridgewell, he's about 3 inches short 2 be a good centre half! (villa reject!!)
ChrisyB's Villa
wat has steve bruce ever dun hey!!?? the same as every other blues manager! win nuthin! same ol, same old!!!
ChrisyB's Villa
Reo Coker is a West Ham reject on the ground the West Ham fans nearly unanimously rejected him! He was hated. What has he done for Villa so far? A few ridiculous challenges, five yellow cards and one red.
Jasper's Parrot
Petrov was class when he played under MoN at Celtic so you can understand why he splashed out on him.He has been poor though and Knight is capable of a real Enkelmen moment tomorrow.
it's his first season! and if u watched him play (but u obviously havn't) he has sumtimes outshined gareth barry in the centre of midfield! And he's about 10 years younger than all ur old past it players!!
ChrisyB's Villa
MON's only decent permanent signing is Ashley Young, and he was a decent money signing. So yea, MON should realise that decent players cost cash! But no, Villa will have to put up with his talk and chat and excuses for as long as he bothers staying. 2-1 to the Blues tomorrow, Bruce wins the tactical battle.
Bit of a large article about our manager that. With some really interesting "facts" in it. Who ever said you lot where obsessed?!?!? By any chance was written by the same bloke who predicted that tomorrow you will play the same type of football manu did against us?
Hands up noses, how many of you here have called for Bruces head in the past?
Even if I didn't rate Steve Bruce, I would still not rate him as the worst manager in the league...
Jasper's Parrot
Got me again. Damn.
I don't think it's too controversial to suggest O'Neill acts like he was still at Leicester, with his signings and tactics. Lump the ball forward and run - if that doesn't work, panic! If he realised he had money behind him, he could (or would) be a himself and his club.
St Andrews Blue
I can kind of agree on ridgewell-knight statement but i don't know what you are trying to say about our transfers last january. So Young has got into the england squad for no reason? Carew's no good? Come on, get your facts right before you go spouting your mouth off please. And as for the guy who said West Ham rejects, you have got a bloke who couldn't make the bench at villa as your captain. Get real lads. Theres only 1 top dog in the midlands and its not you.
You seem more bothered about goading villa fans by having a go at Mon, rather than being excited about your own side and their prospects. This is probably why you will always be second best!
And you accept idiotic managerial decisions. Which is why you will always be mid-tablers! Touché!
St Andrews Blue
Steve Bruce had done well with everything going on around him but dont get carried away. Anyway good luck for the rest of the season (obviously not the games with us.)
An heavy defeat against your nearest rivals today could spell the end for Steve Bruce.
I find it amusing that MON transfer dealings are being criticised whilst Bruce is held up as some sort of genius in the market. Figueroa? Pandiani? Martin Taylor? Rowan Vine? Cameron Jerome? The fact that you think Ridgewell is even half decent show the level you judge at. He was one of the biggest liabilities we ever had down Villa Park! The criticism of signing Sutton as a stop gap? What about Andy Cole? Same old Blue nose's, saying something out loud must make it true. MON is stuck in 2000. Must be true. Thats why he's signed one of the hottest prospects in the Prem in Ashley Young. Thats why we're buying the future England goalkeeper. Thats why we've got 6 players under 25 in the side. Clutching at straws I'm afraid with the claims in this article. Hand on heart you lot have got every chance of getting a result today. But it'll be a shame if that happens and you allow it to paper over the cracks at St Andrews.
May I be the first to thank Ridgewell for his contribution to todays game. Great transfer business if you ask me!!!!!!
Remember how that song the @Laughing Policeman' goes :) hahahahahahahahahaha!
Did you see the joy that you brought the travelling Villa fans today? May I thank you for another 3 points that takes us to within 3 points of a Champ league place. The closest you will get to this is at the start of the season before the league kicks off.
'Blues Brother' I thought Petrov ran the show for us today; and if you wern't so ill-informed would have probably known that he has been playing well the last couple of games. I must admit I'm not the biggest fan of Zat Knight, but Ridgewell surely must have made you rethink your earlier claims? UTV. Gabby Gabby Gabby Gabby Gabby Agbon'la'hor, he's fast as F*** he's fast as F'*'*'*'....
haha i dont understand how bham fans can say villa are a long ball team livin in 2000, they have some of cracking players, reo coker (was under 21 captain) agbonlahor (awesome player) ashley young (another awesome player) carson (englands number 1) barry (englands saviour) and birmingham have....???
Cant believe you didnt even sell out your ground for a derby game! Disgusting! Shows how small time your club really is!
Haha who's laughing now? MON or Potato head
"Steve Bruce outmaneuvered Martin O'Neill in the transfer window in the summer and his superior awareness of the modern game will pay dividends tomorrow - Birmingham will beat Aston Villa, and will beat them well."
"O'Neill let Ridgewell move to St Andrews for £2million and then signed Zat Knight for £3million. Is Knight worth £1million more than Ridgewell? Is Knight even a better player than Ridgewell? Even the most optimistic of Villa fans would have trouble answering those questions truthfully."
We get £2million form you and he scores for us PRICELESS
What an absolute pile of rubbish, result speaks for itself. knuckle dragging noses strike again....
4 points off 4th place with a game in hand - life is hard.
I honestly wish i'd read this article before yesterday's match - still in hindsight its still fantastically funny. Good luck when the rest of the premiership figures out that ridgewell has no pace and is beaten by a ball over the top every time.
The Usual Suspect
Knight is better than Ridgewell as he hardly misses a tackle. Ridge had potential but never improved at the rate he should, gave away far too many fouls and a few O.G's - has that happened for you guys yet?
beat you in your own cow shed of a back yard. Hahahaha!
So when are we going to see the match report and an apology from your dear mr. Gold?
pongo wearing
Bitter man i say is Bruce. Nothing worse than losing a derby game but take it on the chin and get on with it.
will it ever happen
a well written article...a shame that the cystal ball was bit steamed up and that the well beaten prediction was amiss..............

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