O'Neill hails Villa supporters
Martin O'Neill was "overwhelmed" by the reaction of the Aston Villa fans on a day when his players showed the necessary character.
The Villa boss has had a turbulent week, sparked by last week's 7-1 drubbing at Chelsea, and he was forced to answer questions regarding his future after rumours surfaced in midweek. It is fair to say O'Neill has not nailed his colours to the mast, stating he will sit down with chairman Randy Lerner in the summer and discuss matters.
If the supporters had their way they would keep him at Villa Park for life, evident today by the backing he received when he stepped off the coach when it pulled up outside the Reebok Stadium. They also chanted his name at the start of a game in which his side ended up as 1-0 winners against Bolton courtesy of Ashley Young's exquisite winner in the 11th minute for his ninth goal of the season.
"I don't want to sound melodramatic about it, but I was overwhelmed by it. It was very nice, and I appreciated it greatly," said O'Neill. The fans have made their intentions clear, and it now remains for O'Neill to do likewise, but when pressed today he was again giving nothing away.
"What I've said this week is that I will sit down with the chairman at the end of the season and assess the situation," added O'Neill. "When I spoke to him on Tuesday he has, despite the Chelsea game, been enjoying the season.
"He had said before if we could get a trip to Wembley then he would be delighted, and we have done that with the Carling Cup. Although I'm no great believer in semi-finals being played there, we're going back next week [in the FA Cup]," he said. "I'm sure I'll see him in the not-too-distant future, and we'll take it on from there."
Looking for revenge
That return trip to Wembley sees Villa with the perfect opportunity to gain revenge over Chelsea, and they will at least do so on the ideal platform after this clean-sheet win.
"Of course, I'm delighted with the team," said O'Neill. "We played very poorly last week in the last half hour of the game when we lost our shape and discipline," he said. "The players were determined to put it right, and it was a great reaction, which is what I expected. I couldn't have guaranteed us winning the game, but the players were determined to put things right in terms of performance on the pitch, and we played very well."
Coyle takes it on the chin
Bolton have now lost two successive games at home and continue to look uneasily over their shoulder at the relegation zone. Manager Owen Coyle believes this was an opportunity lost to increase the daylight between his side and the bottom three which remains at five points.
"Overall, as a group, we never attained the standard I'd expect," said Coyle. "That's what is disappointing because we had a good opportunity to win three points and put ourselves in a very good position in the league, but we've allowed it to pass us by.
"We started very well in the first 10 minutes, and were the team in the ascendancy, putting Villa on their heels," he said. "But you can't give the time and space we allowed to a player of the quality of Young inside the box, and although it was an exquisite finish, it was a poor goal to lose. After that, though, we huffed and puffed without any fluency or real cohesion to our game."