Boss gets set for O'Neill visit
Alex McLeish is uncertain about what reception Martin O'Neill will receive when he makes his first return to Aston Villa this weekend.
O'Neill has earned a 'god-like status' since taking over from Steve Bruce at Sunderland earlier this season and reviving the club's fortunes after a disastrous start. Generally speaking, the Villa fans have similar positive memories of the Northern Irishman's four-year spell in charge of the Midlands side, but a section of the crowd may still be bitter about the timing of his decision to quit the job, just five days before the start of the 2010/11 season. O'Neill is believed to have resigned as manager due to a breakdown in relations with owner Randy Lerner about the direction the club was heading in following the sale of a number of high profile players. His successor Gerard Houllier and now McLeish have both found it tough going following in his footsteps backed up by the reality of two campaigns flirting with relegation. By contrast, O'Neill's stay ended with three top-six finishes in a row in the Barclays Premier League, as well as an FA Cup semi-final and Carling Cup final. But, when asked about the response O'Neill will face from Villa fans on Saturday, McLeish said: "I don't know. Martin did a great job at Villa, sixth place in the league, the Carling Cup final and Europe. "He obviously felt he couldn't stay any longer and that's his prerogative. He's not the first manager to have done that. "Martin doesn't need to prove himself to anybody. He'll want to win here on Saturday, there's no doubt about it, and we're all very much up for winning this game as well. It should be a cracker."