'It will take time to win back Villa fans' - O'Neill

August 7, 2006

Martin O'Neill has insisted it will 'take time' to win back all the Aston Villa supporters disillusioned with recent events at the midlands club.

Villa have reported a healthy response to O'Neill's appointment as David O'Leary's successor with nearly 1,000 season tickets sold in the last three days.

But O'Neill believes he will have to prove himself to the many other stay-away fans and hopes improvements on the pitch will persuade them to return to the fold.

He said: 'It will take time. People become disillusioned. I'm not going to tell people to come and renew a season ticket just because I've come here. That would be ridiculous.

'I'm hoping those people who are disillusioned with the way things have been going will come back in their time if they can see us trying to make some progress.

'People stay away for a reason and if we can do something about it on the field, win with a bit of excitement, maybe some of those people will renew and come back to the club.

'I can't just say 'come back' I've got to prove myself to them and to the people who are already coming.'

Villa operations director Steve Stride admitted: 'Martin's appointment has clearly given everyone a real boost. Supporters really can't wait for the new season to kick-off.

'There is a real buzz of excitement about the place. The phones haven't stopped ringing over the weekend.'

O'Neill is set to complete his backroom staff this week having already brought in assistant manager John Robertson and coach Steve Walford,

Former Leicester and Villa player Garry Parker is being strongly tipped to also join the coaching staff while the role of chief scout has to be filled following Ian Broomfield's departure.

John O'Hare held the post under O'Neill at Celtic but Ian Storey-Moore, who worked alongside Broomfield at Villa last season, is also a possible candidate.

O'Neill will have another opportunity to assess his newly inherited squad in Tuesday's friendly with NEC Nijmegen in Holland.

The former Celtic boss is expected to launch a bid for Celtic midfielder Stilian Petrov and is an admirer of ex Bhoy, defender Didier Agathe, who has recently been on trial at Blackburn.

Meanwhile, central defender Liam Ridgewell has faith in O'Neill to bring the glory days back to Villa Park.

The England Under-21 defender said: 'It's great to get a manager in. It's not nice to have things hanging in the air. There's a good buzz around the dressing room and a great buzz around the club.

'Hopefully Martin O'Neill can make Villa great again. It would be great if he could do that for us - and for me as well.

'We're glad to have him here and all the boys have welcomed him. Hopefully he can do great things like we all want him to.

'Everyone is out to impress the manager because they want to be in the starting line-up for the Arsenal game.'

Meanwhile, Villa have been holding a board meeting relating to the annual financial figures although the takeover of the club is also likely to have been under review.

American billionaire Randy Lerner is poised to make a formal bid in the next couple of days although the consortium fronted by Michael Neville believe they are still in contention.