James Milner has said he feels no sense of guilt that his transfer contributed to Martin O'Neill's resignation at Aston Villa. O'Neill walked out of the club five days before the start of the season after failing either to keep the England midfielder at Villa Park or to receive assurances from the owner, Randy Lerner, that the £24m transfer fee from Manchester City would be made available for team strengthening.
"Yes, I was sad Martin went but it was down to him and he made the decision," said Milner. "The club is in great hands with Randy Lerner. He has been brilliant with me and I think every Villa fan should be happy he is at the helm of their club. He will do what is right.
"I have made some big moves in my career. I loved it at Leeds, my hometown club. I went to Newcastle and then saw a good opportunity at Aston Villa. We came very close to winning something last year and just fell short.
"City have different ambitions. They are moving forward and it is going very quickly. Both clubs missed out on the top four but Manchester City are much better equipped to get there. Everything is set up; from the backroom staff to the players, and I am desperate for that success to come as quickly as possible."
At 24, Milner's three transfers have all come with the grit of controversy. On the day he moved from Elland Road to St James' Park, he was on the front cover of the Leeds club magazine as "The Face of the Future". Two years ago, he was sold to Villa against the express wishes of the then manager, Kevin Keegan.
This time, however, he received a standing ovation from the Holte End after what everyone knew would be his final game for Aston Villa, the 3-0 defeat of West Ham. His debut for Manchester City saw him play a leading role in the stunning dismissal of Liverpool that was a fitting way to mark Sheikh Mansour's first visit to a club upon which he has lavished so much money.
Milner's second match is likely to be rather more low key: the second leg of a Europa League tie against Timisoara, with Manchester City already one up from the first encounter in Romania. Roberto Mancini yesterday suggested that Jo has rather more chance of a long-term future at Eastlands than his fellow striker, Roque Santa Cruz, who has been the subject of a loan enquiry from Lazio.
"Roque is a fantastic guy and if he wants to stay I'm happy," said the Manchester City manager. "But, if he wants to play, I think it is possible he will leave for Lazio."Reuse content