Mortimer warns Villa of dangers under Ellis and O'Leary

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The former Aston Villa player Dennis Mortimer believes that David O'Leary is facing a make-or-break month in his managerial career after the Carling Cup humiliation at Doncaster.

Mortimer insists that O'Leary must get Villa back on the right track before the reopening of the transfer window or face relinquishing for good their long-held status as the biggest team in the Midlands.

O'Leary's difficult season with his side languishing in 15th in the Premiership got worse when he watched his side routed 3-0 by the League One side Doncaster Rovers at Belle Vue on Tuesday night.

Mortimer said: "There have got to be question marks over David O'Leary and where he is going with this team. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the club and if things are not sorted out Villa will find themselves in an even more dire position than they are now... O'Leary must know that his reputation is going to be put to the test over the next month and into the new year."

Mortimer, a long-time critic of the Villa owner, Doug Ellis, believes that he should shoulder just as much responsibility as the club's managers for a trophyless stretch lasting just short of a decade.

"Ellis should have left the club five years ago and retired to a house in Spain and let someone else have a go," Mortimer said. "This club has become very complacent under his leadership... We lived the dream in 1981 and 1982 and since then the club has struggled to emulate those times. People are starting to ask if we can ever win anything again. If we get this club taken over by the new year it can become a totally new football club. If not it will keep on drifting and end up overtaken by the likes of Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion."

O'Leary said that he felt the disappointment of the extension of Villa's trophyless period as much as anybody. "We put our best team out because we wanted to go out and win - the League is going to be won by a few teams so this is one of the cups you want to do well in," O'Leary said. "We have got some hard games coming up and some tough ones away from home. We will move on and concentrate on them but the disappointment is there."