O'Leary keen to extend Villa deal contract

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The Independent Online

David O'Leary has revealed his desire to stay at Aston Villa and sign a new contract with the club whose fortunes he has revived on a shoestring budget.

David O'Leary has revealed his desire to stay at Aston Villa and sign a new contract with the club whose fortunes he has revived on a shoestring budget.

O'Leary, who has just over 18 months left of his current deal, has held what he described as a "brief" meeting with Villa's chief executive, Bruce Langham. But he has not received any further indications over whether Villa want him to extend his stay beyond the summer of 2006 when his initial three-year term expires.

O'Leary has transformed the club's fortunes since he replaced Graham Taylor as manager in May 2003 after Villa had finished only three points above the Premiership relegation zone.

Despite being ordered by the Villa chairman, Doug Ellis, to reduce the squad and wage bill, O'Leary transformed Villa into a side that missed out on a European spot only on the final day of last season when they finished sixth. They have made another promising start to the 2004-2005 campaign.

O'Leary realises it will take more than three years and major financial backing to achieve his goal of re-establishing Villa as one of the leading clubs.

He said: "I just had a brief little meeting with Mr Langham on the back of things said at the annual general meeting about me sitting down with them. I just said if the club want to offer me a new contract, I want to stay here. That's as far as it has gone. I haven't heard anything since. I've got 18 months left of the current contract.

"Is three years enough to take this club to where I want? Oh no. Three years is enough to try and stabilise and sort it out, but then we've got to decide where you want to take it from there."

Villa are at home to Queen's Park Rangers in the second round of the Carling Cup tonight, when O'Leary will have little option but to field a full-strength side, given the small nature of his squad, although the club's leading scorer, Juan Pablo Angel, will be back in the starting line-up after his knee problem.

Angel, who scored 23 goals last season, was left out of the starting line-up at Norwich on Saturday after clearly not being at his best the previous week against Chelsea. O'Leary confirmed: "Juan Pablo will start. He came in against Chelsea and wasn't completely right and that's why he had a reserve game in the week."

With Martin Laursen undergoing knee surgery today, Mark Delaney will continue to deputise at centre-half.

O'Leary said: "I was asked if I am going take this game seriously. I have to. It's a chance to get into Europe. There are not too many games to get into Europe, six or seven, compared with 38 in the Premiership to achieve that."

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