O'Neill makes light of need for contract talks

Villa manager faces race against time before transfer window closes
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The Independent Football

Martin O'Neill is putting any thoughts of the long-term contract offered by the new Aston Villa owner, Randy Lerner, to one side and concentrating on strengthening the squad and reviving the club's fortunes.

O'Neill signed a 12-month rolling contract three weeks ago but Lerner's representatives quickly made it clear a six-year deal was available to the former Celtic manager if they won the takeover battle.

That would take O'Neill up to the age of 60, but the Irishman's thoughts are only on the present ahead of today's home Premiership encounter with Newcastle. "There have been no discussions [about the contract]," O'Neill said. "I will be talking to Mr Lerner and will give him an overview of my 21 days in charge, the strengths and what needs doing. That is the major issue. The length of contract doesn't bother me a jot. It has never bothered me a jot anywhere. I am not going to disappear tomorrow.

"I want to be here for the long haul and that's what I've done wherever I've been in 15 to 16 years in the game. Any contract or no contract doesn't worry me. That's how I did it at Celtic, basically on a handshake at the end of it all.

"I'm happy here. I signed a decent contract and I have to try to look after the club. My issue is genuinely not important. The issue is about the players and trying to make the club better."

O'Neill added: "At some stage or other, after Mr Lerner has settled down for six or seven months, and is maybe starting to look to talk, then that's fine by me. But if in six or seven months I am doing horribly, I know the consequences."

O'Neill said he is prepared for the possibility of not being able to make significant signings before the transfer window closes on 31 August. "I would like to strengthen. We have no fantastic strength in depth. That would be a bit of a concern. The transfer window being so close might make things very tight.

"If we are unable to do anything, we will just have to get on with things. The good thing is I have seen a fantastic willingness from the players to do well."

O'Neill has great admiration for Newcastle and admits it will be "a big ask" for his side to prevail. "We are delighted with four points from the first two games but we face a big task on Sunday against a club who want to be up there with everyone."