Little lambasts critics

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The Independent Online
Brian Little, the Aston Villa manager, has replied to critics, such as Alan Hansen and Chris Waddle, the television pundits who censured his side's performance in their Uefa Cup defeat by Helsingborgs, the Swedish club. Hansen and Waddle led the television and media criticism after Villa went out on the away goals rule, having being held to a 0-0 draw in Sweden.

Little said: "If we had played that game on another day, Dwight Yorke would have got the penalty we thought we had and Alan Wright's shot would have gone in instead of hitting the bar. Helsingborgs wouldn't have come back from that and we would have gone through. But when I hear the so- called experts on television say that we should change the system - a system which has brought us a lot of success - then I know we can't win.

"What would have happened if I had changed things about and we had still not gone through? Then I would have been criticised for changing it. It's easy to say these things after the match. You have to stick to what you believe in and I did what I thought was right. It's easy to say what you should and shouldn't do after the event."

Little hinted that the hectic nature of the domestic programme also reduces the opportunities to change the way a side can play. "If I had three weeks to get ready for a game, instead of three days, then I could, perhaps, prepare the players to change things around," he said. "I could get the lads together and go through things with them - but it just doesn't work like that."

Little also refused to attribute any blame for Villa's exit to the strikers, Yorke and Savo Milosevic, who are struggling to reproduce the form that produced 39 goals between them last season. "We win and lose matches as a team," Little said. "We were winning against Arsenal 2-0 and winning at Chelsea and drew 1-1. I'm not singling people out, but we didn't win those matches because we lost goals. We also lost a goal at Villa Park against Helsingborgs. That was the reason we didn't go through."

The Celtic striker Jorge Cadete is out of tomorrow's Old Firm derby against Rangers at Ibrox. The Portuguese international suffered a hamstring problem in Tuesday's Uefa Cup exit against Hamburg in Germany and misses what would have been his first Glasgow derby.

"Jorge won't make it and that is a big disappointment to us as we really wanted him for this one," the Celtic manager, Tommy Burns, said.

Celtic also have slight worries over Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Andreas Thom, although it would be a r shock if either of them was ruled out. Cadete was controversially deemed ineligible for the final Old Firm derby of last season, the Tennents Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden in April which Rangers won 2-1. Simon Donnelly is one candidate to step up, although Burns has other options.