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By ESPN Staff

Deadly Doug targets top-ten finish for Villa

Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis has his sights on a top-10 Premiership finish in 2006/07 after being assured by manager David O'Leary last season's poor performance was 'a one-off'.

Villa had finished sixth and 10th respectively in O'Leary's first two seasons in charge but during the last campaign were seldom out of the bottom six and eventually finished 16th.

Ellis insists he has issued no ultimatum to the manager after such under-achieving but has made it clear he expects Villa to be in the other half of the table next season.

He said: 'I am a realist and I expect to be in the top 10 next season and we will budget for that, although I'd love to be in the top six so that we can qualify for Europe again.

'We have given the manager the opportunity to continue to try and achieve that. We have to make sure we have a hell of a different season.

'Our finish to last season was disastrous. The manager has guaranteed me that last season was a one-off.'

Ellis also insisted he had a sound working relationship with O'Leary, who replaced Graham Taylor in the Villa hotseat in May 2003.

He said: 'I know any successful football club has to have a relationship between manager and chairman with no inhibitions either way.

'It has to be blunt sometimes - and believe me I can be blunt. But I have issued no ultimatum to the manager.'

Ellis is still trying to sell the midlands club but has so far been unsuccessful, with Irish property developers, the Comer brothers, having cooled their interest in a takeover bid.

He said: 'Everyone knows what the situation is and I am confident we will find a buyer but maybe the time is now right to stop talking about takeovers. Now is the time to focus on the team for next season.'