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By ESPN Staff

O'Neill hails Ferguson ahead of Cup clash

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has hailed Sir Alex Ferguson as 'the Godfather of The Premier League' and praised the way he has adjusted his managerial style to the demands of football clubs in the 21st century.

O'Neill, whose side visit Manchester United in the FA Cup clash third round tomorrow, views Ferguson as a 'throwback' to the managerial greats of the past such as Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby and Brian Clough.

But the Northern Irishman also believes Ferguson has shown his versatility in coping with the different way football clubs are now run in the era of the PLC.

O'Neill said: 'Sir Alex is one of the great managers of all time. He is a throwback to the old days of Shankly, Clough, (Don) Revie, (Jock) Stein, (Bill) Nicholson, Busby etc. Sir Alex is up there with all of those and he has proved it over a lengthy period of time.

'In the days of those great, great managers I have mentioned, they didn't have to contend with a lot of modern day problems like PLCs.

'Those people were able to basically run the clubs - and they ran them successfully because they were very good. They were in charge.

'I think Sir Alex had the ability to adjust his management style. There have been a lot of changes in the last 15 years and you've had to contend with a lot of problems that weren't there in the first place.

'He had the ability, the wherewithal, the strength of character to not only manage in the style he saw fit but to be able to transcend all those changes that were being made.

'To be at a club like Manchester United for 20 years, where you have to succeed, is extraordinary. He is the Godfather of the Premier League although I am not sure how people in Sicily would take to that!'

O'Neill believes Villa can test United - who won 3-0 in a Premiership meeting between the two clubs a fortnight ago - if they repeat their performance from Tuesday`s goalless draw with Chelsea.

He said: 'United away is a poor draw for us. We were drawn away in every round of the Carling Cup and you hoped we would get a bit of luck in the FA Cup against a side 14 leagues below us!

'If we show the same determination as against Chelsea, then we think we will give ourselves a bit of a chance. It will be hard for us because United are flying, regardless of what side they put out.

'We have a chance, regardless of whatever anyone else thinks. We want to do well. I'm not the type to come out with the `we're concentrating on the league' type of stuff.

'You don't need rousing for an FA Cup tie at Old Trafford. You want to play against the best players and against Chelsea on Tuesday we competed for long periods. We have to try and so the same against United.'