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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 9, 2007

Lerner has club interests at heart - O'Neill

Martin O'Neill has insisted new Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner 'has the good of the club at heart' after assuring supporters he will be backed during the January transfer window.

O'Neill has claimed he will be'working around the clock' to add to the loan signing of Manchester United full-back Phil Bardsley before the window closes in just over three weeks.

Lerner has stayed out of the public spotlight since taking charge of Villa in late August and some supporters have questioned how deep he will dig into his picket to fund the manager's transfer plans.

But O'Neill, who is targeting Craig Bellamy, Ashley Young and Shaun Wright-Phillips, has faith in Lerner and claims the owner of NFL side Cleveland Browns has a 'vision' for the future of Villa.

He said: 'I get told that certain people are saying Randy Lerner's promises have not quite happened. How can anyone can possibly make any comment about that considering Mr Lerner was only involved for a day or two before transfer deadline day in August?

'We still signed Stiliyan Petrov and came close to getting James Milner before he was recalled by Newcastle. Then after that there has been no opportunity until this month to do anything.

'How can anything possibly materialise if you haven't had the opportunity to do it for four months - September, October, November, December?

'I am satisfied Mr Lerner has the club at heart. I do not expect to be spending money in the method that Chelsea have done but not many do.'

O'Neill added: 'During the next couple of seasons, Mr Lerner will show himself absolutely capable of looking after this football club. He has a vision of what he wants.

'When there was an opportunity to provide money, in the last week before the window closed, he provided £12 million for Petrov and Milner until the latter deal fell through.

'Even if everything in January does not materialise, because players are not available, that will still not mean that Randy Lerner's heart is not at the football club. Give him a bit of time.'

As regards further signings, O'Neill admitted: 'We've got Phil Bardsley on loan which I am delighted about and there are other irons in the fire.

'We have a number of ongoing things at the moment. Whether or not they come to fruition remains to be seen. I think Aston Villa fans will want to see the people when they have arrived - not hear me talking about them.

'But we'll work around the clock because we know we can't do anything after the end of this month. Other than signing someone who is out of contract, like Chris Sutton, there's nothing you can do after the end of this month and those.'

Wright-Phillips' wages may prove a stumbling block to Villa's hopes of signing the Chelsea player on loan as he earns around £70,000 a week at Stamford Bridge.