'I never want O'Neill to leave Villa' - Lerner
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has vowed to do everything possible to try and ensure manager Martin O'Neill 'never wants to leave' the midlands club - even if England make another attempt to secure his services in the future.
O'Neill was among the candidates to be interviewed in the search to find Sven Goran Eriksson's successor before the Football Association opted to appoint his assistant Steve McClaren.
The former Middlesbrough manager's position could come under the microscope if England fail to record positive results against Israel and Andorra in next month's Euro qualifiers to revive their hopes of reaching the 2008 finals.
And, while Lerner concedes he would basically be powerless if England came calling for O'Neill, he wants to create a club and environment which would make leaving impossible for the former Celtic boss.
Lerner said: 'I could not think of better fortune than working with Martin O'Neill and I think that you never get in anyone's way.
'Martin and I talked this morning. He called and asked if I was okay. I said 'yeah'. He asked if I had any questions. I said 'yeah, just one'.
'Basically, in answer to my question (about his future) he said that he is managing Aston Villa for the long haul. He said that we have got a job to do and we are going to see it through.'
Lerner added: 'Did England make a mistake in not appointing Martin O'Neill? I am not qualified to answer that question.
'But I have to rely on my relationship with Martin. I don't think, in Martin's way of thinking, that contracts are terribly important. I think he is going to be where he feels is right for him.
'The way to keep Martin O'Neill is to be respectful, to support him, and to let him do his thing - and he will do it.
'I would acknowledge (if England approached the club for Martin O'Neill), I wouldn't be able to do anything about it. Perhaps jump on him and put my arms around him.
'I don't think, when you're talking about Martin O'Neill and these celebrated jobs, it should involve me. I just want to create a compelling opportunity at Villa, otherwise I would create obstacles, which would not be good business.
'I want to create an environment where Martin O'Neill would never want to leave Aston Villa.
'He wants to win the Premier League and the European Cup. He has done it before as a player with a great manager (Brian Clough) and wants to do the same as a manager.'