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Aug 15, 2010

Lerner blasts City over continued Milner chase

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has hit out at Manchester City over their pursuit of midfielder James Milner and also hinted that caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald could be a serious contender to replace Martin O'Neill on a permanent basis. Lerner claims City have broken rules by continuing their interest in the England international after being told Villa did not want to sell.

"Big, bad Manchester City came along and asked for Milner and we said, 'No, he is not for sale'. And under the rules you have to respect that," Lerner told The Mail on Sunday.

"Manchester City respected that for two whole days. And then they violated the rules and came in for him again."

Milner played a starring role in Villa's 3-0 win over West Ham in their Premier League opener, scoring his side's superb third goal.

"We are not a selling club. A selling club is when you let it be known that you want to sell a player, through an agent or whatever," Lerner said. "That didn't happen with Gareth Barry and it didn't happen with James Milner either. As for Ashley Young, he was never going."

Lerner then turned his attentions to the vacancy left by O'Neill's departure on Monday.

"There are those managers who like the show and the attention - and then there are those such as Kevin," said the American. "I'm not going to say it is in Kevin's hands now and I would be disappointed if it was reported like that. But much will depend on how Kevin feels, whether he thinks this might be right for him, if he is comfortable with the idea of being Villa's manager.

"He is such a cool guy, he is popular with the players - who really played for him - and with the fans and the press. We will see how he feels when he wakes up from this and then we will look at the situation from there."

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