By Chris Wright
Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan has revealed that former manager Martin O’Neill was convinced that the Scot wouldn’t be meaty enough for the cut and thrust of the top flight, due to his prohibitive ‘size issues’:
“Martin had size issues with me and he kept bringing them up in conversation over the many meetings we had when he was at Villa.
“I’d been at the club since I was 14. My parents had left Lanarkshire and moved to the Midlands to look after me while I tried to become a success. But Martin left me disheartened when what I really needed was his trust.
“The only thing that kept me going during that period of rejection was when I said to myself, ‘some day somebody will show confidence in you’.”
Since Gerard Houllier has slid effortlessly into the hole vacated by O’Neill at Villa Park, Bannan’s penetrative passing has seen him nudge his way into the first team (collecting his first Scotland cap along the way), cramming his former manager’s filthy words back down his throat in the process:
“Gerard likes a passing game for Villa so now I’ve gone from the stage where I was on loan to Blackpool and playing every now and then to the point where I’ve been first pick for Villa for the last three matches in the Premier League.
“All of that’s been based on what the manager saw of me in training each day. I’m grateful to say he’s taken to me and I’ve experienced a total change of fortune since Gerard arrived at the club.”
Camp Drog says:
Ooh Barry! You are awful, but I like you!