The circumstances behind Martin O’Neill’s departure from Aston Villa have began to emerge thanks to the fantastic internet postings of General Krulak.
The General is a regular poster on a number of Villa massage boards and isn’t afraid to get involved in the nitty gritty of supporter debates and arguments.
When his name first appeared, shortly after Randy Lerner’s takeover and O’Neill’s appointment at Villa he was dismissed as a fake but wasn’t slow to answer back and confirm his credentials ‘Show me your medals?’ style.
The General is Charles Krulak, a former marine and non-executive director at Villa, usually described as owner Lerner’s right hand man.
Only O’Neill will be able to explain his decision to leave but Villa supporters are given as clear a picture as possible of what has gone on inside the club thanks to the General’s messages- watch out for Peter Lawwell and John Reid appearing on a message board near you soon!
From the club’s point of view it certainly appears as if the introduction of the much loved/despised financial prudence was a major factor in the departure of O’Neill.
In one post the General bluntly stated: “The reality is that the wage to revenue issue was not addressed and Martin apparently was unwilling to help address it. He quit.”
How’s that for straight talking?
In another post the General explained: “We have not suddenly become a “selling Club”…we have a good offer (for James Milner) that makes sense. That does not make us a selling club.
“There is no question that if ANY Club has players that are on the payroll but not playing on the pitch…it is prudent to sell them if possible.
“As I know I have mentioned MANY times before, a Premiership Club must balance wages against revenue…cutting wages must include the sale of players.
“I have also written many times that we are trying to run the Club in a sustainable and sensible manner BUT the amount of money we have spent over the past 4 years should tell everyone that we marry this approach with aggressive ambition!!”
Villa’s approach to communicating with supporters is certainly refreshing and unmatched elsewhere in the Premiership.
Lerner has been well accepted by the Villa supporters with the General’s regular posts on message boards going a long way to keeping supporters informed about what is going on at the club.
Certain confidential matters are of course untouchable but equally there is plenty of information that can be released to give fans a greater understanding of what goes on inside their club.
O’Neill is a very guarded individual who likes to give nothing away. He generally comes over brilliantly to supporters with his passion and commitment but rarely gives much away about his true feelings to the dismay of the media.
Brian Quinn’s famous leaked phone call where he sarcastically referred to ‘our esteemed manager’ would have had the Celtic manager fuming with anger- how he reacts to Villa’s decision to explain their side of his departure will make great box office.
With his legal eye and past record, anything revealed out of confidence from Villa could well be actioned by the famous O’Neill Legal Team.
Below are two posts from the General as he puts the club’s viewpoint to the fans.
General Krulak explained: “Martin’s decision to leave was just that…Martin’s decision. He quit 5 days before the beginning of the season.
“He was not pushed out. Rumors that there was a row between Randy and Martin over the sale of some players (Young and Friedl) are just that…rumors!!! There is absolutely no substance to the rumors that either player are up for sale!!
“Martin’s decision was a surprise to the Club. Randy had spoken to Martin last week and on the weekend and then flown back to the US. This morning, Randy was informed that Martin had quit and so Randy is now on a plane flying back to the UK. Martin was fully involved in the Milner deal…every step of the way…from the very beginning.
“It is a good move (Milner’s transfer) when look at in totality. We have not suddenly become a “selling Club”…we have a good offer that makes sense. That does not make us a selling club. There is no question that if ANY Club has players that are on the payroll but not playing on the pitch…it is prudent to sell them if possible.
“As I know I have mentioned MANY times before, a Premiership Club must balance wages against revenue…cutting wages must include the sale of players. I have also written many times that we are trying to run the Club in a sustainable and sensible manner BUT the amount of money we have spent over the past 4 years should tell everyone that we marry this approach with aggressive ambition!!
“Some of the comments I have read are truly amazing! Randy is NOT broke! Randy is NOT selling the Villa! Randy has NOT lost interest! I have even seen comments about Randy’s divorce! All of this is utter nonsense. Like all of you, I am not privvy to Martin’s thinking when he made his decision to quit. I am sure we will read enough about it in the media. My only hope is that whatever comes out, it comes out on both sides. What I do know is that Randy cares deeply about the Villa!!!
“He cares deeply about the Fans!!! I have not posted thousands of comments on 3 sites without caring about the Club and the Fans!!! We will all get through this together…we will get the right man and we will continue to move forward. As I get more info, I will pass it on.
“Obviously I am not in a position to name “targets” for the new Manager…that would not be a smart thing to do. What I will say is that we recognize this is an important decision and one that needs to be done rather quickly but, equally important, in a manner that gets the right man.
“We DO know how important this will be…no one is thinking it will be easy. Reality is that we have 4 days before our first game and rushing out to get a Manager is not the smart thing to do…just to have someone on the sidelines.
“One of the sad things about this whole affair is that Martin left when he did. I agree that the Club needs to come out with a statement…and they will. Likewise, Randy will have something to say. Speaking as a Fan, I have read every article about Martin’s departure and must say that they are pretty one-sided.
“There is absolutely no question that Martin did a good deal for Villa and I have said, over and over, that I felt he did a fine job. At the same time, I can promise everyone that he knew and understood the long range plans for the Club and bought into them.
“He knew full well about the need to bring wages in line with revenue…the same as every Premiership Club. He was absolutely supported by the owner during his time with the Club…all one needs to do is look at the money spent.
“The reality is that the wage to revenue issue was not addressed and Martin apparently was unwilling to help address it. He quit.
“Do I think we have some rough times ahead? Probably…but nothing that we can’t handle. I have been in some tough scrapes before…and I never got out of them by “wishing it away”. I just put my head down and continued to grind it out.
“At the end of the day, is the aim to get into the Champions League? Absolutely! Is this realistic? Absolutely! Do we still have a way to go?
“Absolutely! As an aside, no one person is bigger than our Club…not me, not Randy, not Paul, not Martin. What is interesting is that, apparently, only three of those named understand that fact.
“We will continue to try to do what is right by the Vlla…with the very best of intentions. Will we always get it right…probably not. But we will work damn hard to do the right things.”