The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Why Martin O’Neill is no genius

The ex-Aston Villa boss should have done better.

Martin O'Neill's record as a football manager looks admirable, and neither of the two clubs he managed immediately before he took over Aston Villa -- Leicester City and Glasgow's Celtic -- prospered after his departure. But is O'Neill, who has walked out of Villa because the owner wouldn't let him spend more on players, as good as he's cracked up to be?

He lifted Villa from mid-table mediocrity to sixth in the Premiership in each of the past three seasons. Which sounds good, except that Villa's wage bill has also risen -- to the Premiership's sixth-highest.

If a manager is a genius, shouldn't he be doing better than his inputs would predict? That is how head teachers are judged. If the success of clubs and managers was rated on that basis, football might be solvent.