Martin O'Neill has praised the impact made at Aston Villa by club record signing James Milner but admits the winger may have stayed at Newcastle had the Magpies not been in turmoil.
O'Neill splashed out £12 million for the England Under-21 player in August and, while Ashley Young is earning rave reviews for his performance on the left wing, Milner has started to show on the opposite flank the form evident during a loan season at Villa three years ago.
"James had to wait a while to get into the team but I signed him for the next four or five years - not the next four or five games," said O'Neill. "I never ever doubted him and he is doing fine. There is more to come from him. He works exceptionally hard for the team."
He added: "Taking players on is a big strength of his and he will only get better. I have been very pleased with him - but then there wouldn't be too many that I wouldn't be pleased with."
O'Neill added: "When we signed James, there were a number of clubs interested. I was delighted to get him but, had things been right at Newcastle at the time, James may well have stayed there.
"I was delighted when he agreed to come here and his experience during his previous year at Aston Villa definitely had a big bearing on his thinking.
"He did very well here during a year-long loan and the crowd took to him. He enjoyed it immensely. That would have been the deciding issue."
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