O'Neill gets assurances from Villa chief

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Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner admits he had to give assurances to Martin O'Neill that his own commitment to the club was undiminished after four years in charge.

Lerner confirmed in his annual media briefing at Villa Park that O'Neill will be remaining as manager with the midlands club for a fifth successive season.

But the American multi-millionaire had to make it clear to O'Neill that he remained focused and ambitious to try and take the club to the next level after three successive top-six finishes in the Barclays Premier League.

"He asked specifically, 'where are you at Randy? You've been at it four years, what is on your mind?' He wanted to know that. We had that talk on a couple of occasions," said Lerner.

"I hope (Villa can fulfil his ambitions). I know what his ambitions are. Those are something you live with. You know where that person wants to go."

O'Neill will be looking to revamp his squad this summer and the likes of Curtis Davies, Luke Young, Nigel Reo-Coker, Steve Sidwell, Nicky Shorey and Habib Beye will be available to leave if the price is right.

The Villa manager held talks with players' representatives and agents in London on Tuesday as he starts to prepare for the new campaign.

Lerner said: "(O'Neill and chief operating officer Brian Faulkner) have met with agents and it is about trying to understand the state of mind of the player, what is possible, and deal with it."

Lerner is also adamant there was no disagreement with O'Neill over transfer dealing during the January transfer window ahead of unfounded speculation that the pair had fallen out.

He said: "There was not a difference of opinion. Like all periods when you have business to do, there is debate and discussion. To elevate it to a difference of opinion would be an overstatement.

"Martin was not stopped from signing players in January. At no point was Martin told 'don't bring in players or don't spend on players'."

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