Former Leicester City and Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill has revealed what it was like to manage big players at Leicester City. The Northern Irishman’s reign from 1995 to 2000 was a successful one but it didn’t get off to the best of starts. O’Neill remembers arriving at the club in hostile circumstances before forcing his way to success with promotion and two cup wins.
Martin O’Neill said “I spent a lot of my time in football unwisely in self-effacement and tonight is not the time for self-effacement, When I was at Wycombe, I earned my spurs in the sense I was out every night looking at players. Every second Monday night, I would have been Kingstonian watching Chelsea reserves and Chelsea reserves wouldn’t have joined Wycombe, but I knew if we stepped up we could do it. So, Muzzy Izzet I used to see on a fortnightly basis. Not that he knew me, but when I go to Leicester, obviously, I come under severe pressure because the chairman brought me to Leicester City and I didn’t realise he was not that popular with the board members. So, the board members, even before I got there, turned against me and the crowd didn’t help when we didn’t win for about nine, 10 games. As it turns out, the signings of (Neil) Lennon – who turned out to be a terrific footballer – Muzzy Izzet came on loan and then we finally signed him. Stevie Claridge – and I think Claridge was the one who gave us the image more than anything else. During the course of time that we got promotion and by the time we won the League Cup, we had a couple of big players. Steve Guppy came to the club, Matt Elliott was absolutely fantastic – (Gerry) Taggart, and that’s not to say Steve Walsh, who was already there – these were really strong characters. So they were generally a handful, but we kept them under reasonable control and I think they went a bit mass when they won consecutive games because it was unusual for them before! That’s just a joke and in very poor taste.”
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