Martin O'Neill makes shocking remark about his Aston Villa selection policy

The former Villa boss admits he "almost enjoyed" leaving players that he did not get along with out of his starting XI.

Former Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has made a shocking revelation about his selection policy when he was in charge of the club, admitting to reporters that he "almost enjoyed" leaving players out of his starting XI if he did not get along with them, as quoted by the Irish Sun.

O'Neill was in charge of Villa for four years, leading the club to three sixth-place finishes in a row before quitting his job just five days before the start of the 2010-11 season.

Almost immediately after his surprise departure, then-Villa centre-back Curtis Davies aimed a thinly-veiled dig at the Northern Irish boss by claiming that he was never given a fair chance at Villa Park under the former Celtic manager.

Davies had been signed permanently by O'Neill for around £10 million in 2008 but after just one season as a regular he found himself exiled by his manager after a host of new defenders were signed during his injury absence.

The current Hull City man's comments clearly still rankle with the Republic of Ireland manager as the 64-year-old made an eyebrow-raising claim to reporters on Wednesday.

He said, as quoted by the Irish Sun: "At club level, perversely I almost enjoyed leaving out players I didn’t like."

"I know there was a player after I left Aston Villa who said, in one of those car window-down interviews as you’re leaving the training ground, ‘He always had his favourites’.

"Yeah, they were usually the best players."

On occasion during his time at Villa, O'Neill did gain something of a reputation amongst supporters of being a stubborn manager who would often choose to move regular players out of their natural positions in order to avoid picking natural options that he did not rate.

The Irish boss was speaking to reporters ahead of the international friendlies against Switzerland and Slovakia.

Have something to tell us about this article?

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch