Martin O’Neill hopes his side’s unexpected victory over Liverpool has gone someway to silence disgruntled Aston Villa fans, admitting he was “staggered” at the prophecies being made about his team just two games into the season.
The Villa boss saw his side cling on for a 3-1 victory at Anfield – their first win on the red side of Merseyside in eight years.
A Lucas own goal plus a Curtis Davies header set Villa on their way before a response from Fernando Torres.
But only minutes later, a coolly taken Ashley Young penalty sent the Villa faithful into raptures of “Gareth who?”
O’Neill was delighted with the win but still visibly smarting from the criticism being levelled at himself and his players after defeat in the two opening games of the season.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” he said. “I thought the players put everything into the game in terms of effort and in terms of skill and we deserved to win.
“This is a tough place to come and but we were fresher and fitter than a week ago and were just excellent.”
O’Neill admitted he had been “disconcerted” by the fans who had turned on his players at half-time in the league opener against Wigan.
“It is everyone to their own,” he said “But this is a young side and they will take criticism from me when it is deserved and take praise when they can but the prophecies levelled at us after one game, two games have been staggering.
“I didn’t hear Liverpool being booed off at half-time.”
Recapping the incredible goals from a team without talisman John Carew who was still out with a virus, the Villa manager said: “Ashley put the ball into a very dangerous area for the first goal but there was a slice of luck and for the second I thought it was a great goal – just magnificent.
“Davies was brilliant for us tonight.
“It was a clear penalty too for our third goal and it was tough as this was at Anfield and against one of the best goalkeepers in the world but Ashley took it magnificently.”
O’Neill said: This will give the players a bit more belief, now ahead of our Europe League game on Thursday.
“This side is essentially very young and I am trying to bring in experience in the next few days but I could not be more pleased. They deserved it.”