Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill insists he is "not fire-proof" despite the success he is enjoying this season.

Villa have climbed into third place in the Premier League and are into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup after O'Neill built a side based on some of the best young English talent.

O'Neill has an excellent relationship with Villa owner Randy Lerner who has also provided him with sound financial backing in the transfer market. But the former Celtic boss knows the picture can quickly change and in general feels more and more accent is being placed on instant success rather than a manager being given time to stamp his mark on a club.

O'Neill said: "I think for a number of years we have been in the age of the disposable manager. I really do. I don't get paranoid about. I do get concerned about it. I am not fire-proof. You have to win football games to become fire-proof.

"That is the nature of the game. You must try to keep on top of things so forgive me if I didn't get carried away by people telling me Villa would go third if we won on Saturday (at West Ham).

"Nothing surprises me in the game anymore but then I've held that view for quite some considerable time."

O'Neill added: "I don't think managers are being given a decent crack of the whip. It is getting harder and harder for young managers trying to make their mark.

"For example Paul Ince (at Blackburn) hadn't had much chance to bring in players he would feel comfortable with and to have his own team. It seemed as if he was in the job three minutes.

"The fear of relegation is part of it and you are not getting much of a chance and being judged purely on results. I accept we are in the results business. But 14-15 games doesn't seemed a lengthy time to find out about your reserves, yet alone the first team."

O'Neill is aware it will be the performance of players which will decide the fate of any manager. He said: "What is the secret of success as a manager? Just to try to sign good players. It is very important. The players are so important to any success at the club.

"I accept there is a head of the club that has to be responsible for it but the team itself is the most important issue. When the players are playing well, and with confidence and win games, everyone is delighted and the manager is good.

"When the team is losing, the manager is pathetic. At the moment we are doing okay, but my turn to be pathetic will be in about three weeks' time!"