David O'Leary, the Aston Villa manager, raised a few eyebrows when he sold Peter Crouch and Darius Vassell. Crouch has since gone on to represent Liverpool and England, while Vassell has returned to form with Manchester City.
When Villa play away to City tonight, Vassell will be one of the players who will most concern O'Leary. Despite that, O'Leary has no regrets.
Vassell, the England international, ended a decade-long association with Villa, whom he joined as a schoolboy, in opting to make a £2 million switch to Eastlands in the summer. There is no enmity between the men. "I've been speaking to Darius and he sounds really good," O'Leary said. "He sounds like the lad who, when the move came up, said he wanted a change. He felt he needed that change after so many years.
"He had good people looking after him and they felt the same way and I'm glad it has worked out for him because he is a lovely boy with a lovely talent. I agreed with him and felt a change would do him the world of good.
"He'd been coming to the training ground at Bodymoor Heath for 10-11 years and Darius had been going through the same routine for so long and felt he needed to go to a new environment.
"The Manchester City move was a good one for him. It was a good deal all-round
for everyone. Darius wanted to go and it suited us as well. Everybody was singing off the same hymn sheet."
Villa went on to sign Milan Baros from Liverpool for £6 million after Vassell's departure, with Kevin Phillips having already arrived from Southampton for £750,000.
"I didn't buy Kevin to sell Darius," O'Leary said. "We bought Kevin because he was a fellow I had been chasing for a few years from his time at Sunderland. We brought Kevin in because he would get us goals. Then, after that, an offer came in for Darius. Darius felt he wanted to go and I felt it was right for him as well."
O'Leary knows the problems Vassell (inset right) can cause with his explosive pace but felt his finishing was the one area which could have been improved during his time at Villa.
"People have kept asking me since I came here 'Is Darius going to score more goals?' so that's the thing you want to see him do, score more goals, but he is a big threat for any defence."
Aaron Hughes, the Northern Ireland international right back, will return after resting a groin problem in the midweek Carling Cup win over Burnley but Baros is still sidelined with his Achilles injury, although he is back in light training.
O'Leary has admitted that he would like to manage the Republic of Ireland but not until he has fulfilled all his ambitions in club football.
O'Leary was quick to distance himself from the job which became vacant when the Football Association of Ireland was decided not to renew Brian Kerr's contract earlier in the month.
But the former Ireland central defender will be keen to have a crack at the post, or any in role in international football, in the future.
"I would be interested in an international job, definitely, but a lot further on down the line from at present,"
O'Leary said. "We'd all love to manage our own country eventually and I hope, when you get all the club stuff out of the way, that it might happen."
O'Leary's immediate priority is to transform Villa into a top six Premiership club with rumours rife that a takeover of the club by Comer Homes Group, an Irish-owned property company, for around £64 million are imminent.
Talks are understood to be well advanced between the company and Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman, who had hinted at the recent annual general meeting of shareholders that changes could soon occur. If the deal goes ahead it will give O'Leary the funds he believes are needed to make Villa a force again.
"It's been a slow process because we haven't had the financial clout," O'Leary said. "That's a big thing. Tottenham have improved over the last 18 months with the massive investment there.
"If you haven't got that, the process takes much longer. But I want to have a team that is year-in and year-out in the top six."