Martin O’Neill expected new #1million signing Shaun Maloney to choose a new contract with Celtic, before the Villa boss instead got his man minutes before the transfer window closed.
Maloney was offered a new deal believed to be worth around #18,000 a week with the Bhoys - but when it became clear he was stalling on his future, O’Neill decided to swoop for the 24-year-old striker.
The Scottish international is expected to make his debut in Saturday’s home Barclays Premiership clash against West Ham, after signing a three-and-a-half year deal.
Maloney is now understood to be earning around #25,000 a week, after committing himself to Villa until the summer of 2010.
O’Neill said: "Shaun was out of contract in the summer, and we left it late before we even went in for him because I honestly thought he would sign a new contract at Celtic.
"But we were very encouraged with the way things progressed once we knew Shaun wanted to come and sign. We agreed everything with Celtic, and then it was simply a race against time - which we managed to win thankfully.
"He is a very decent player - not only during my time with him at Celtic - and he has done excellently in the last couple of seasons and has featured for Scotland.
"Shaun is an excellent player, and I think he is as conscientious as they come. He will be a big asset to this club, I have no doubts about that."
Meanwhile, Ashley Young is confident his forward partnership with John Carew can further blossom against Alan Curbishley’s side.
Young, signed from Watford for #9.65million, scored on his debut in the 3-1 reversal at Newcastle last night - while Carew, who came from Lyon to Villa in a swap deal with Milan Baros, had an effort disallowed.
Young said: "John hasn’t played for a while, but I thought we linked up well at Newcastle. It was good to get my first goal, and he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
"We will keep working on things and hope there is more to come from us. There were some encouraging signs from the team as a whole, despite the result."
O’Neill, meanwhile, appears determined to hold on to the services of central defender Liam Ridgewell - having rejected a late bid from Birmingham to sign him after Matthew Upson moved to West Ham.
Ridgewell has lost his first-team place in recent games, but O’Neill insisted: "I am trying to build a squad here - not dismantle one."
Villa defender Gary Cahill has been selected for Stuart Pearce's first England Under-21 squad.
Cahill is one of three new faces in the squad of 23 for the game against Spain at Pride Park on Tuesday, along with Blackburn forward Matt Derbyshire and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.