Hyder Jawad on an exciting development that has its roots in the triumphs of a previous generation.

Martin O'Neill has hastened the return of what was once considered to be a dying breed: The Aston Villa Winger.

But there is an irony, for the two players he employs on the wings - Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor - are essentially strikers.

Labels count for nothing, however. The performance of these two players, both youthful and quick and supremely balanced, went some way towards ensuring a memorable 2-0 victory at home to Chelsea last Sunday.

By common consent, this was Villa's most significant result since they won 3-1 away to Liverpool on September 8, 2001. But it was not just the acquisition of three points against Chelsea that impressed Tony Morley; it is also the pattern that seems to be developing.

Morley, the most famous right-footed left winger in Villa's history and a member of their 1982 European Cup-winning team, has identified Martin O'Neill's desire for pace and desire for British talent as reasons for optimism at Villa Park.

"It is not difficult to work out what Martin stands for," Morley says. "Pace and hard work and that is some combination. When I look at Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor, I see players. When I look at Ashley Young in particular, I see a player who has those quick feet and that confidence that all wide players need. Just as importantly, he seems keen to get a cross in as often as possible.

"Look at Shaun Wright-Phillips. He would beat three or four men against Villa but still wouldn't get a decent cross in. Ashley Young is different because he knows it is about the final ball."

There is little doubt that Young is benefiting from the influence of O'Neill but, according to Morley, there is another equally significant influence: John Robertson, Villa's assistant manager, who played alongside O'Neill for Nottingham Forest during the late-1970s and early 80s.

"John Robertson was just about the best crosser of a ball from a tight angle," Morley says. "I played against him many times and marvelled at his ability. You can be sure that he is giving Ashley Young all the best advice about how to deliver the final ball. You can see, even in the few months that he has been with Villa, how Ashley has improved as a player and makes better use of his pace.

"I am jealous of him; jealous that he is playing for a great club, in a great league, on great pitches and under a great manager. He has all his best years to come and can make such a big impression for Villa. The same goes for Gabriel.

"I like the pattern that is developing. It is also interesting to see how many British players make up the Villa squad. Does Martin O'Neill know something we don't?

"Is there an impending rule change, where English clubs are forced to play a large amount of English players? Or is it that Martin just thinks that British players are better value for money?

"Whatever the reason, you can see that things are moving in the right direction. Of course, it is only one good victory and Villa did need a last-minute goal to defeat Fulham and they did lose to Liverpool after a below-par performance. The signs are good but there is a long way to go."

Morley, aged 52, who divides his time between coaching and broadcasting, has no doubts that Villa are benefiting from the knowledge that O'Neill gained from playing under Brian Clough. Clough, who produced great teams out of good players, always emphasised hard work, good attitude, and open ears. The desire to learn was paramount.

"It is not hard to notice how much the Villa players want to play for O'Neill," Morley says. "That was how it was with the Forest players under Clough and Martin should know; he was one of those players.

"It is about appreciating where football is at. In this day and age, where defenders have to be more careful with their tackling, there is a bigger place for pace and skill. O'Neill realises this and that is why he has a team that contains such players as Ashley, Gabriel, Luke Moore and others. If you can run quickly with the ball, you are an asset.

"But notice how happy the players seem. There is harmony now and that is encouraging. I have spoken to Martin O'Neill a few times and I can see why he pleases people. Brian Little, whom I know very well, is a similar type of personality and maybe that is why his Villa team of a decade ago also seemed united and happy.

"A happy dressing room is a powerful thing. We had it, under Ron Saunders, when we won the League in 1981 and began to make progress in the European Cup the season after. OK, so Ron had a different style. He was more about discipline and keeping our feet on the ground.

"Ron was never interested in pushing us for a place in the England team. He was only interested in Villa. Maybe that is one reason why, when we won the European Cup, so few of us played regular international football. Martin is different in that regard because he clearly wants Gareth Barry, who has been outstanding, to be playing regularly for England.

"And now that Ashley Young is in the England squad, there is hope that Villa can have regular representation in Steve McClaren's squad. But this is the hard part because you have to take your chance straight away and Ashley knows that. I am expecting a lot from Ashley. He is already looking like a bargain at #8million."

A bargain, yes, and evidence that Villa have finally found a Tony Morley for this generation.