Aston Villa under Randy Lerner will not make the mistake of Real Madrid and waste money in an unrealistic bid to buy instant success.

The American billionaire, whose £62.6 million takeover of Villa has been approved by the club's board, has vowed to make significant investment to ensure that the team is successful over a long period.

Lerner, who arrived in London yesterday for talks with the club, will not reveal how much money will be made available to Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, but wants to improve every aspect of the club.

Keith Harris, Lerner's financial adviser, said that the takeover will "excite all Villa supporters" and be the start of a new era at Villa Park. But evolution rather than revolution will be the initial policy.

"You cannot buy success," Harris said. "Randy is here for the long haul. Real Madrid tried to buy success and have not won a trophy for two years. Success is as much about entertainment and seeing young players develop as about winning trophies.

"Chelsea have won two league titles but they did not win in Europe and did not come close.

"Have all their players been successful? I don't think so.

"If Chelsea win the European Cup two years running, then you could say he [Roman Abramovich] might have bought success. But even that will have taken five years or so. That is not a quick fix.

"Talking to a lot of Villa supporters, they say that success would be top six and going close in a couple of trophies. And that would not cost a lot of money to achieve.

"To put a sum on what is available for the playing squad is impossible at the moment. Martin O'Neill, who would have been our first choice, has just got his feet under the desk after the European tour.

"Randy would say that you don't buy success. You invest over a long period. He is here for the long haul. So whether players will arrive before the end of August, I don't know. It is impossible to say."

Time will tell, Harris says, if Doug Ellis stayed as the Villa chairman for too long. But optimism in and around Villa Park is rife. Indeed, Harris hopes that Ellis will eventually be regarded with affection, especially for appointing O'Neill as manager.

"Doug's last act as chairman was to appoint our manager of choice," Harris said. "I think Doug appointed Martin O'Neill because Martin was the best man for the job. I hope this will be Doug's legacy. It will be much better for him to leave with his head held high.

I hope this is how he will be remembered.

"Doug has thought about doing this for a long period. Over the past few years, it has been harder and harder for Aston Villa to compete for Europe. I think Doug realised that, without substantial investment, Villa would struggle."

Asked if there would be a significant role for Ellis at the club, Harris was emphatic: "No, there will be no role for him." However, it appears that Ellis will be offered an honorary position - a condition of the takeover.

"There has not been a shortage of interest," Harris said. "Doug has been the controlling shareholder for a long while and is a strong character. Combine those aspects, until he wanted to sell there couldn't be a transaction. But now, with realism, he realised that it was time to go.

"I think the judgment [of whether Doug hung on too long] will come in the next couple of years. If Aston Villa are successful, people are capable of having short memories."

Much is known about Lerner the businessman - the 44-year-old is the chairman of the MBNA credit-card company and owns the Cleveland Browns team in American Football - but less about his character and personal traits.

"You will be pleasantly surprised," Harris said. "He is not elitist. But there is a commercial aspect to it. The media money available is greater next season. I think you will find he is extremely approachable. Like most Americans, they are happier looking forward than backwards.

"What you see on television is the empty seats and you hear the negative comments. But football fans can be fickle."

Harris accepts that there could be a problem with Villa's public image, but added: "Had Aston Villa won more trophies, you wonder if their media i mage would maybe be forgiven."

The departure of David O'Leary, who left as Villa manager on July 19, came at a convenient time for Lerner. It meant that talks could begin with Martin O'Neill, seem-ingly the best available manager.

"We talked to Martin when we started the bidding process at the time when Villa were without a manager," Harris said.

"That was convenient because we were not talking to one manager about trying to replace another."

Harris is an investment banker whose involvement in football includes a role in Roman Abramovich's takeover of Chelsea. He also tried to stop the Glazer family from taking over control of Manchester United.