While Martin Laursen has nothing but good things to say about former manager Martin O’Neill, the same can’t be said for some players who played under the Derryman at Aston Villa.
Martin Laursen remains a cult figure at Aston Villa and captained the team towards the end of his time with the club at which he finished his career but an ongoing knee problem disrupted his experience at Villa Park.
Laursen revealed that David O’Leary, the manager who signed him from AC Milan, did little to ease his knee concerns with his training philosophy but the Danish defender was relieved when O’Leary’s successor, Martin O’Neill, turned out to be much more understanding of the very specific regimen required by Laursen, who was approaching his 30th birthday when O’Neill took over.
O’Neill was willing to cater his expectations of Laursen to his limits with his knee, a trait that is definitely appreciated by the defender but during an appearance on The Broken Metatarsal podcast, Laursen revealed that not everybody got along with O’Neill the way that he did.
“Some players hated Martin O’Neill because of the way he managed. He was very old fashioned, it was his way or the high way. You couldn’t say a lot to him, he was the one who decided everything,” Laursen said of his namesake.
“But if we just talk about my situation with him, that was incredibly good. He said to me, ‘The games are important. What you do from Monday to Friday, I won’t say that I don’t care, but the most important thing is that you are available for Saturday.’
“And that was great for me to hear because David O’Leary said I should be out to every training session, whatever. But Martin O’Neill said you can train inside if you want on Monday, Tuesday, have Wednesday off, then sometimes train with us on Thursday, otherwise just train with us on Friday. It depends how you feel, how your knee feels.
“He gave me things that I could do on my own and that was because I was an experienced player. It wasn’t like I didn’t do anything inside, I had my things to do, but he didn’t push my knee Monday to Friday like David O’Leary did and that was just perfect for me because that gave me the possibility to be 100 per cent fit for the games and obviously I played well.
“He trusted me. He could see that I was a great professional, that I only wanted to play well, only wanted to be available, that it was so important for me to be available. He saw that and he trusted me. It was great for me, but it was also good for him to have me in the squad. I played well for him so it was a win-win situation.”