18 Aug 2008

Players fixated on Champions League

6:48 am on 18 August 2008

The manager of the English Premier League football side Aston Villa says modern players have too much power and are fixated on the Champions League.

Martin O'Neill says the game is unrecognisable from the late 1970s and early 1980s when he won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder said he agreed with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that the pendulum had swung too far in favour of players.

O'Neill has battled for most of the close season to hang on to Villa captain and England midfielder Gareth Barry, who made no secret of his desire to join Liverpool and play in the Champions League.

He says he never wanted Barry to leave and that it should be possible for clubs outside the big four of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to hang on to their best players even though they all wanted to earn more money and play in the Champions League.