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Football: Randy raring to go in bid for signings.

Byline: By Bill Howell OUR MAN AT VILLA

MARTIN O'Neill believes Randy Lerner is desperate to back him in the transfer market.

But the Villa boss knows the American well enough to know that the club's billionaire owner will not be making any rash promises in the coming weeks because actions speak louder than words.

Lerner made a whistle-stop appearance at Villa Park for the midweek clash with Chelsea and is expected to spend the majority of the next few months in England, flitting back and forth across the Atlantic to run his business empire.

O'Neill stresses that the last visit was in no way geared to putting the final touches to transfer plans, but with Villa attempting to make inroads into a number of deals he has expressed his appreciation of Lerner's backing.

"With Randy Lerner being here and with us trying to busy ourselves for a day or two, I'm not exactly sure what my (transfer) plans are," he said.

"Randy is enthusiastic and wants to get going - but it might be all wild goose chases and we may end up with nothing.

"He's keen to sort things out but he was not here specifically because it is the transfer window.

"It was only because the Cleveland Browns' season is over and I think he had a number of issues to address there."

Villa's new chief executive Richard Fitzgerald took up his duties at Villa Park this week and Lerner will have been keen to be in residence during that time.

O'Neill continued: "Lerner has his own businesses to sort out while he is here and I think he wants to use every minute if he can to help us.

"He's hoping to be here for a good part of the next three months and base himself more here for the next couple of months than America.

"He's really enthusiastic, which is great."

Lerner will not be relinquishing his control of the Browns but O'Neill can sense an affection for Villa because he has bought the club with his own money rather than simply inherited it as with the NFL franchise.

"My own view is he took the Browns over from his father, so it was already built and it was a matter of keeping the thing going.

"He was only a young man and he was thrown in at the deep end.

"But Villa was something he wanted to get involved in - there were genuinely a number of other clubs people were asking him to get involved with.

"He chose Villa. And I think he's done his best to read about the history and get the whole thing going."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 5, 2007
Words:442
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