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Villa boss O'Neill facing Lerner verdict

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Randy Lerner will jet in for crunch talks with Martin O'Neill this week - as the boss revealed his frustration at ending the season empty-handed.

Randy Lerner will jet in for crunch talks with Martin O'Neill this week - as the boss revealed his frustration at ending the season empty-handed.

Defeat in Saturday's top-four showdown with Manchester City ended the claret and blues' hopes of reaching the Champions League and they will now have to settle for a place in the Europa League.

American owner Lerner is due back in the country this week ahead of Sunday's final game against Blackburn and O'Neill, whose future has been the subject of widespread speculation, confirmed the pair will meet to discuss his role and the club's direction next season.

The Villa boss said: "The chairman is coming over for a few days, hopefully to take in the last game of the season. I will sit down with him and discuss all aspects about the season. If it's like he was telling me a couple of weeks ago - he's been immensely proud of the team.

"But we'll sit and we'll speak as I said I would do and we'll take it on. . . who's ever sure of what is going to happen? You just don't know."

O'Neill revealed his pride in his team despite them falling to defeat at Eastlands as City came from behind to win 3-1. But he admitted his disappointment that Villa have nothing to show for their efforts after two trips to Wembley and a Champions League near-miss.

"I am really proud of the team," he said. "We opened the campaign this year with a loss at home to Wigan and up until Saturday we shared with two other teams the least number of defeats.

"It tells you a lot about the character of the team, particularly after what happened at Stamford Bridge (the 7-1 defeat to Chelsea).

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"If we'd have got something tangible like the Carling Cup it would be nice to have said 'this is it - we've actually won this' and we went very, very close.

"And we were in the semi-final against Chelsea in the FA Cup. It's been a great old season but we have to really sit down and analyse it. For us to compete next season we have to get stronger."

By Brendan McLoughlin

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