MARTIN O’NEILL may have stumbled across a new motivational technique for John Carew.
The Villa manager revealed he had fined his top striker for being out on the town in the early hours of Thursday morning and was left out of Villa’s UEFA Cup game with Ajax that night because of tiredness.
O’Neill has taken action against the Norwegian, with the fine likely to be in the region of £100,000 — two weeks’ wages — but redemption was immediate as he climbed off the substitutes’ bench here to create one goal and score another in a convincing triumph.
“John has been disciplined because he breached the rules,” O’Neill said. “John thinks there are mitigating circumstances and I’m always prepared to listen.
“I listened to what he said and then I made a decision he was wrong. But it’s not a problem – he’s been disciplined, he’s been fined and that’s the end of the issue.
“It was a large oversight on his part, so consequently he’s been fined. Most of the players in the dressing room are saying it should be doubled!
“John assures me it won’t happen again so I will believe him. He’s been fined pretty heavily as it wasn’t the brightest thing to do.
“I think he thought that he wouldn’t be playing (against Ajax) but he hadn’t been told beforehand so he shouldn’t have been out.
“It’s been dealt with and he assures me it won’t happen again. Up until next week I will probably believe it.”
Carew’s introduction for Gareth Barry, who hurt his ankle in the 53rd minute, breathed new life into Villa as an attacking force.
His header was bundled into the net by Gabriel Agbonlahor in the 57th minute and then Agbonlahor returned the favour by providing a cross for Carew to head home.
Substitute Steve Sidwell curled in a delightful fourth in the last minute to cap a fine win after Barry’s 22nd-minute penalty put O’Neill’s men in control.
“It was a great performance and a result I had not expected,” O’Neill said. “With us having played on Thursday night, it was a concern, but there were some terrific performances all told.”
Defeat was especially hard for Wigan manager Steve Bruce – who managed Villa’s rivals Birmingham for six years – to stomach.
He pointed an accusing finger at his defenders and Titus Bramble in particular.
The former Ipswich and Newcastle centre-back continues to make costly mistakes and Bruce admitted there was no justification for his lunging tackle on Agbonlahor which conceded the first-half penalty.
“For me it was a penalty,” said Bruce, himself a former centre-back. “There are no excuses because Titus should stay on his feet.
“Again, it was a glaring error of judgement by him. We are all told that you never go to ground when you don’t have to in the penalty area, so I’ve got no complaints.”
WIGAN (4-4-2): Kirkland 5, Boyce 5, Bramble 5, Scharner 6, Figueroa 5, De Ridder 5 (Taylor 81, 5), Palacios 6, Cattermole 6 (Brown 81, 5), Kapo 4 (Koumas 46, 5), Zaki 5, Heskey 5.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Kilbane, Camara, Cywka. Booked: Palacios.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2) : Friedel 7, L Young 7 (Davies 78, 6), Laursen 7, Cuellar 7, Shorey 7, Reo-Coker 7, Petrov 7 (Sidwell 84, 7), Barry 8 (Carew 54, 8), A Young 7, Agbonlahor 8, Milner 6.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Knight, Gardner.
REFEREE: Michael Jones (Cheshire) 7: Let the game flow, got the penalty right and used his cards sparingly.
MATCH RATING: *** Fine result for Villa, and a deeply impressive performance.
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