Angel eyes Europe
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel thinks a European place is a realistic aim.
Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel thinks the Midlands club have a realistic chance of claiming a European place next season.
The Colombia international feels the arrival of Martin O'Neill as manager and American businessman Randy Lerner as the club's new owner have given The Villans a major boost.
The former River Plate hit-man has spent six years with the Villa Park club, but thinks this season is Villa's best chance to claim European football for next season.
"When I joined Villa, I didn't know that much about the club, but everyone was saying we were going to move forward," said Angel.
"They were saying a lot of new faces would be coming in and the aim of the club was to get into Europe.
"It hasn't happened so far. I am very grateful for so many things from this club, but one thing is for sure - we should have done better on that front.
"Now I think we've got the right man in charge to do it. He's been doing it for many years at Celtic and I can't see why we are not capable of getting into Europe this year.
"It will be a great opportunity. Since I have been at the club, it has been up and down.
"We have to start getting consistency - a good football club are challenging for Europe every year. Everyone here wants to do that.
"It is as if everything has clicked again. The spirit is good.
"The togetherness is back again and I think we have missed that a lot in the past two seasons."
Meanwhile, Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has paid tribute to fellow Dane Martin Laursen following his recovery from a career-threatening knee injury.
The former Milan defender put in a fine performance in Saturday's goalless draw at Watford, having missed nearly all of last season with the knee problem.
"Martin has not played since August 13 last year, but against Watford, he looked as though he had not missed a game for about 10 years," said Sorensen.
"I called him a couple of months ago to try to keep his spirits up and the earliest he thought he could be back was January next year.
"He was in Italy for about eight months working by himself, and to do that and still come back requires so much character.
"Martin looks as though he has never been away and that is a credit to nobody else but him, to his hard work and talent.
"The pressure was on him after signing for Villa and then hardly playing, but he is back now and he will show how good a player he is."