James Milner claims Newcastle messed him about regarding a move to Aston Villa


“As is often the way with these things, it dragged on towards transfer deadline day before Newcastle accepted an offer. I drove down from Newcastle to sign for Villa but when I pulled up outside and got out of the car Martin O’Neil said to me ‘They’ve pulled the plug.’ I initially thought he was joking. I didn’t know him - he had only just taken over from David O’Leary - but he said no, Newcastle had changed their mind and were refusing to sell. I couldn’t believe it, I was in Martin’s office raging. Martin said I may as well do the medical and sign the forms anyway in case Newcastle agreed to do it. Rather than wait around I went to my parents place in Leeds and watched the end of transfer deadline day on Sky Sports News, still hoping there would be some kind of breakthrough and the deal could go ahead. You know the feeling when you’re watching deadline day and your heart is telling you there’s still a certain chance a deal will go through but your head is telling you it’s pretty much over?

“Well that was me on deadline day that year. The deal didn’t happen. Newcastle had been trying to sign Mark Viduka from Middlesbrough, but that had fallen through so they pulled the plug on my deal. I really did feel like I was in limbo after that because I went away with England under-21s and I wasn’t back at Newcastle until the following week. At that point Glenn Roeder said to me ‘This is great. I never wanted you to go anyway. You’re part of my plans.’ Great, I thought, that was exactly what I wanted to hear. But then Saturday came and and we were at home to Fulham and I wasn’t even on the bench. It was the angriest I’ve ever been with a manager. I went into his office and said a few things I shouldn’t have done. I was fuming, It’s the only time I have been like that in my career and it’s simply because it was ridiculous for them to pull the plug on the deal and then not even put me on the bench.“After that I got my head down, grafted and managed to force my way into the team. I had a good season in the end but it left a sour taste in the mouth.”

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