Big Ron told the Sunday Mercury: ‘‘To be fair to Martin O’Neill he normally does try to put out a strong side whatever the competition is, even in the Carling Cup.
‘‘But you could see last weekend that his mind was made up to go for a top four finish and rest players in Europe.
‘‘We loved the European nights in my time at Villa Park, but the UEFA Cup has changed since then.
‘‘We always put out a strong side, they were glamorous nights and we played some of the biggest sides in Europe.
‘‘It’s all about more games these days, trying to make more money and inevitably it gets less competitive."