O'Neill admits he never expected Aston Villa to struggle this season - especially given the club's £130million outlay on transfers.
"My own view was that they had a super end to the Championship season," he explained. "They were the best team in it by a long distance, I felt.
"I honestly thought that they wouldn't have too much difficulty in staying up. They've put some money in, a lot of money in, some people say between 130 and 150 million pounds.
"So, I didn't expect them to struggle at all this season. I expected it to be difficult, but not to struggle."