SELF-CONFESSED shooter from the lip David O'Leary said he will become the 'Quiet Man' as he begins his new job as manager of Aston Villa.

The former Leeds United manager ended his 11 months in the wilderness by agreeing a three-year contract with Villa in succession to one-time England boss Graham Taylor, who quit the Midlands club last week.

O'Leary headed a stack of big-name candidates including Alan Curbishley, Micky Adams and Bryan Robson to land the job and one of his first stated aims was to rid himself of his 'Mr Opinionated' tag, which he cited as one of the biggest mistakes of his four-year term in charge at Elland Road.

That eventful reign in which he led Leeds to successive semi-final appearances in the UEFA Cup and then Champions League ended in acrimony when he was sacked.

Determined to elevate Villa from their current lowly standing in the elite to 'the top six where they belong', the 45-year-old O'Leary, who still lives in north Yorkshire said: "It was a tough job at Leeds and I have learned a great deal.

"Yes, I made mistakes and I've learned from them. The biggest one is that I became too opinionated in newspapers and you won't have that from David O'Leary again."

However, the former republic of Ireland and Arsenal defender could not quell himself from a parting shot at the people behind his Leeds' exit. He said: "I was disappointed to be sacked because I thought I did a good job.

"I thought I bought well and sold well and I wonder how the people who did sack me feel because look at where Leeds are now."

During his absence O'Leary said he had been offered several jobs, but none had appealed until now. He has become Villa's tenth manager in the last 20 years and he will come under the scrutiny of one of the top-flight's most demanding chairmen, Doug Ellis.

Said O'Leary: "I could have come back earlier but this is the type of job I have been waiting for.

"Other offers I've had didn't feel right but this one is right and I am delighted Mr Ellis has given me this opportunity. I wanted to go to a club where I believed I could do things."

He revealed he had talks with Ellis and his board for several days leading up to his appointment and could well be running the rule over possible targets when he takes in tonight's UEFA Cup final between Celtic and Porto in Seville.

Speculation was also gathering that he might be preparing a raid on his former Leeds United club, who are battling against debts of almost £80million. Ace Australian duo Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell could top his summer shopping-list.

O'Leary's appointment earned the backing of current and former Aston Villa stars.

Midfielder Ian Taylor, who had fallen from favour under the regime of Graham Taylor, declared: "We've got good youngsters at the club and he did bring through a good crop at Leeds. Perhaps he can do the same here."

One-time goalkeeping hero Nigel Spink echoed the belief that O'Leary had a good reputation in the game for helping to nurture young talent.

"It's a job that he is going to have to work really hard at and it will be a big challenge for him, but I am sure he will be relishing it," said Spink.

"I don't think it is a bad appointment. We have a promising crop of youngsters. Hopefully David O'Leary can bring them on and bring in a few players as well."

Meanwhile, current Leeds boss Peter Reid is interested in Liverpool midfielder Patrik Berger. But Reid is believed to be concerned whether the Czech Republic international can withstand a full season in the Premiership after serious knee surgery last term.

Updated: 09:59 Wednesday, May 21, 2003