After a season of failure on the field, most notably at Villa Park, Alex McLeish has paid the ultimate price with his job, @trevkeane looks at the favorites to take on the role to revive one of the sleeping giants of English football.
The Scot proved an unpopular choice with the majority of fans when appointed last summer given his links with the club’s cross city rivals Birmingham not to mention his penchant for direct football and during a turbulent 11 months at the helm he failed to win over the Villa Park faithful.
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner will be keen to address the mistake of last summer and bring in a man that can restore Villa as a top 8 club. It is important that the American makes the correct choice especially with fans disillusioned after a season when the former European cup winners flirted with relegation, Sportsnewsireland’s @trevkeane looks at the merits of the early favourites for the role.
The Wigan manager has seen his stock rise further this season namely on the back of a fabulous end to the season when he led the North West side to Premier League survival. Big results against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool showed that he could mix it, tactically, against the big boys.
The former Swansea’s brand of football is really pleasing on the eye as is his ability to work with a small budget however he turned down the chance to move to the Midlands last summer and despite being the early favorite it remains to be seen if Randy Lerner would make a second move.
Wigan owner Dave Whelan has indicated that he would not stand in Martinez’s way should “one of Europe’s big club’s” come calling although whether he counts Villa in that bracket is not apparent at this stage.
Two successive promotions and mid table safety have ear-marked former Celtic star Lambert as one of Britain’s brightest young managers.
Like Martinez, Lambert likes to play attractive football and despite his insistence that he would remain with Norwich he will have no doubt being flattered to have heard his name chanted by the Villa fans during his side’s 2-0 final day win over the Midlander’s.
The former Liverpool manager has been out of a job since his departure from Inter Milan and he has indicated that he would like to return to the Premier League. The former Valencia manager was linked with the Chelsea role earlier in the season but missed out due to a reported insistence on a long term deal.
The La Liga and Champions League winner has the pedigree that Villa fans crave not to mention extensive contacts within the game.
The fact that he is a free agent would appeal to Lerner as would his ability to work to budgets as witnessed from his time with Liverpool. The 52 year old would no doubt bring a Spanish feel to Villa Park and while the football may not be as attractive as Lambert and Martinez he would produce a team that is hard to beat.
The Italian has been linked with the West Brom hot seat following the departure of Roy Hodgson and has reportedly already had talks with the club however the he could be tempted to put his name forward for the Villa job.
The fact he has experience in England from his Chelsea days would help his case although since his departure from Stamford Bridge in 2004, the 60 year old has failed to last more than two seasons with a club following spells with Atletico Madrid, Parma, Juventus, Roma and Inter Milan.
Roberto di Matteo
The interim Chelsea manager has seen his stock rise once again following a successful spell in London. Since taking charge in February, the former MK Dons and WBA manager has led the club to the FA Cup and the final of the Champions League although he failed to guide the club to the much coveted champion’s league spot.
Di Matteo has earned his spurs in the lower league of English football helping the MK Dons to the League one play offs before taking West Brom in to the Premier League as Championship runners up. Like Martinez and Lambert, Di Matteo likes to play an attractive brand of football and at 41 he is at the younger end of the football management spectrum.