Two weeks ago on Wednesday, Martin O’Neill walked out on Aston Villa 3 days before the start of the season in what was not a surprise departure but a badly timed one. O’Neill’s resignation over the funds at his disposal left Villa with experienced youth team coach Kevin McDonald at the helm but this was seen as a temporary replacement for O’Neill.
McDonald who is well respected at Villa may not be ready to step in as the number one man at Villa Park leaving many people speculating who will be the permanent boss at Aston Villa. McDonald got off to a great start with the win over West Ham United, who themselves had a new manager in Avram Grant. It was an emphatic victory which seen the Villains win 3-0 in front of their home support who saw goals from Stewart Downing, Stilian Petrov & James Milner. This was also to be Milner’s last game for Aston Villa as he moved to big spending Manchester City for a reported £16 million pound move along with Stephen Ireland moving in the other direction.
The James Milner transfer money was the reason O’Neill left the club as Villa’s American owner Randy Learner was not going to give O’Neill much of this money if any at all to spend on reinforcements. However the victory over West Ham gave people the feeling that if McDonald could keep up this type of form he would become the manager at Villa for sure.
Despite a positive start against West Ham & Rapid Vienna last week everything seemed to fall flat for Villa & McDonald as they suffered a huge 6-0 loss away to newly promoted Newcastle United which seen Andy Caroll net his first senior hatrick. This lacklustre defeat which saw Villa completely outplayed and embarrassed along with the USA manger Bob Bradley putting his name into the hat for the job it leaves many questions as to where does Villa and Kevin McDonald’s future lie.
The Contenders –
Kevin McDonald – McDonald may deserve a little more time with the job as he understands the club as he has been working their for almost 15 years. He also knows many of the people around the club and knows every players positives and negatives. However he seems to lack the ability to be a manager at a club like Villa who have finished 6th the past 3 seasons in a tough premier league. Verdict – Let McDonald stay temporarily if the boys on the board believe he will become the manager if he does well, if not, let him go back to coaching and get someone in before the transfer window finishes.
Bob Bradley – The Bookies favourite put his name in for the job a few hours before the Newcastle game and is very interested in the chance to work at Villa. He has proved himself as a good international manager with the USA and led them to a Last 16 place in the World Cup where they lost to a well fancied Ghana side. there is also the factor that Bradley is American and that may go down well with the owner Randy Learner who is of course American and perhaps that is why he is the bookies favourite.
However the problem is even though he seems to get the best out of a limited squad and limited options he has no experience managing in Europe never mind a contender to be competing for European spaces in the English Premiership, this lack of experience may go against him.
Verdict – A little early for him, even though he is a good manager maybe bringing him in just now is a little risky as the club does seem to be moving down a notch and Bradley could help them move down an extra notch which isn’t good. However the bookies are very rarely wrong.
Sven Goran Eriksson – The former England, Man City & Lazio manager has just finished another wealthy contract with the Ivory Coast during the summer at the World Cup where him and his side failed miserably. Eriksson always seems to be linked with the English premiership jobs and always has his name involved somewhere. He was linked with Portsmouth and West Ham United before Avram Grant funnily enough took over both sides. He has over 25 years of experience all around Europe but always works best when he has millions of pounds to spend like he did at Lazio however at Villa this is not the case. Without money he’s not really anything special he has an eye for a player and an eye for money but would be a wrong choice for Aston Villa. Verdict – Just no his spells at Mexico & the Ivory Coast prove that his best is behind him now.
Martin Jol – The Ajax and former Tottenham Manager has proved himself as one of the best dutch managers around and understands the game very well and most importantly the English game very well. He proved his tactical ability at Tottenham where he proved that he knows the game. He led Tottenham to two 5th place finishes and was perhaps unfairly sacked for the former Sevilla manager Juande Ramos who was a DUD at Spurs. He then went to Hamburg who he nearly won the Bundesliga & German Cup with and then to Ajax where finished second in the Eredivise to FC Twente and by doing that he helped Ajax score 108 goals in 34 league games which was incredible. Verdict – If I was the owner of Aston Villa he would be In my head before Bradley or McDonald as he is one of the best out there that Villa can get. However if I’m Martin Jol I would not leave Ajax for Villa just now as Ajax are a club on the up.
Ronald Koeman – The experienced Dutch manager as proved himself to be a top manager in Holland . Koeman won the Eredivise with Ajax twice and was the last man to do that as Ajax haven’t won the title since 2004. He had been Ajax’s best manager for a long time maybe up until Jol just now. He also won the Eredivise with PSV Eindhoven in 2007 and has shown that he can be a top manager in Holland. However not all of his managerial jobs have been great. Despite winning the Copa Del Rey with Valencia it was an overall disappointing tenure their for the Dutch Legend as it was for him in Portugal with Benfica where he failed miserably. His last job was in Holland with AZ Alkmaar where he only last 6 months and only won 7 games in 16 which was very poor especially because the season before AZ had won the Eredivise. Verdict – No, he has proved himself in Holland with the two top clubs but when with a team that hasn’t already been built he has proved to be a poor manager. Also his time in Spain & Portugal perhaps showed that outside Holland he doesn’t really cut it. He wants the job but Villa shouldn’t want him.
Ignored candidates – These are two candidates who have been ignored it seems by the bookmakers and Aston Villa but whom I would see as a good choice to become manager over all these candidates apart from perhaps Martin Jol.
Alan Curbishley – The Former Charlton Athletic & West Ham United manager has proved that he has the credentials and know how to manage a club like Aston Villa. At Charlton, Curbishley took them from wannabes to a premiership mid-table team which was an over-achievement from the club and Curbishley. As soon as he left Charlton they got relegated two leagues in three seasons and now languish in League One and wish Curbishley was still their and they where still in the premiership. Then he went too West Ham who he saved from relegation along with Carlos Tevez and then took them to a cosy 9th place position in the league before he left in similar circumstances to O’Neill. He is currently unemployed and would jump at the opportunity and if I where Villa he’d be top of my list well before Bradley, Eriksson or Klinsmann.
Sam Allardyce – The most underrated manager in English football has again been ignored for a top job in his native country. The former Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United & current Blackburn Rovers manager has proved himself to be a top manager and has shown he can get the best out a average players and has an eye for a play also. At Bolton he took them from Division One to the premiership and over 6 years turned them into a European contender year in year out. He left Bolton for Newcastle where he only got 6 months but seemed to improve the toon army and perhaps didn’t get enough time.
At Blackburn he did what previously mentioned Alan Curbishley did with West Ham he saved them from relegation in 2009 and took them to 10th place in the league last season and it looks early on that he can repeat that this season. Villa have always been considered a “bigger” club that Blackburn but with supposedly a new rich Indian business man planning to buy Blackburn and give Big Sam the money (£100 million to be exact) to take them to the next level Allardyce would hold onto Blackburn for now.
Overall verdict – Personally if I’m Villa I would target Martin Jol, Alan Curbishley & Sam Allardyce but I believe that Kevin McDonald may go back to coaching and that Bob Bradley will probably be the next Villa manager but it is still very uncertain.
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