The Next Manager of Aston Villa: Eight Possible Candidates
Following the shock resignation of Martin O'Neill less than a week before the start of the new Premiership season, Aston Villa have been thrown into disarray.
Whatever the reason for the decision—the sale of James Milner to Manchester City, suggestions that Ashley Young is to be sold to Tottenham, or a lack of funds have all been put forward—Randy Lerner has a very important decision to make and very little time to do so.
He will be looking to have a new manager in place before the game with West Ham on Saturday, giving the new man the opportunity to make his moves in the transfer window and work with the team before the first game.
There are a number of candidates for the role. The club has finished in the top six of the Premiership for each of the last three seasons and is clearly an attractive prospect for any manager looking for a new job.
The early favourite with the bookmakers, Alan Curbishley performed miracles at Charlton on a very limited budget. His impact at the club has been seen in their demise since his departure.
He saved West Ham from relegation, following his appointment at Upton Park, before leading the club to a top-10 finish the following season. However, he left the club early in the '08/09 season following a disagreement with the club over the transfers of a number of players out of the club.
Alan Curbishley would be an uninspiring, if relatively safe choice. He has a proven Premiership record on limited budgets, which could be a factor if reports are to be believed. However, it would not give the impression of an ambitious club and may lead to a number of key players considering their futures.
Bob Bradley is an interesting outside tip for the job. He has impressed during his time in charge of the USA and is known to be interested in challenging himself in the European game in the near future.
The fact that current Villa owner Randy Lerner is a fellow American lends further credibility to these rumours.
It is suggested that were Bradley to be appointed at Villa Park, his son Michael Bradley would likely follow him to the club. As well, there are rumours that Landon Donovan would also be a major target for the club.
Personally, I would be quite interested to see Bradley at the club. He has a decent enough record at both the club and international level, and hopefully he could attract the better American players to the club. Although his lack of experience managing at the highest level is a worry.
After his time in charge of the national side and a disappointing spell in charge of Manchester City, Sven tends to be linked with the majority of job openings in the Premiership. He has gone on record saying that he would like another opportunity to manage in the Premiership.
Sven has proven quality as a manager, although the past decade has been a little disappointing as far as he is concerned. He would be a decent choice, but his wage demands are likely to rule him out of the running.
A popular manager during his spell at Tottenham, many fans were disappointed to see him leave. His Ajax team played some fantastic football last season, only being pipped to the title by Steve McClaren's Twente side.
He was the first choice to replace Roy Hodgson at Fulham, but Ajax were unwilling to release the Dutchman.
He has Premiership experience, having several impressive seasons with Spurs. He would be an extremely popular choice if he were offered the chance to succeed O'Neill at Villa Park. The only hitch would be whether Villa could convince Ajax to release him where Fulham failed.
Another name that seems to be linked with most Premiership openings. Klinsmann had a great run as the German national team coach at the 2006 World Cup, but his first foray into club football was disappointing, lasting less than a year at Bayern Munich.
Klinsmann would be a risky choice to replace O'Neill, having little experience of coaching. He is a high-profile name, and whether he could use that to attract players to the club would be interesting, but it would be a surprise if Villa decided to go for such a risk at this time.
Manuel Pellegrini has had success at most clubs he has managed. Titles in South America were followed by a successful spell at Villarreal in Spain, who he led to the semi-final of the Champions League.
A spell at Real Madrid followed, but he was sacked despite a record total of points to be replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Pellegrini would be a real coup for Villa were they able to convince the talented Chilean to make the move to Villa Park
Gareth Southgate is a former Aston Villa captain, leading to suggestions that he could be brought back to the club as manager. He had a number of years at Middlesbrough, but without a great deal of success.
The former Villa link is undoubtedly the main reason behind the suggestions of his return to the club, but his previous record is not overly impressive. It would be a surprising choice, and probably not the most popular.
Kevin MacDonald is currently the caretaker manager at Villa Park. He has been a member of the backroom staff for a number of years and has been the manager of the highly successful Aston Villa reserve side, leading them to three straight Southern Reserve League titles. He has no experience as a manager though.
He would be the cheap choice, to promote the inside man. Whether he would be a popular choice is unlikely, although his success with the lower levels inside the club would give some hope for the future.
Regardless of who takes over at Villa Park, he will have a major challenge ahead of him. Having lost James Milner, and with speculation surrounding the future of Ashley Young, he will be looking to bring stability to the club and ensure that their star players remain at the club.
With less than a week until the start of the season, and less than a month left of the transfer window, it is vital that Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner make the decision quickly to give the new man as much time as possible to make his impact on the team.
However, it is without doubt the most important decision that Lerner has had to make since buying the club four years ago.
The reasons for the departure of O'Neill will surely be revealed in the coming days, but if they concern a lack of funds, it will only add to the problems of the new incoming manager.