Making Plans for Nigel
Nigel Pearson seemed to be a shoe-in for the Aston Villa manager job. He was the man seemingly best suited for the task ahead – to turn losers into winners, to instil effort, spirit and graft, and to get Villa promoted ASAP.
He had backers too. Villa’s short-lived football board selected him from a supposed original list of 50 managerial candidates. David Bernstein said live on BT Sport, before the Chelsea game, that Villa were getting an English manager. Brian Little when asked by the Villa Fans Consolation Group what qualities the next manager should have, pretty much described Pearson down to a tee and Villa chairman Steve Hollis, said in an interview last week, after the announcement of Tony Xia’s purchase of the club, that the next manager would be a Brit.
With all this evidence in Pearson’s favour, the announcement on the new Villa manager that was promised to Villa supporters this week, really should have served up only one name. But now with the Premier League and Football League’s ‘fit and proper’ tests dragging on, it seems it has given incoming owner Tony Xia time to have second thoughts and at the time of writing, the latest odds show Pearson at 3/1, the second favourite.
UPDATE: Nigel Pearson has been announced as the new Derby boss, with Chris Powell as his assistant manager.
No doubt he’s been advised by Keith Wyness, to perhaps get in a name with a bit more profile and cache.
Wyness seemingly used his previous relations with David Moyes to try and coax him into the job at the last minute, if recent press reports are to be believed, but it seems that Xia was always more impressed by Di Matteo’s Champions League win at Chelsea.
The due diligence already done by the club on its next manager seems to have been discarded, as it seems that Xia is now dead set on the Italian.
Making Plans for Nigel II
It’s been reported that Nigel Pearson has been speaking to Derby to become their manager for next season. After missing out on the play-offs, having Pearson at the helm will certainly give the Rams an added edge for renewed promotion push, making them formidable competition for Villa in the push for promotion.
Also, Rafa Benitez confirming that he will stay on at Newcastle, certainly makes the Geordies the favourites for the Championship title.
But, it’s all about getting your own house in order and Villa current situation is bleak and has been for a while.
Di Matteo’s Double Question Mark
One thing that is noticeable about Di Matteo’s previous managerial history is he has always tended to inherit decent teams relative to their league. MK Dons, previously managed by Paul Ince, were promoted and won the FA Trophy in the season before Di Matteo took over. He lead them to a losing play-off.
He took over a relegated but talented West Bromwich team who were strongly favoured for a instant return, even before Di Matteo walked through the door. He guided them up, but then became unstuck in the Premier League and was sacked in February, after a poor run of form.
Di Matteo only lasted just one season at Schalke too, who had a decent team and were already in the Champions League. He did lift them from a mid-table to finish sixth and qualify for the Europa League. He then resigned, citing differences between the club and his ambition.
At Chelsea, he inherited a powerful team, but was successful in lifting spirits and galvanising the team to win the FA Cup and follow in Tony Barton ‘caretaker’ shoes to win the European Cup aka Champions League. Yet, he wasn’t fancied to be Chelsea boss full-time for the following season.
MOMS has spoken to a journalist who was close to WBA and he questioned Di Matteo’s application as Baggies boss in his second season, essentially saying, he wasn’t one for doing over-time and rolling his sleeves up.
So, far Di Matteo hasn’t completed two full seasons as a manager with any club and has never been around long enough to build his own team. What is a Di Matteo team? Remains a question, without a proven answer. Can he build a team from the roots up and get promotion within a year? That’s certainly what’s on Xia’s bucket list for next season.
The main reason for cynicism is mainly due to the high stakes involved in being the next Villa boss. This is a team that managed only three wins in a season and needs a complete rebuild, yet Villa need to get promoted sharpish and preferably at the first time of calling.
To his credit, teams seem to respond well to Di Matteo, at least in the short-term, as his time at Chelsea and WBA, especially suggests. Having been a player of some standing in his past, no doubt helps garner respect from players too.
In the final analysis, MOMS would probably take Di Matteo over Tim Sherwood, Paul Lambert, Alex McLeish and Remi Garde, but the nagging doubt is, is he the right man for the specific job ahead next season?