Finally, the transformation of a new Aston Villa is taking shape. With outgoing owner Randy Lerner, a week or two away from his exit, the most important piece of Villa’s short-term future was finally come with the arrival of a new manager, with Roberto Di Matteo officially announced to take the Villa hot seat today.
Former favourite for the position, Nigel Pearson, confirmed at his unveiling press conference at Derby that he had met Randy Lerner and had meetings with Villa chairman Steve Hollis.
“It didn’t happen for various reasons,” said Pearson. “I can’t really talk on behalf of Aston Villa, sometimes things happen.”
There’s no doubt Pearson probably had expected to have the job. Villa’s previous board member David Bernstein had announced the new manager was going to be English and Hollis admitted just over a week ago the new manager would be British, there’s no doubt that Tony Xia and his team made the U-turn of bringing Di Matteo in.
Xia no doubt favours the fact that Di Matteo won with European Cup with Chelsea, and sees that as potentially extending the appeal and profile of Villa in his native China, where he intends to build the club’s appeal.
Many Villa fans will know the reality of the situation though, and Di Matteo’s triumph with that inherited talented Chelsea team means little when you’re trying to rebuild a team from scratch in the Championship. Also, there’s the fact that Di Matteo hasn’t managed in England for almost four years.
Despite previously getting the Baggies promoted from the Championship before, if many Villa fans were unconvinced by Di Matteo on his own, then the appointment of Steve Clarke as his assistant has certainly made it a lot easier to swallow.
Ok, they both got fired by West Brom in recent years, but while Clarke has struggled to make his mark as the main man, his credentials as a number two cannot be questioned.
He was Jose Mourinho’s right-hand man in the Special One’s successful trophy-winning first stint with the club and also has experience in the role at Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool.
There’s no doubt Clarke will be an asset at shaping things up at Bodymoor Heath and also bringing discipline to the backline too. As a package, Di Matteo and Clarke is probably as good as Villa could have hoped for in light of the circumstances, although question marks still exist in terms of their player recruitment – with Di Matteo being away from the English game, especially.
There’s still a way to go in terms of completing the backroom staff, with a technical director also mooted to be in place before the transfer window opens.
We’ll have more on Villa’s new (hopefully) dynamic duo, but in the meantime, at least the wheels are finally turning at Villa Park.
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