MOMS gave its opinion on 30 managerial candidates for the Villa job yesterday, here is another writer’s view on the type of managers Villa could go for…
By Chris Heath
On Tuesday night CEO Tom Fox made most Villa fans’ dream come true when he picked up the phone and called Paul Lambert from America to relieve him from his contract as Aston Villa manager. The Scotsman was believed to be less than impressed than he was denied a face-to-face meeting with Villa’s CEO, but after what the former Norwich manager has done to this prestigious club, breaking every unwanted record you could possibly think of, he should be grateful of not being informed by text or email.
With the club sitting in 18th position with 22 points, wallowing in the relegation zone for the first time this season, an experienced manager is needed to maintain Villa’s every present record in the Premier League since its inception in 1992.
The season started with 10 points from the first four games, including 1-0 victories against Stoke and Liverpool at The Britannia and Anfield respectively. But suddenly alarm bells have been heard around Villa Park with a downhill spiral down the Premier League table. The club have suffered relegation fears for five consecutive seasons, but it is looking like this season the danger is very real and could see the club relegated to the Championship, if fortunes don’t improve swiftly.
It isn’t time to hire a manager with a one page CV, Randy Lerner must act now and dig deep in his suit trouser pockets for a manager with experience and if possible a place for Aston Villa at heart. Relegation from the Premier League, with the introduction of even more lucrative TV rights coming into effect in 2016, would be financial disaster for both the club and Randy Lerner’s mission to sell to the right party.
From the endless list of candidates I have picked out four, plus one familiar outsider, who should be in the frame to inherit the ‘poison chalice’ that is the Aston Villa manager’s job.
The Marquee Choice
Some Villa fans’ dream appointment would be of current US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. That fantasy could become a reality as both Randy Lerner and Tom Fox are American.
Winning the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with the USA is Klinsmann’s greatest honour as a manager; the German’s attitude is exactly the opposite of what Villa fans have had to endure over the last two and a half years.
Klinsmann’s stunning playing career includes 108 caps and 47 international goals for his country over a prestigious seven year spell; only Gerd Muller (68) and Miroslav Klose (71) scored more. West Germany’s 1990 World Cup triumph was the pinnacle of his international career. Those honours culminated in the legendary German front man being named Germany manager in 2004 and leading them to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup.
Despite that achievement he declined to extend his contract with the national side and returned to international management in 2011, taking over from Bob Bradley. The former Bayern Munich coach reached the last 16 of last summer’s World Cup, eventually being knocked out in extra-time by Marc Wilmot’s highly regarded young Belgium side.
The no-nonsense self-motivator would be the kind of marquee appointment that would lift the spirits of everyone around Villa Park. Whether he’d give up California for the Midlands is another story though.
The Calculated Choice
The current Spartak Moscow manager Murat Yakin, whose reputation preceded itself during five years at FC Basel. During those five incredible years the former Switzerland centre-back won two Swiss Super Leagues in 2013 and 2014, two Uhren Cup (pre-season competition) in 2012 and 2013 and beat Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side both home and away during the group stages of the 2013-14 Champions League. He also masterminded knocking Tottenham Hotspur out of the 2012-13 Europa League.
Yakin is the elder brother of Swiss football legend Hakan Yakin and enjoyed the best years of his playing career with home-club Basel, enjoying both domestic and European success as captain and a defensive stalwart.
His presence on the touchline, similar to Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simone style, brings out the confidence in players, an attribute the whole Villa squad is currently lacking. A ‘never give up’ attitude which Basel regularly displayed under his direction will hopefully cure the curse of a lack of goals at Villa Park and on the road.
The Wild Card
A potential appointment of Burnley’s current manager Sean Dyche would be an interesting move to say the least. Currently tasked with keeping the Lancashire outfit in the Premier League Dyche has instilled a balance between confidence and discipline at a club many predicted would struggle in the top level of English football.
Once a member of the England Under-21 backroom staff, the tactical aware individual replaced Eddie Howe as Burnley manager in 2012 and celebrated the club’s promotion back to the graceland for the first time since 2010. The squad that day is not that different to the one today, with a well-disciplined and hard-working ethos, who won’t lie down until the final whistle has been blown.
Time will tell if the former Watford manager will leave his post at Turf Moor to take over a similar, but debatably more challenging task at Villa Park.
The Mundane Choice
After only a few months after jetting off to Sunny Spain to take over as Real Sociedad manager, couldDavid Moyes catching a return flight from tranquil Basque Country in San Sebastian to the second city be on the cards?
The former Everton manager was never the right individual to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, with the Scot’s reputation left in tatters after building such a sought-after reputation during his 11 years at Everton. Moyes built a squad at Everton, constantly challenged for the top four, on a budget less than Paul Lambert’s. He signed players like Seamus Coleman, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill for peanuts and when required to replace players like Wayne Rooney etc. he signed current club captain Phil Jagielka, first-choice England left-back Leighton Baines and versatile midfielder Steven Pienaar.
The Scotsman enjoyed a season of European Cup with Everton when the blue half of Merseyside qualified for the 2007-08 UEFA Cup. Ultimately reaching the last 16 before being beaten by Italian outfit Fiorentina on penalties.
Even though Moyes has only been Real Sociedad manager for less than three months, his mid-table side have already beaten Barcelona 1-0. Randy Lerner is known to have a found interest in Moyes’s abilities, attempting to lure Bill Kenwright’s man away from Goodison Park on more than one occasion.
I would be willing to forget his disaster at the Theatre of Dreams, more like the Theatre of Nightmares, if Lerner was to make a move.
The Bookies Choice
The clear bookmakers’ favourite for the post Tim Sherwood only has six months managerial experience from his time at Tottenham Hotspur during the second half of last season; the side he played for over four-years.
Taking over from the Andre Villas-Boas, he was able to motivate players, who ultimately respected him from his playing career with the club. What worries me is Villa need a manager with a lot more experience than just six months in the dug-out.
Would his appointment be an improvement on Paul Lambert’s tenure at the club? After all Lambert had at least one decent season of Premier League experience with Norwich before getting the Villa job.
Visits to Villa Park to watch matches whilst Paul Lambert was still at the helm by Sherwood suggests he is known to Tom Fox. But if he was on the radar, surely an appointment before the visit of local rivals Leicester City in the FA Cup on Sunday would have been on the cards?
Aston Villa need an experienced manager who can instil the confidence that was present at the start of the season and control the discipline factor that has seen the club have five players sent-off this season; the joint-highest in the Premier League with Swansea City (5). Also, instead of messing around with an interim appointment, if possible it would be preferable to break the bank to get their long-term choice now.
If money was no object (to cover compensation packages) my choice to fill the void in the home dugout at Villa Park would be current Spartak Moscow manager Murat Yakin.