Aston Villa are finalising a shortlist that they hope will lead to a swift managerial appointment being made, possibly as early as the start of next week, after Alex McLeish was put out of his misery and sacked on Monday.
Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martínez and Paul Lambert at Norwich City are the early frontrunners, with Swansea City's Brendan Rodgers also likely to come under consideration as Villa step up their search for a young and hungry manager capable of reinvigorating the club.
Martínez is the early favourite for the post and it is understood that Villa's failure to land him last summer, when they were looking for a successor to Gérard Houllier and eventually turned to McLeish, would not discourage the Midlands club from trying to lure the former Swansea manager again. Lambert, who was coy when questioned about his future following Norwich's 2-0 victory over Villa at Carrow Road on Sunday, is in Villa's thoughts as well but is also believed to be on West Bromwich Albion's radar as they pursue a replacement for Roy Hodgson, the new England manager.
While it is unclear at this stage how easy it would be prise Martínez from Wigan – Dave Whelan, the club's chairman, said last month that the Spaniard "will go to one of the top clubs in Europe with my blessing" — Norwich have sent out a defiant message regarding Lambert.
"We would not welcome any inquiry for our football manager or any of the club's football players," David McNally, Norwich's chief executive, said. "We will do everything we can and fight this as hard as we have ever fought."
McLeish's dismissal at Villa came as no surprise after a disastrous season in which the club did not secure their Premier League status until the penultimate match. They finished the campaign in 16th place, only two points clear of safety and amid mounting unrest among the club's supporters.
Attendances fell away dramatically and McLeish faced ferocious abuse towards the end of the 2-1 defeat at home against Bolton Wanderers last month, which was watched by Randy Lerner and proved to be a tipping point for the Villa owner. From that point on McLeish's position was untenable and it became a matter of when and not if he would be sacked.
Paul Faulkner, the club's chief executive, flew to America last week to hold talks with Lerner about McLeish's position as concern grew about the path the club were on with the Scot in charge.
Faulkner met McLeish on Monday and told the manager that his three-year contract had been terminated before he had got as far as 12 months, leaving Villa facing another seven-figure sum in compensation on the back of the £12m spent in "exceptional charges" in 2010‑11 relating to changing the club's "management personnel".
Villa's fans, however, will deem that almost any price is a price worth paying to get McLeish out of the club. They never accepted him from the moment he arrived, although that had more to do with his record of being relegated twice with Birmingham City and a reputation for playing dull football than the fact that he came from their arch-rivals. Villa won only seven Premier League matches during McLeish's time in charge and managed 37 goals in 38 fixtures. Entertainment was conspicuous by its absence.
Lerner's comments in the statement that Villa released on Monday afternoon were damning in relation to both McLeish's tenure and Houllier's nine-month reign. "We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years," Lerner said. "Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent. The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations."
Thank god they know why we didn't want him, the BBC have been damn right ignorant towards the situation and I have lost all respect for there football journo's
to be honest the Guardian is my far the best news source for Football. Some of their blog style articles are nothing short of epic.
a new article has just been posted as well:
There is a sense of deja vu at Aston Villa. A little less than 12 months after Gérard Houllier's brief and thoroughly underwhelming reign as manager came to end, Alex McLeish drove out of the club's Bodymoor Heath training ground for the last time on Monday, sacked on the back of a season that proved to be even more disastrous than the one that had gone before.
Villa, in other words, have got two managerial appointments wrong in quick succession. They can ill afford to make it a hat-trick.
In the case of Houllier, there were mitigating circumstances, with Martin O'Neill's decision to walk out on Villa five days before the... leaving the club high and dry when it came to scouring the market for a replacement. Houllier, however, still felt like a left‑field choice. He had not managed in the Premier League for six years and had suffered serious health problems in the past which would resurface later in the season and contribute to his early departure in June last year.
What followed was a mess. Villa invited Steve McClaren for an interviewbut then cancelled on him after an angry backlash from supporters on message boards. Next they tried and failed to lure Roberto Martínez from Wigan Athletic. And then they made the decision which is still hard to fathom to this day, not because McLeish was with Birmingham City, Villa's arch rivals, but because he had just suffered his second relegation in three Premier League seasons and was synonymous with a negative brand of football that leads to draws and a lack of goals.
Villa, in short, got what it said on the tin when they gave McLeish a three-year contract last summer. Although McLeish is an amiable man and has handled the abuse he has received this season in a dignified manner, the brutal truth is that his teams are boring to watch. Villa won only seven Premier League matches all season, managed just 37 goals in 38 matches and finished with 38 points, only two more than relegated Bolton Wanderers.
Randy Lerner, the club's owner, has not been able to visit Villa Park on many occasions this season but he watches matches on a live feed from the United States and has sat in frustration at the depressing events unfolding in front of him. Last month, however, Lerner had first-hand experience of just how bleak things had become on and off the pitch at the club, when he dropped in to Villa Park for the game against Bolton. Villa lost 2-1 and the supporters directed ferocious abuse at McLeish. It was the tipping point for Lerner.
He made the decision to stick with McLeish for the final three games of the season but it was never going to be any longer. McLeish's position had become untenable. Attendances had plummeted, the fans protests were loud and clear and results were calamitous. Two points were collected in the games against West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur to drag Villa over the line before the season finished with anabject display against Norwich City which sealed McLeish's fate. "Brutal" is how one club insider described the performance at Carrow Road.
Villa had to act and they did so swiftly, cutting McLeish loose less than 24 hours after the season ended. Lerner and Paul Faulkner, the club's chief executive, got that decision right and now they must follow it up with an appointment that will galvanise and revive the club and give the supporters something to cling to after two miserable seasons. Lerner admitted as much in the statement that accompanied confirmation of McLeish's dismissal yesterday afternoon.
"We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years," Lerner said. "Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent. The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations."
Villa are still putting together their shortlist but they want a young and hungry manager who will reinvigorate the club, which should be music to the ears of the club's fans. Martínez, who is the early favourite, Brendan Rodgers at Swansea City and Norwich City's Paul Lambert would all appear to fit the bill, and it is possible an appointment could be made as early as next week.
Hiring and firing managers has become an expensive business for Villa, who revealed in their last set of accounts that they spent £12m in "exceptional charges" in 2010-11 relating to changing the club's "management personnel". McLeish's sacking will come at a cost and it looks likely that more compensation will have to be paid to another club for their manager. It has never been in doubt that Lerner is willing to put his hand in his pocket for Villa. What he now needs to do, though, is recruit a decent football manager.
Any one instead of Mcleish is a step up for me.
If we can get a manager in a couple of weeks that would be nice so he can get time to assess the squad get rid of the deadwood and persuade some quality players to join our club.