It’s been less than a week since Gerard Houllier left the club, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s felt like three months. I’m sure that the majority of you, like me, spend every free moment reading anything and everything to do with Aston Villa. Sometimes I wish I didn’t care about the club as much as I do, I’d be more constructive for one, but these feelings never last. I simply click the next story and waste more time reading the same points. I love it, and I love that a football club can make me feel this way.
Moving on and in relation to the headline, then there is the small matter of our next manager that I’m choosing to ignore for this article. Obviously it’s a pretty big deal but it’s been debated so much and I don’t think anyone really knows anything different at the moment. Over to Randy and the board to choose the next man and let us all hope they make the right decision….I have faith they will.
Now on to (Shock horror) other Aston Villa news and first up is some quotes from Martin Laursen saying how he would love to be our manager…..one day.
“It would be great to be Villa manager one day. That would be a big dream But that’s a long way off. It’s certainly not in the near future. I need a lot more experience first.
“In the future, it would be fantastic – a very big honour.”
He also says that he is starting the process towards gaining his coaching badges in December and we here at Up the Villa wish you well. I hope Villa follow his progress and that he joins the coaching staff at some point in the future. It’s almost seems to be that he is destined to be a top manager, and of course I would love for that to be at the Villa. Obviously that is a long way off, but it would be great to get him at the club, move him up through the ranks and almost groom him to be our future number one. How can a man like that not inspire you?! I’ve seen him in interviews since his retirement and he has some great footballing ideas. Forget Milner (close one though!), forget Barry and forget Young if he goes, Laursen is the player we miss the most.
Now on to Mr Tom Hanks and his random love for our great club. I remember when he first announced it a few years ago, and it always makes me smile thinking that one of the most well-known people in the world is a Villan, mainly because it’s so surreal! Speaking before his latest premiere, Hanks offered his latest musings:
“Come on the scarlet and blues, come on boys.”
“I fell in love with Aston Villa because I thought the name sounded like an island off Sardinia.
“A lovely place to go. ‘I am going to go on holiday to Aston Villa. We’ll take the kids, play on the beach, get a lovely cabana overlooking the football field’.
“Is Brian Clough still alive? Can he take over?”
Absolute quality and a nice bit of light relief. It boosts the clubs profile, it’s free publicity, it adds to our impressive list of famous fans and who knows, it may make Carlo change his mind knowing an oscar winning actor supports the mighty AVFC!
To finish now a bit of speculation saying that we still have an option on Michael Bradley and it’s up to the next manager to decide if they want him. I think there is a good player there somewhere, and I wouldn’t mind if we signed him up on the cheap. It was always going to be tough for him to get game time, especially with the predicament we found ourselves in. We need a defensive midfielder now NRC has gone, and if we can get him for a good price, I think he could be a decent signing.
No doubt we’ll be discussing managers in the next post, and hopefully by that time we’ll have a clearer idea who will be the next man in charge.
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What a crazy crazy few days. I’ve said it before but it is never ever boring supporting Aston Villa, and this is another chapter in what has been a particularly nuts 12 months.
The last time I wrote an article on our possible managerial candidates, I actually stopped half way through after Mark Hughes resigned, and was pretty sure he’d be our next man in charge. I think everyone did. The bookies stopped taking bets, and it looked for all the world he’d be the centrepiece of clichéd photos holding a scarf aloft on the Villa Park pitch. Then the club went and threw a monumental curve-ball and stated that in fact, we weren’t interested in securing the Welshman’s services.
Who knows if this is actually true or not, and at the time of writing he is still favourite with the majority of bookmakers. As many have pointed out, it’s not as if the club would actually come out and say they were interested in Hughes, for fear of tapping up allegations. There is also the fact that he cannot speak to a club until the end of this month and for the moment he is on ‘gardening leave’…..I’ve always wondered what that actually means. Will we see Hughes as our next manager? Who knows. Would I be surprised? Hell no.
Moving on to a lot of peoples favourite to be our next manager (move over David Moyes), and apparently we are very interested in Carlo Ancelotti. The Birmingham Mail (and to be fair they were the first to report that we wanted him, even when Hughes resigned) are reporting that Ancelotti is aware of our interest, and is thinking over the possibility of becoming our new number one over the weekend. I have said it previously but what a signal of intent this would be by the board. He is one of the best managers around and not only would he be able to attract players of the highest calibre, he would also be able to keep them here. Here’s hoping he’s up for the challenge, what a monumental day in our history that would be.
On to a few other candidates and Jol has finally been mentioned, although I think he may well replace Hughes at Fulham. Martinez is reportedly being offered a new contract at Wigan, although I think it wouldn’t be a disaster if he somehow ended up at Villa. He’s young, he wants his teams to play good football and he is a great believer in his squad. It was really admirable to see the way he supports his players, and you could see in the last few games they gave everything they had for him. A few old Villa boys insist on bigging up Steve McClaren for the job. Please stop. I am not denying he is a good coach, but we need an appointment that will unite the fans….McClaren is not the man. Benitez is still being linked and although I am not as opposed to his potential arrivals as others, I would still rather see another name get it.
Whoever is the next manager is going to have a bit of work to do, as yet another player has left the club. I think that is 11 now in total, with more inevitably leaving in the next few months. The latest player is Brad Friedel and firstly we’d like to wish him well in the future. He has been good for us, is pretty consistent but I think the time is right to look elsewhere. There are a whole host of good goalkeepers available at the moment, and the links to Blues number one Ben Foster seem to be heating up. He would probably be my top choice, although I was pleased to see us finally linked to Kieren Westwood, who would be an absolute steal on a free transfer. There are also reports that forgotten man Stephen Warnock is wanted, and it would appear he has no future at Villa, even under whoever our next manager is. While it is a bit worrying to see so many players leave, it is good to see us bring the wage bill down whilst getting rid of the deadwood in the process. Remember that we are still left with the core of a very good side. It is going to be a bit of a rebuilding task for the next manager, but with the talent we have here already, I don’t think it will be as big as some fear.
Lastly today and there are a few pretty sad words from Gerard Houllier who admitted he ‘almost died’.
“The doctors advised me to not resume before late in August or early in September, so it was a problem,”
“The officials were also scared my comeback could be postponed again at that time. I can understand that. The risk exists.
“They [Villa] are still traumatised with what happened last year, when Martin O’Neill left five days before the start of the season. So they didn’t want such a possibility to happen again.”
“Coaching is my job, my life, my passion,
It is clear the man loves football and again I would like to thank Houllier for everything he did for our club and wish him all the best in the future. You did the right thing in stepping down and your health has to be the most important thing. We couldn’t afford to find ourselves in another situation like last summer and hopefully a manager is appointed relatively soon….I don’t know if I can handle waiting too long!
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So Gerard Houllier has left us and once again we here at Up the Villa would like to wish him all the best in the future. We wrote it on our Facebook page but it’s important to point out that despite it being a tough season, Houllier was responsible for a lot of good things.
You brought up a number of our younger players and gave them plenty of game time, you let the previous favourites know that you are not guaranteed a spot in our starting eleven, you changed our whole fitness routine and instead of ending the season in disappointing style, we finished it with a number of hugely impressive wins and of course you brought Darren Bent to Villa Park. Not a bad legacy Mr Houllier, and I hope in the future you stay healthy, and return doing the job that you love.
Now on to our next number one and we thought we would take a look at the top candidates for what remains one of the top jobs in football.
First up is the bookies favourite Mark Hughes.
As I said he is the bookies favourite and odds on with the majority of them. Everything does seem to point to him and with his contract clause at Fulham it appears that we may be able to appoint him on the cheap, something that may appeal to the board after handing over millions to our two previous managers. A number of fans seem underwhelmed by Hughes but I tend to think he would be a good appointment. He has enjoyed relative success wherever he has managed, and has a win percentage of 42%, only one percent lower than fan favourite David Moyes. As a Welshman I can vouch that he completely turned our national side around, certainly no easy task! He had Wales playing great football, playing as a unit and with belief and beating some of the best sides in the world. Since heading to club management he has fared relatively well without ever doing something extraordinary. I think this would be a safe appointment, and with the players we have at the club he could create something special. He also got the very best out of Stephen Ireland, and he could be the attacking midfielder we’ve been crying out for. He is well liked, respected and quite young, although news of him potentially being our number one hasn’t really got the fans too excited.
Current odds: 5/4 (best price).
As mentioned I am Welsh, so don’t hold the same negative feelings towards this man that a lot of you guys will. From everything I have read, he would be a hugely unpopular appointment, and would create an air of negativity around the club before the season even started. One defeat and a number of fans would be on his back and heckling the board, something that would not be productive for anyone. He is currently second favourite, and there have been a few reports stating we are potentially interested in him. Looking at the positives he was number 2 at Manchester United during one of their most successful periods, and highly regarded by those who worked with him. He also did well at Middlesbrough winning the league cup, getting to the final of the UEFA cup and also took unfashionable Twente to a league title. He has also had a few failures though at Wolfsburg and of course while at England. I cannot see a situation where the board would appoint McClaren to be our new number one, and as mentioned there is no doubt it would an incredibly unpopular decision. Now is the time to unite the fans, and he’s not the man to do that.
Current odds: 9/2 (best price).
I just wrote that the next appointment has to unite the fans, and there is no doubt in my mind that this man would. One of the finest managers in Europe, it would be a watershed moment were AVFC to appoint a man of his stature. He has enjoyed success both in the U.K. and on the continent. He is of course without a club after his ridiculous sacking at Chelsea and while he wouldn’t come cheap, sometimes you have to shock the world and go for the best. His odds have shortened all day, and there are a few links that suggest that journalists in Italy think he may well be the next man in charge at our great club. If he could convince his old mate Wilkins to be his number two yet again, I don’t think any Villa fan would be too disappointed. There are those who may worry about his knowledge of our young players but I am sure that he wouldn’t let our talent go to waste. Would be a massive coup.
Current odds: 5/1 (best price).
I was going to list a few more, but the breaking news is that Mark Hughes has quit as Fulham boss, it has to be doesn’t it?!
Although there are reports that Ancelotti may be our new man, so confused!!!!!!!! At least we’re not messing around this summer.
I will leave you with this, last time we had a managerial vacancy the four final candidates were Sven Goran Eriksson, Kevin MacDonald (who I really rate by the way!), Alan Curbishley and Gerard Houllier. Look at the candidates this time around. Of course there will be those who are disgruntled whoever we bring in but this time around we have a real chance to secure a top manager.
Let’s make it happen and get firmly behind the new man in charge.
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