By the end of this Barclays Premier League season, fans might see the relegation of three established Premier League clubs. With the other clubs in the relegation battle, one thing for certain is that Aston Villa will be playing Championship football next season. A big club in the history of the England game, the old cliché of ‘no team is too big to go down’ is certainly on show in this season of unpredictability. It is no surprise to witness the demise of Villa in recent seasons especially when you consider the neglect of the club from owner Randy Lerner who is desperate to sell the iconic club. The managerial movement from the club since the exit of Martin O’Neil has signalled the problems surrounding the club. Common knowledge in the English game now is that in order to compete clubs need to spend, the job Paul Lambert done during his period at the club now looks miraculous considering he constantly had to deal with selling his top players and working with a shoestring budget in order to keep the club in the top tier of English Football. Tim Sherwood who had been earmarked as a top prospect English manager was given the job of replacing Lambert after his sacking, and had an immediate impact, keeping the club in the division during the 2014/15 season and leading the club to the FA Cup final where they failed to compete getting beat four nil by winners Arsenal. Sherwood was supported with a hefty transfer budget during the summer however the club failed to make use of this money. The recruitment during the summer of 2015 has come under heavy scrutiny, the influx of players from the continent especially France, these were business transfers not transfers to establish Aston Villa among the Premier League elite. From the sacking of Sherwood the club turned their attention to Remi Garde, a highly regarded coach in France however he lacked the drive and the passion to manage a club in the Premier League, especially a side with the problems of Aston Villa. From top to bottom the club is in disarray, the supporters are still turning out and getting no reward and are now using the games at Villa Park to voice their displeasure at the team and more vocally towards the club’s hierarchy and how they have effectively let them all down. The club now is looking for their next manager after the dismissal of Remi Garde; a decision on the next manager will certainly shape just how quickly the club can return to the Premier League. The Championship is one of the toughest leagues to endure and will be a long haul of a season, appointing the right manager is key to the club, a view recently shared by current first team coach and the man taking temporary charge Eric Black.
The club has to be smart in the next appointment and certain factors might come into effect when determining the next manager. The importance of gaining a manager with experience of the Championship is essential; the club simply cannot afford to take any more chances on a foreign manager or a manager with little experience. Since the exit of Remi Garde most of the speculation has brought the names of Nigel Pearson and David Moyes as the two top contenders for the job. Nigel Pearson is perhaps the man who knows the divisions more, his two spells at Leicester seen him taking the club from League one to the Championship, then taking the club to the Premier League and surviving the drop last season. Pearson would no doubt bring an element of stability to the club, his no nonsense attitude would bring out a fighting spirit from the squad. Surprisingly Pearson is still unemployed, after the brilliant recovery to stay in Premier League last season; surely Villa would have to consider Pearson among their favourites to take the club forward again. David Moyes without question would prefer to manage at the highest level however his options may well be limited this summer. After his stint in Spain after his perhaps unfair dismissal at Manchester United, Moyes really needs to build his reputation again. An opportunity for an immediate return to the top with Aston Villa might be the ideal way for Moyes to prove himself yet again. If David Moyes receives the chance to work in the Premier League again this summer will determine whether or not we might see Scotsman at Villa Park.
The end result of the Championship promotion race could very well be the outcome Aston Villa is potentially waiting for to appoint their next manager. The links of Sean Dyche with the vacancy will become clearer if his current club Burnley can return to Premier League this season, which at this stage is looking very likely. Another name that is appearing more and more when talking about the job is Steve Bruce. The current Hull City manager would certainly be a controversial appointment given with his history as the manager of Birmingham. With Hull outside the automatic promotion places and falling further back in the race for promotion, his own position will undoubtedly come under attention. Bruce has invaluable knowledge of both the Championship and the Premier which is what the club are looking for. If Hull does not achieve promotion this season then a move to Villa Park for Bruce could very well look to be on. Mick McCarthy has also found his name linked with the job and would perhaps be the smartest appointment Aston Villa could make. During his time at his current club Ipswich, McCarthy has worked wonders, almost taking the club to the Premier League last season via the playoffs and not too far off the playoff positions this campaign is a job that perhaps only McCarthy could achieve. Despite previous spells in the Premier League with Sunderland and Wolves McCarthy looks to have rebuilt his name in English football with Ipswich. Working on an extremely tight budget McCarthy has done a great job in developing the clubs young players and bringing in the right types of players with knowledge on the division, certainly qualities Aston Villa will be looking for next season. Villa could potentially sell the job now as a project and as a chance to bring stability to the club. It will be inevitable there will be an overhaul of players from the current squad to the squad they will line-up with in the Championship. The job would be an opportunity for names such as Garry Monk, Steve Cotterill, John Carver and perhaps even Brendan Rodgers could be very appealing and an opportunity to build and also re-build reputations in the game.
Undoubtedly the squad will undergo major surgery this summer; the high earners will look to be shipped out of the club, summer arrivals Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards have been massively disappointing for players with their experience, while Gabby Agbonlahor has been a massive disappointment over the last 2/3seasons now. The club pressing forward will inevitably let the high profile names that have their contract expiring in the summer move on, these are Charles N’Zogbia and Kieran Richardson who both have not performed to a great standard for the club. Despite a traumatic season for the club, they do have players who they can make good money from a sale or they could perhaps get one season out of. Summer arrivals Jordan Amavi, Adama Traore, Jordan Ayew, Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Veretout are all young players who are highly regarded throughout Europe so the club would have no shortage of clubs looking to poach some of their players. The club will be looking to keep hold of a core group of players who know the Championship as well, Rudy Gestede would be almost a new signing himself if they managed to keep a hold of him for next season. Scott Sinclair is a player with great quality but needs the right direction from a manager who trusts in him. Ashley Westwood is a calming influence in the team and has a good knowledge in the heart of their midfield. Ciaran Clark and Alan Hutton would be other names the club will work to keep as they do show a passion to play for the club. The future of Jack Grealish will undoubtedly be the new manager’s choice, the youngster has tremendous ability but the reputation he is building puts him across as a difficult player and a possible negativity in the dressing room. The promising young names such as Andre Green, Jordan Lyden and Rushion Hepburn-Murphy would certainly be names to watch out for next season for the club. The return of Nathan Baker, Joe Bennett, Gary Gardner and Callum Robinson from their each respective loan spell will add a core of British players for the new manager, each gaining invaluable experience of the division. Adding quality and experience will be a challenge for whoever the next manager is, but if they can get the right man in the door selling the club and the project will be very appealing to players they look to bring to the club.
Essentially the massive concern for both the fans and the club is to not go down the road of other clubs who have been relegated from the Premier League with another relegation to League One. Appointing the right man is crucial now; Nigel Pearson and Steve Bruce are looking the two managers in pole position for the job according to the bookies. Given the choice Mick McCarthy would be the direction I would be looking at right now.