Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Aston Villa Job - A Hospital Pass

With the pushing of Gerrard Houllier out the door on medical grounds, a new broom is required at Villa Park for what must be one of the least inspiring positions in the Premiership.

Since winning the old European Cup - a truly fantastic achievement it must be said - Villa have continued to underwhelm with the only the odd glimmer of hope during the periods of Graham Taylor, David Platt and Tony Daley and the early days of John Gregory. Martin O'Neil was supposedly their own much cliched Messiah but even he could not muster a finish above sixth place and one must wonder what any manager taking the job can hope to achieve despite their tradition, excellent stadium and both loyal and large fan base.

The top six places next season would look fairly clear cut with the twin clubs from Manchester, both of North Londons' finest and both Liverpool and Chelsea. Despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth from those from the second city, ninth place was achieved in the Premiership by Villa this season. Assuming this blogs' prediction on the top six is correct, that means that any prospective candidate can only hope to achieve an improvement of two places before hitting their glass ceiling.

Randy Lerner is by all accounts a decent Chairman, he is also no fool and he knows that even an investment of 50-100 million would do little to guarantee a top four finish. That being the case then why even bother trying? Steady Champions League revenues have meant that it is essentially a closed shop save for the odd slip up from Liverpool and now the entry of Manchester City with their oil rich benefactors.

Mark Hughes is touted as a preferred candidate and a good one he would be. One would wonder however why Hughes would risk his reputation further after his misguided acceptance of the City job. With Fulham decent results are seen as a positive and an enhancement to his credentials, he also has the Europa League to look forward to and the hope of one of the big guns swooping should he do well. At Villa he can realistically achieve little that they have not done in the past few seasons and the truth is he can only either maintain the status quo or disappoint, it is a highly unattractive job.

For Allardyce at West Ham, the only way is up, Hodgson took on a relegation threatened West Brom and saved them whilst Dalglish replaced him at Anfield and took on a fallen and wounded club that he can resurrect. The Chelsea job will presumably come with a hefty cheque book and for whomever is fool hardy enough to take over from Ferguson, well it is still ManYoo after all. For anyone taking over at Villa Park however one would surely have to ask 'why?' No Nonsense.