A new name has emerged in the Aston Villa managerial rumor mill; former Manchester United winger and current Molde FK manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. The 39-year-old Solskjær is of course best known for his 11 seasons and 235 appearances for the Red Devils, but his brief managerial career has been an impressive one; three successful seasons coaching the United reserves (during which time he was offered the Norway national team job) and one season at Molde, during which he led the club to its first-ever Tippeligaen title. That's not exactly an extensive track record, but it as least one of success.
To be completely honest, I have no idea how to feel about this, and that's kind of fun. I'm used to having an immediate reaction whenever a new and plausible sounding rumor emerges, but this time? Nothing. And that hasn't really changed all that much despite my having spent the morning reading up on Solskjær and Molde, mulling over the possibility all the while. That's not really something I'm used to, but I feel like it could very well be a good thing. I do my best to judge managers on their performance, but there's no question that my emotions come into play. I was willing to give Houllier a lot more time than I was McLeish because I like Houllier a whole lot more, despite the results not being much better for a good portion of their time in charge. I'd like to think the contrast between Villa's end-of-season performance these past few years justifies that somewhat, but the point remains that no matter how analytic one hopes to be, emotion and opinion are bound to come into play.
If Solskjær ends up being hired, that's not likely to be the case (for me, of course. Plenty of Villa fans seem thrilled with the idea, and I'm sure there are plenty ready to buy a crate of bedsheets as soon as word comes down.) Like I said, that's new. And it's important to keep in mind that this rumor came out of nowhere and has been at least in part influenced by betting lines, a notoriously awful source of "news." But there's no reason to think that the interest isn't real, and that's yet another indication that the board may well be approaching this from a completely different angle than they have in the past. Seeing as how the restrictions they placed on themselves the last few go-arounds have significantly limited their options, that's a highly encouraging sign of progress.