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Betting on the worst: who replaces Steve Bruce at Villa Park?

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For the second time this season, we speculate as to who could take over if Aston Villa sack their manager in the coming weeks.

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Is John Terry the next manager of Aston Villa? Apparently some people tend to believe it could happen.
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

It was only the 16th of August, and at that time, our Alex Carson was tasked with putting together a list of names that could replace Aston Villa manager, Steve Bruce. This was the case because as he put it:

Aston Villa fans are increasing in support of sacking Steve Bruce.”

Obviously much to the chagrin of many supporters, history has seemingly repeated itself after Aston Villa’s disappointing 2-1 defeat at Brentford. Exhibit A: this scene from Griffin Park on Tuesday night.

It’s phenomenal that just four months later, we have to discuss another list of managers that could step into the hot seat at Villa Park. That previous sentence was an example of an old fashioned American “...not joke.”

This list will use a combination of names with betting odds on Paddy Power, as well as some of those from our previous effort. Unlike the article from August - which you should revisit - this will be far less analytical.

The lack of analysis is simply because you would have to be having quite the session to consider placing your hard earned quid on some of these managers potentially replacing Steve Bruce.


The purported favourites...

  • *Nigel Pearson (OH Leuven), Odds: 11/2

Pearson was briefly at the helm of Derby County. His tenure there ended after just four months due to - surprise, surprise - an internal investigation into his heated confrontation with the club’s chairman.

Previously he had earned a feather in his cap for his run with Leicester City in both the Championship and Premier League. That tenure also ended in a controversy over some rather unsavoury behaviour from his son and other players whilst on a preseason tour of Thailand - there is no need to provide a link for that.

It’s obvious Pearson gets some credit for Leicester’s incredible run to the Premier League title. This is the case because he is currently the manager of OH Leuven in the Belgian First Division – who knew?

OH Leuven’s chairman is Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha. The Thai billionaire also serves as vice-chairman of Leicester City. His family’s conglomerate, King Power, owns both clubs.

Thus even though Nigel Pearson has had his share of controversies, he must know how to do something right.

With his personality and acumen, it seams feasible that he could come to Aston Villa and provide a promotional spark for an underachieving, but talented side.

  • John Terry (unattached?), Odds: 7/1

This is a prime example of where things get highly speculative. Sure Terry is a leader of men. Does that qualify him to be a player-manager for a Championship side fighting for promotion?

Most rational Villans should know the answer to that. Get healthy, be a rock as our captain, and we’ll do what your asking John:

  • Martin O’Neil (Republic of Ireland), Odds: 7/1

Whilst his time as the Republic of Ireland manager could be limited, and Aston Villa probably could do worse, the re-hire of MON?

If this happens, unlicensed “Make Aston Villa Great Again” hats should be sold.


The middle of the pack...

  • *Alan Pardew (West Bromwich Albion), Odds: 17/1

At this point, it would be incredibly shocking if ‘Pards’ were to make the 6.4km journey from West Brom to Villa Park. Should he potentially make the move and Aston Villa achieve promotion whilst the Baggies get relegated:

  • Gary Rowett (Derby County), Odds: 20/1

Now this is a good shout. The Bromsdale native is reported to be a boyhood Villa supporter.

On top of that, his Championship record at Derby County has been outstanding:

35P: 18W – 9D – 8L, 63 points and a positive 18 goal difference

The only thing is, Rowett has guided the Rams into the thick of the fight for automatic promotion. If Bruce were to be sacked, one would have think Villa are teetering on the edge of another season in the Championship.

Would he leave Derby for Aston Villa? That could be a tough ask.

  • Robert Di Matteo (unattached), Odds: 20/1

If you’ve got some £’s to throw away, have at it. In the words of Jesus Quintana:

  • Patrick Vieira (New York City FC), Odds: 20/1

The 41-year-old Frenchman has been linked with jobs in Europe. He was reportedly contacted by Saint-Etienne earlier this year. Vieira has also been mentioned as the next U.S. Men’s National Team manager.

Credit to him for admitting he wasn’t ready for that job. Even though he’s clearly rated as a young and talented manager, it could rightfully be suggested that Patrick Vieira is probably not ready for what he would face at Villa Park.

  • Neil Lennon (Hibernian), Odds: 20/1

The Northern Irishman could be a name to watch. Lennon was quite good at Celtic as he won three titles, two Scottish Cups and also took them to the Champions League twice.

Lennon’s gamble to move from Celtic to English football didn’t pay-off as he left Bolton by “…mutual consent.”

He has since taken the job at Hibernian. Last year, he guided them to a championship and promotion to the Scottish Premiership.

This season, Hibernian sit fourth and Lennon has signed a contract extension. With him there would be plenty of questions. However, his resume - at least in Scotland - is not bad at all.

  • Ryan Giggs (unattached), Odds: 20/1

The title of a headline from his recent interview with The Times of London said:

I am more suited to coaching in top leagues than at bottom clubs.”

He seems to have turned down Swansea City out of spite. Clearly he has learned under the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Louis van Gaal.

Would Aston Villa be big enough to satisfy, what appears to be, his massive ego?

  • Steve Clarke (Kilmarnock), Odds: 20/1

Some probably forget that Clarke was the assistant manager at Villa Park during Roberto Di Matteo’s short tenure.

Since not being retained by Steve Bruce, Clarke has gone back home and taken the Kilmarnock job.

He’s got a decent pedigree, but his appointment likely wouldn’t inspire many to feel like Ashley Schaeffer.

  • *Derek McInnes (Aberdeen), Odds: 20/1

The Aberdeen manager was actually one that Alex Carson had on his list. As he noted, McInnes has taken the club to three consecutive second place finishes in Scotland.

The Dons look capable of matching that result again this season. If Villa were to bring in McInnes, all Villans would be in dreamland if he could somehow replicate the success of another Scot who managed Aberdeen and moved to England:

Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
  • Michael O’Neil (Northern Ireland), Odds: 20/1

Given the job he’s done in four years as the Northern Ireland boss, the 48-year-old could well be a name to watch if Dr. Tony sacks his second manager.

O’Neil efforts have led him to be linked with the openings at a number of clubs. The Scottish F.A. is also said to be keen on him as their next national team manager

A tidbit of information, he was recently awarded a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for:

“…services to Football and the community in Northern Ireland.”

Aston Villa can count the future King of England as one of its supporters. Just putting that connection out there...

  • Jaap Stam (Reading), Odds: 20/1
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Could the Dutchman who looks a bit like Mr. Clean come in and erase what surely would be a sense of misery around Villa Park?

He did have Reading a converted penalty away from the Premier League. They aren’t exactly pulling up trees this season, but Stam might be a name on the radar.


They are not likely happening...

  • Frank Lampard (unattached), Odds: 25/1

The bookies must just be doing word association with the sensational future headline.

  • Gary Megson (unattached), Odds: 33/1

He has a long career as both a manager and assistant coach in English football. Megson was recently an assistant to Tony Pulis at West Brom. However, he has been the subject of criticism for treating his players like “…15-year-olds.”

Not sure a manager who literally enjoys a shout, would be the best fit.

  • Thomas Tuchel (unattached), Odds: 40/1

This name conjures up memories of this scene from the steel mills of Northwestern Indiana.

  • Graeme Souness (unattached), Odds: 40/1

Probably best he continues his career in punditry.

Warburton appeared on Alex Carson’s list of names and he’s got a pretty decent record in the Championship. However, there are rumblings that he could be in trouble at Forest.

From a betting perspective, if you’ve got a few quid to put on Mark Warburton at 50/1, it would not be the worst wager.

  • Roger Schmidt (Beijing Guoan), Odds: 50/1

This one might not be completely out of the question, as it seems possible that Dr. Tony could look to China for a manager.

In nearly three seasons as manager of Bayer Leverkusen, Schmidt won 49% of his games. Prior to that, with Red Bull Salzburg, he earned a domestic double in Austria.

The German looks at least a viable longshot.

  • Paulo Sousa (Tianjin Quanjian), Odds: 50/1

He did seem to have a penchant for scouting Aston Villa players whilst managing Fiorentina the past few years (e.g. Carlos Sanchez and Jordan Veretout).

Like his cohort above, it is probably unlikely he’d leave his post in China as the wages there are madness.

  • *Markus Weinzierl (unattached), Odds: 50/1

The 42-year-old German has long been considered a top young manager. This was so much the case, that he too was mentioned by us this past August.

Weinzierl did not exactly shroud himself in glory at his last gig. Schalke sacked him after just one season. This will not likely happen, but looking at some of the other names on this list, the claret and blue could likely do worse.

  • Bob Bradley (Los Angeles FC), Odds: 50/1

Take it from a ‘yank,’ this is the reaction all supporters should have knowing that Bradley has a pretty plush MLS job in beautiful Los Angeles, U.S.A.:

  • Harry Redknapp (unattached), Odds: 50/1

"I love animals so much, all animals. Apart from cats, I’m a little bit scared of cats."

Given Hercules, Bella and Chip’s presence at Villa Park on matchdays, the prospect of taking over the club will hopefully terrify him.


Nearly all of these are simply not going to happen...

  • Louis van Gaal (unattached), Odds: 50/1

Was it previously suggested that Ryan Giggs can be a bit of a p***k?

His name is ironic considering the fact that Pulis and Boro could potentially put the final nail in Steve Bruce’s coffin this Saturday. Surely his recent appointment and dreaded brand of football would keep him out of the picture.

  • Vítor Pereira (Shanghai SIPG), Odds: 50/1

The Portuguese took over so Andre Villas-Boas could pursue racing. Again you’ve just got to assume that at Shanghai, he too is just swimming in Chinese Yuan.

  • Christoph Daum (unattached), Odds: 50/1

This was the first name that led to the question of – “who?” Recently sacked as manager of the Romanian national team.

  • Juande Ramos (unattached), Odds: 50/1

He managed at Spurs, so hell...let’s set him at 50/1.”

  • Alan Curbishley (unattached), Odds: 50/1

See Graeme Souness above.

  • Jurgen Klinsmann (unattached), Odds: 50/1

Anybody remember this article from the Birmingham Mail in 2015? He’s been linked before, but given the situation he’d likely inherit, not sure he’d be the man for the job.

  • Avram Grant (unattached), Odds: 50/1

Avram Grant had one great season at Chelsea that has since allowed him to build a diverse CV. He’s just another name that is not going to happen.

  • Chris Hughton (Brighton), Odds: 50/1

He’s not leaving the south coast of England.

  • Thierry Henry (unattached), Odds: 50/1

Dwight Yorke will also want the Aston Villa job if Steve Bruce is sacked. Here’s video to wash down some of this ridiculousness:

  • Roy Keane (Republic of Ireland), Odds: 66/1

You probably wouldn’t put it past him to go full-on Tinchy Stryder.

  • Manuel Pellegrini (Hebei China Fortune), Odds: 66/1

That is such an apt name for a Chinese Super League club.

  • Sean Dyche (Burnley), Odds: 66/1

He’s been an incredible steward of Burnley Football Club. At this point, what Villain wouldn’t swoon over Dyche’s voice in the Villa Park pressroom? However, supporters would be fooling themselves to think he would leave for Aston Villa.

  • Chris Powell (unattached), Odds: 66/1

Might as well bring in Steve McLaren.

At a time in the recent past, Wagner’s name would have made sense. If Steve Bruce does end up getting the axe, this now seems like it would be quite the stretch.

Much like with Chris Hughton, Wagner’s name being linked would inevitably lead the to the existential angst caused by the question:

Are Aston Villa still a big club?”

  • Claudio Ranieri (FC Nantes), Odds: 66/1

Dilly ding, dilly dong!” With Nantes comfortably sitting in 5th in Ligue 1, the Italian seems to still possess a magic touch.

  • Garry Monk (unattached), Odds: 100/1

We have seen Monk’s name mentioned on social media. Him being considered would likely not be entirely beyond the pale.

However, supporters at his two most recent clubs don’t seem to be too keen on him. The former Leeds and Boro boss apparently has some Fabian Delph-like qualities:

  • Laurent Blanc (unattached), Odds: 100/1

There’s no doubt that he’d be working with the same type of budget he had at Paris Saint Germain.

  • David Cameron (unattached), Odds: 500/1
Birmingham Mail

There were genuinely odds for this one. However, if the former Etonian and Prime Minister took charge at Villa Park, surely any European football would be marked by an exit.


Back to reality...

Obviously things got out of hand with some of those who are getting odds to be the next manager at Villa Park.

That said, people have been proven to bet on just about anything and bookies are in the business of taking advantage of that reality.

The truth is, the aforementioned list doesn’t include many names that would be entirely realistic if come next Tuesday, Steve Bruce and Villa are in fact facing a crisis.

If you have not figured it out by this point, the managers with an asterisk next to their name were mentioned by Alex Carson this past August.

On top of those, he also suggested plenty of other managers that would probably be given a look by Dr. Tony Xia and the board. Those include the likes of Paul Heckingbottom, Lee Johnson, Slaviša Jokanović, Aitor Karanka, Mick McCarthy, Olof Mellberg, and Dean Smith.

Given the success they have had in the Championship this season, it would not be out of the question to see names of Neil Warnock and Chris Wilder linked with a potential vacancy at Aston Villa.

Anytime a manager at a club like Aston Villa is sacked, the rumour mill is bound to rapidly churn. In an ideal scenario, Villa can right the ship under their current boss and get a run of results that make this all just wasteful speculation.