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Vacancy at Aston Villa: Who should Villa turn to?

Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens are reportedly looking to make a splash appointment to replace Steve Bruce

The current Celtic boss is a name that has been linked with the job.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Much like Roberto Di Matteo in 2016, the 3rd of October was not a great day for Steve Bruce as it marked the end of his tenure at Villa Park. Why? Well yesterday, for the second time in exactly two years, Aston Villa sacked their manager.

His departure was not entirely surprising given that the claret and blue had struggled recently, winning just one of their last ten. Whilst a change in manager was decidedly needed, especially after Cabbage-Gate, Bruce does deserve some credit for showing immense character during personal hardship last season.

As the song that has often rang out at Villa Park after a victory of late says, “…don’t look back in anger.” It is now up to the new owners and CEO to find, as well as sign, their high-profile manager of choice.

With that said, speculation amongst bookies, the media and ‘Villans’ has been rampant. We have tried to combine all three to come up with a list of candidates that seem to potentially be under consideration for the vacancy at Villa.

The purported favorites:

  • Sam Allardyce (unattached)

It is no surprise to see his name amongst the betting when it comes to any opening in high-level English football.

Big Sam’ certainly might not be flashy, but his record can best be described as steady.

He has never been relegated in the EPL and did a job last season to take Everton from flirting with relegation to finishing in the top-half of the Premier League. In addition, Allardyce also has achieved two promotions from the Championship to the top flight (i.e. Bolton in 2001 & West Ham in 2012).

Stylistically he might not be what supporters are looking for, and certainly the Witton Road TESCO would need to stock up on chewing gum, but Villa probably could do worse.

However, given today’s news that the owners seemingly want a splash appointment, it seems unlikely that he fits the bill.

  • Rafa Benitez (Newcastle)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

It has been reported by multiple sources that Aston Villa are eyeing a move for the Spaniard who is currently in charge at St. James’ Park.

His accomplishments as a manager in multiple top European leagues are quite impressive – see Wikipedia. Whilst Benitez is not seemingly getting a lot of action in terms of betting, his appointment would certainly be one that would make people take notice.

He won the Championship with Newcastle a few seasons ago. Since the club’s promotion, Benitez has continued to clash with their controversial owner Mike Ashley over a lack of investment.

If this rumour proves to be true, his appointment would suggest that NSWE intend to spend in order to get Villa back to being a consistent fixture in the Premier League.

  • Carlos Carvalhal (unattached)

The 52-year-old Carvalhal has been in management since 1998. He most recently managed Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City.

He guided Wednesday to the play-offs in both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons. In the latter campaign, the Portuguese led the Owls to the Championship play-off final. Unfortunately for him, his side lost to Steve Bruce and Hull City!

After being in the lower half of the division last season, Sheffield Wednesday decided to part ways with Carvalhal. Just a few days after that, he was hired by Premier League Swansea City for the remainder of their season.

His appointment in south Wales was not met with a lot of fanfare. To be fair to Carvalhal, he got the Swans on a decent run of form. However, a slump in their final run of games ultimately saw the club relegated.

With all of that said, even though some of the bookies have his odds of taking the job at Villa fairly high, one would have to think his appointment would not be popular amongst supporters.

  • Paulo Fonseca (Shaktar Donetsk)

Jorge Mendes, Jorge Mendes…Gregg Evans of the Birmingham Mail was one of this first to get this scoop.

The Portuguese has a pretty solid CV. Since 2011, he has managed C.D. Aves, Paços de Ferreira, FC Porto, Braga, and most recently, Shaktar Donetsk. In that time he has amassed a record of 182W – 75D – 59L. That gives him a 58% win percentage. Fonseca’s sides have also earned an average of 1.8 points per match.

He has won multiple titles and cups with Shaktar in the Ukraine – though to be fair, the club is a perennial favourite. In addition, if analyses are accurate, his tactics and style of play would certainly bring an appealing brand of football to the B6.

However, even though the his odds have dropped significantly, there have been multiple outlets indicating that Fonseca has higher ambitions in England.

  • Thierry Henry (unattached)

It should come as no surprise to see the French legend once again liked to managerial post at Villa. In July, some reported that Henry had agreed to take the job and bookies even suspended betting.

Could that agreement still be in place? It seems probable given that Wes Edens previously hired the Jason Kidd to coach his Milwaukee Bucks franchise. Mind you that did not end well as Edens ultimately had the final say in firing him.

Henry has coaching experience as Roberto Martinez’s assistance for the Belgian national team that finished third in the 2018 World Cup. He has expressed his affinity for Pep Guardiola’s managerial methods and tactics. Given his experience, one could reasonably expect Henry to implement an appealing possession based style of play.

His appointment would certainly be a gamble, but you have got to think it is possible that Thierry Henry could have an impact on the squad.

  • Brendan Rodgers (Celtic)

After being knocked out of the Champions League, the former Liverpool boss is apparently under less pressure after Celtic beat St. Johnstone in the Scottish League Cup and defeated Aberdeen last week. However, the recently dominant club in the SPL currently sits 5th, six points behind leaders Hearts.

With Rodgers having won two consecutive league titles and four domestic cups since he took the helm in 2016, this season’s form has not matched the heightened expectations.

He previously won promotion to the Premier League with Swansea via the playoffs in the 2012. In addition, Rodgers also very nearly won the Premier League with Liverpool. He too emphasizes passing as well as possession based football. His tactics have certainly produced spells of brilliant football.

Villa’s new CEO, Christian Purslow, has also previously interviewed the Northern Irishman and subsequently praised his managerial approach. The question is, would he leave Celtic for Aston Villa?

  • Dean Smith (Brentford)

The West Bromwich native is currently many bookies favourite to be the next man in charge at Villa Park.

Given the moniker of the ‘Ginger Mourinho’ during his five and a half year spell at Walsall, Smith currently has Brentford sitting sixth in the Championship.

As Alex Carson wrote in a similar piece last season, Smith has operated within a system at Brentford that is heavily dependent on analytics. He has received praise for his ability to get the most out of the Bees’ young players and achieve results with Brentford’s limited finances in the transfer market. During his tenure, the London club has averaged just under 1.5 points per match.

In July of this year, our George Hartley outlined that many supporters wanted him to be the Steve Bruce’s replacement. With his attacking style of play and the fact that he grew up sweeping the Holte End after matches, it seems a real possibility that Dean Smith could well be Aston Villa’s next manager.

Could this man be making a return home?
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images
  • John Terry (unattached)

It is more likely that most ‘Villans’ would want to see Terry in a claret and blue uniform for the rest of the season. With the club wanting to make an appointment by the Swansea match on October 20th and Simon Johnson’s earlier reporting, this move now seems a little less likely.

Names to consider…

  • Quique Sánchez Flores (unattached)

This is a name that has popped up on social media and looks to be gaining more traction.

Having begun his managerial career with Getafe in 2004, the Spaniard has a diverse CV. Since that time, Sánchez Flores has won multiple trophies in Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. Without question, his biggest accomplishment was winning the UEFA Europa League and Super Cup with Atlético Madrid in 2010.

Domestically, he had a fairly successful stint with Watford in the 2015-2016 season. He led the club to a mid-table finish in the Premier League and a FA Cup semi-final.

  • David Moyes (unattached)

Almost inevitably, the Scot is a name that is amongst the bookies candidates for the Aston Villa job. Given that the board wants to make a hire that garners attention, Moyes is likely a long shot.

However, one cannot ignore what he did in his time with Everton and the fact that he was Sir Alex’s heir at Manchester United. Though with his recent track record with Real Sociedad and Sunderland, it would be highly unlikely that the Villa Park faithful would greet him with a lot of excitement.

There are certainly some other names out there that could possibly come into contention. Some supporters have floated Óscar García and Rui Faria, but their names are not gaining a lot of attention elsewhere. Mick McCarthy also said he would be interested...

With what has come out in just one day, for me Aston Villa are probably focusing on the likes of Benitez, Henry, Rodgers, and Smith. It would come as no surprise to see more names linked and perhaps, a shock appointment.

Given what we know, feel free to have your say:


Who do you want as the next Aston Villa manager?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Sam Allardyce
    (10 votes)
  • 16%
    Rafa Benitez
    (65 votes)
  • 0%
    Carlos Carvalhal
    (2 votes)
  • 12%
    Paulo Fonseca
    (48 votes)
  • 11%
    Thierry Henry
    (44 votes)
  • 21%
    Brendan Rodgers
    (87 votes)
  • 24%
    Dean Smith
    (98 votes)
  • 3%
    John Terry
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Quique Sánchez Flores
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    David Moyes
    (9 votes)
  • 3%
    (13 votes)
396 votes total Vote Now