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Opinion: 5 Managers Aston Villa Should Target

With Aston Villa’s dreadful start to the season having left a former UEFA Champions League winner out of  job, and Villains owner Dr. Tony Xia looking to make the second managerial appointment of his short reign at Villa Park, we take a look at 5 bosses that the Midlands side could and should look to approach, as they look to reverse their recent decline.

Steve Bruce

The current bookies’ favourite, and with good reason. The former Manchester United defender is a seasoned second-tier campaigner, having won four promotions to the Premier League in spells with the Villains’ fierce second city rivals Birmingham City and his most recent club Hull City, who he also guided to an FA Cup final just over two years ago. Having left the Tigers following their playoff success this summer, frustrated by a lack of transfer activity ahead of their top-tier return, Bruce would bring experience, tactical nous and a calm head to the madness of Villa Park, where owner Tony Xia will likely to continue to fund big-money signings in an attempt to rebuild the squad. The drawback to the potential appointment of Bruce? His time at St. Andrews. Villa’s last appointment of a former Blues manager, Alex McCleish in the summer of 2011, did not end at all well for anybody concerned, though one would be inclined to think that in the dire situation that they currently find themselves in, the Villa Park faithful would surely welcome the appointment of one of the EFL’s most proven bosses in Bruce, despite his former allegiances.

David Wagner

Currently working miracles at table-topping Huddersfield Town, Jurgen Klopp’s disciple has been suggested by many as a frontrunner for the post, should Xia be able to persuade the German-born former United States international to call time on a short but massively successful time with the Terriers. Though a role at one of English football’s great institutions, with the funding needed to rebuild a fallen giant readily available may prove to be very tempting indeed, Wagner, like his mentor at Liverpool, appears to be in love with his current role, having imposed his ‘gegenpressing’ style upon the Town players to great effect. Should he even want the job, it is also questionable whether the Terriers chief would be able to replicate his under-the-radar success at Town in front of 40,000 short-changed Villa fans, with his time at Town being his only experience in senior management to date.

Steve Clarke

Having been made caretaker manager following Di Matteo’s departure, it is believed that the Italian’s assistant, a former boss of both Reading and West Bromwich Albion, will be given a chance to stake his claim for the job on a permanent basis. Having served as assistant manager to Jose Mourinho in the Portuguese manager’s first spell in England, Clarke has had the opportunity to learn from the best, and was somewhat harshly dismissed from his role at Albion, having led the club to their best Premier League season when finishing eighth in 2013. The Scot also led Reading to a first FA Cup semi final in 88 years during his twelve months at the Madjeski Stadium, and is believed to be extremely popular with both the Villa hierarchy and the Midland clubs’ playing squad. Should Clarke be given the opportunity to turn around Villa’s fortunes after the International break, he could prove to be a strong contender to be handed the role on a permanent basis.

Dean Smith

A boyhood Villa fan, Smith’s stock has steadily risen over the past five years. Having taken over Walsall in January 2011, he transformed the Saddlers from relegation certainties to unlikely promotion contenders, having left the club in fourth place in League One when he departed for Griffin Park last year. Whilst Walsall have struggled somewhat since the departure of the man affectionately nicknamed the ‘ginger Mourinho’ by fans, Brentford have prospered, finishing last season in ninth place and sitting on the brink of the Championship playoffs, eight points above Aston Villa. While the appointment of a seasoned campaigner like Steve Bruce may be seen as a quick fix for Villa, securing the services of Smith, one of the EFL’s most promising young bosses, would signal Xia’s intention to follow a long-term strategy and develop a clear footballing identity under an exciting young manager, and someone who has never been able to utilise the kind of huge funding that would be available to him at Villa Park, should he be tempted to return to the Midlands.

Tim Sherwood

Though fans across the country may mock his refusal to don anything other than a gilet whilst on the touchline, as well as his constant bragging about his win percentage when in charge of Tottenham Hotspur, Sherwood could be a serious contender to make an unlikely return to Villa Park. Having been relieved of his duties just under a year ago after a terrible start to Villa’s disastrous Premier League campaign, after leading the club to the FA Cup final just 5 months previously, Sherwood’s passion, drive and no-nonsense approach could be the required remedy for a club that, despite a huge financial outlay, is massively underperforming yet again. The former Blackburn Rovers midfielder has already signalled his interest in the post, feeling that he has unfinished business at the club, and is remembered fondly by many in Claret and Blue for his honest, direct approach, having escaped much of the blame for Villa’s disastrous fall from grace. Though he is yet to hold any managerial post for a full season, Sherwood would certainly bring enthusiasm and hard graft to a club that is definitely in desperate need of fresh impetus.

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