Aston Villa have had a disappointing season to say the least and Alex McLeish has took the blame for it.
McLeish and Villa were never going to work out anyway in my opinion, the fans didn’t want him and he plays negative football which is why the club failed to win more games than they did and were sucked into a relegation battle. This time Randy Lerner has to make a good choice or Villa’s place in the Premier League is seriously under threat, since Martin O’Neill left the club it has been in decline. In McLeish’s defence he had to deal with a lot of injuries to key players, in particular Darren Bent but still more was expected of the side and at least a challenge for the top 10 would have been nice for the fans.
So who is going to be the next manager? The current favourite is Paul Lambert of Norwich City as he has had a fantastic season with them and has proved that you don’t need big names to be successful in the Premier League. He has got a lot of players that are quite young and have the potential to grow which is exactly what Villa need right now, with a lot of impressive youngsters coming through like Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan. Lambert has a very impressive record winning 42.46% of his 325 games as a manager and will add vibrancy and reinvigorate the club which is exactly what chief executive Paul Faulkner has said they are looking for. Norwich won’t let him go easily and maybe he will see it as a step sideways and decide against the move.
Mick McCarthy, the former Wolves manager is also linked with the job and this surprised me slightly as he was sacked as manager of Wolves and has never done anything better in the Premier League than battle relegation. I would expect more ambition from a club like Villa but maybe they are thinking that McCarthy did a good job on the whole with Wolves and with better players at his disposal he will be able to lead the team into the top half. He is unemployed and knows that the Premier League so he could be a good choice however I can see the fans reacting just as negatively to this as they did with McLeish.
Finally, yet again Roberto Martinez is linked with the role and he wanted to stay at Wigan Athletic last summer but maybe things have changed and he will be more interested now. If they can drag him away from Wigan then they will have a fantastic manager who likes his teams to play a passing game and is also someone that doesn’t mind trying new things out. His formation of 3-4-3 has worked magnificently towards the end of the season and even the best teams in the league have been unable to deal with it. But Martinez will be thinking if I have one bad season they might sack me. So I think he will stay at Wigan but if Villa give him the chance, they need to make sure they stick by him.
If I was the chairman, I would do everything I could to get Martinez in charge of my team as he has kept Wigan up for a number of years now and he has stuck to his own game plan for the most of it. The players will enjoy the freedom and creativity he will give them and they will prosper under him and maybe challenge for Europe once again.