Premier League - Who will take over at Villa?

Eurosport - Tue, 10 Aug 11:29:00 2010

A rundown of the top contenders to take the vacant manager's job at Aston Villa following the departure of Martin O'Neill.

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Bob Bradley

Current job: Coach of USA national team

Latest odds: 3/1

Pros: It all seems to make sense - an American owner wanting to bring in an American coach. And Bradley has impressed during his four years at the helm of the US side, with the undoubted highlight coming in January 2009 when his men beat Spain 2-0 at the Confederations Cup, ending the current world champions' 35-match unbeaten.

Cons: After four years breathing the rarefied air of international management, Bradley hasn't had his hands dirty on a week-in-week-out basis for a very long time. And with only MLS experience behind him, would he really be ready to step into a top job at one of the most hectic leagues in the world? Chuck in his reputation for conservative tactics and failing to inject creativity and it starts to look like the bookies might be some way off on this one.

Sven Goran Eriksson

Current job: Sipping cocktails on a sun lounger in the Maldives. Probably.

Latest odds: 11/2

Pros: A legend in the world of football management, with a string of trophies to his name - including an Italian league and cup double with Lazio. And after disastrous spells with Notts County and Mexico, Sven's reputation has been somewhat restored after his stint with the Ivory Coast at the World Cup. Players reported that he "worked miracles" with the side, despite limited time to work and there is no shame in failing to progress from a group that included Brazil and Portugal.

Cons: It's now a decade since the Swede led a side to meaningful silverware - that double with Lazio came in 2000 - and since masterminding England's famous 5-1 win in Germany he has failed to shine. Early promise at Manchester City faded quickly, and he came close to being lynched by enraged Mexican fans during a disastrous time. Yet the mud never quite sticks to the white-haired Swede, and if Villa are looking for someone to replicate Martin O'Neill's record - solid, top-half league finishes and the occasional cup run - then Eriksson could be a good fit.

Alan Curbishley

Current job: Spending compensation money in Essex

Latest odds: 7/1

Pros: Worked wonders on limited budgets in a decade and a half in charge at Charlton, and if Randy Lerner is looking for a man who can accept working without a massive transfer kitty then Curbs will be high on the list. His subsequent stint at West Ham was a huge success: he first kept the side in the top flight by leading them to seven wins out of nine matches at the end of the 2007/08 season, then secured a top-half finish the season after.

Cons: There's one major warning sign over Curbishley's head for the Villa directors: he walked away from West Ham after having his best players sold from under him, and won a constructive dismissal case against the club, lining his pockets to the tune of 2.2 million. After the O'Neill debacle, Villa would be nuts to invite history to repeat itself in the same way.

Slaven Bilic

Current job: Coach of Croatia national team

Latest odds: 10/1

Pros: The Croat has been in charge of the national team for the past four years, earning a superb reputation as he guided the side to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 - after having knocked England out during qualifying, Also has experience of English football after stints as a player with Everton and West Ham in the late 1990s.

Cons: After losing the Euro 2008 quarter-final on penalties, things have been tougher for the 41-year-old. His side failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and his lack of club management experience - which has been limited to a brief stint in charge of Hadjuk Split - would be a concern.

Martin Jol

Current job: Manager of Ajax

Latest odds: 9/1

Pros: Has proven himself more than capable of managing a similar mid-to-high Premier League side in an excellent stint with Spurs, which saw him bring the team their best results for years before he was fired in a knee-jerk reaction. Has had a good run - and a Dutch cup victory - with Ajax since joining them last July.

Cons: After Fulham unsuccessfully tried to prise him away from the Dutch side, it seems unlikely that Villa will have better luck. There's another factor, though: Jol's unhappiness in Amsterdam was based on the club trying to sell players from under him, so it doesn't seem likely he'd want to get into a similar situation in the suburbs of Birmingham.

Jurgen Klinsmann

Current job: TV pundit and baker

Latest odds: 6/1

Pros: Still a legend in the English game following spells with Tottenham in the 1990s, the 46-year-old's finest moment as a manager came as he guided an unfancied Germany side to third place in the 2006 World Cup. Went on to manage Bayern Munich in 2008/09, where he was fired shortly before the end of the season despite being on a run of five wins in seven matches.

Cons: That experience with Bayern is his only management job to date at club level, and with plenty of media work coming his way - as well as the family bakery to keep him busy - Klinsmann's future path does not look likely to involve a move to the Midlands.

The Outsiders

Gareth Southgate (10/1) is a definite possibility, but probably not a big enough name for a status-conscious chairman; Gianfranco Zola (18/1) is well-respected and a big enough name, but unlikely to leave his glamorous London lifestyle; Glen Hoddle (25/1) hasn't been a manager for four years, and is unlikely to be given a chance to jump straight back in with Villa; Billy Davies (20/1) seems more likely to want to lead Nottingham Forest to the Premier League; and though Mark Hughes (anything up to 50/1) has been linked with the job in the Daily Telegraph, it's all-but-impossible to see him walking away from Fulham after a matter of days in the job.

Who do you think should get the job? Have your say in the comments box down below.


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