Aston Villa start search for Martin O’Neill replacement

Martin O'Neill
Former Villa boss O’Neill also had success at Wycombe, Leicester City and Celtic

Aston Villa are looking for a new manager after the shock departure of Martin O’Neill only five days before the new Premier League season starts.

The club have yet to comment on the situation but names linked with them include Ajax manager Martin Jol and United States coach Bob Bradley.

Villa play West Ham on Saturday, with reserve-team boss Kevin MacDonald preparing the team in a caretaker role.

Reports claim O’Neill resigned on Monday over transfer policy.

Both Villa and O’Neill – who led the club to sixth place in the top flight and the Carling Cup final last season – have refused to disclose any reasons behind the decision, which brought his four-year tenure to an abrupt end and threw preparations for the new campaign into turmoil.

In May, owner Randy Lerner insisted O’Neill had pledged his future to Villa after much speculation over whether or not the former Celtic boss would leave.

Eriksson would appeal to Randy Lerner because of his understated diplomatic style, rather than the engaging and bloody-minded Martin Jol
BBC Radio 5 live‘s Pat Murphy

But it is widely believed that O’Neill felt it was the end of the road after learning that he would not be able to reinvest most of the money generated from England midfielder James Milner’s imminent move to Manchester City.

Lerner had backed O’Neill in the transfer market since the latter replaced David O’Leary in August 2006, from which point the Northern Irishman has largely transformed the fortunes of Villa.

But it became clear this summer that similar investment would not be forthcoming, with Lerner insisting that Villa, who face Rapid Vienna in the Europa League later this month, would have to adopt a sell-to-buy policy.

BBC Radio 5 live’s Midlands football reporter Pat Murphy stated that while there are names in the frame, there is no single stand-out candidate to replace O’Neill.

Alan Curbishley is available, there’s no compensation issue and he’s desperate top get back into Premier League management,” he added.

“So is Sven-Goran Eriksson, who feels he has unfinished business after being sacked by Manchester City.

“Eriksson would appeal to Randy Lerner because of his understated diplomatic style, rather than the engaging and bloody-minded Martin Jol – who recently flirted with Fulham while playing fast and loose with his present club Ajax.

“Gareth Southgate has recent Premier League experience at Middlesbrough, where he was unluckily sacked, and his time as a manager will surely come again.

“But many Villa fans have not forgiven him for criticising the club for a lack of ambition when he left 10 years ago.”

Bradley, whose contract with the US Soccer Federation runs out in December, has became one of the bookmakers’ favourites for the vacant job after stressing that he would love to work in Europe when asked about the Villa speculation.

“I have said over and over as well that I am always excited about new and different challenges,” he commented.

“Certainly coaching in Europe at some point is something that I would love to do.”

Lerner is a fellow American, while Bradley had previously been linked with the Fulham managerial position before the appointment of former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes.


Milner’s exit would come only a year after former Villa captain Gareth Barry also moved to Eastlands.

Former Villa captain Martin Laursen said he was not surprised that O’Neill left the club but said that he did not think his departure would be followed by several players.

“He wanted more than Randy Lerner could give him,” Laursen told BBC Sport. “He is so ambitious that when he doesn’t get what he wants he walks away but I don’t think more players will leave.

“If Martin O’Neill gets another important job then he might take some with him but I don’t think players will leave because O’Neill has gone.”

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