It was the end of the 1986/87 season that a side that had won the European Cup only five years earlier, and the biggest team from England’s ‘second city’, Aston Villa, were relegated from England’s top flight.
Fast forward 30 years and the scenario is exactly the same for a club that has been an ever-present in the Premier League. In 1987 then chairman, Doug Ellis, turned to a bright young English coach in Graham Taylor, who had enhanced his reputation at Watford, to save the day. Taylor led Villa back to the promised land at the first attempt, something that the current newly formed Villans board will be hoping to emulate.
The new look big shots, headed by former FA and Manchester City chairman, David Bernstein, are tasked with the biggest managerial decision at Villa Park since Ellis poached Taylor. The early indications appear to suggest that it’s a two-horse race between Nigel Pearson and David Moyes. Both fit the profile having managed in the Championship before, while it could be argued that Pearson is more qualified having won the division with Leicester. However, Pearson is a temperamental character who has had various run-ins with the media, board members and players during his two stints at Leicester.
Since 2011, no top flight football club has hired and fired more managers than Aston Villa. What this fallen giant needs now is a period of stability under the guidance of a manager with a proven track record of building a successful team.
David Moyes inherited a similar situation while taking over the reins at Everton in 2002. Over the next 11 years the Scot transformed the Merseysiders from relegation fodder to Champions League contenders – that’s some going!. Moyes understands the pressure of managing a big club with high expectations and is well-versed at handling the media.
Like Villa, Moyes needs a rebuild. His last few years have seen him go from being regarded as Britain’s brightest managers to a laughing stock, with being gifted the poisoned chalice at Manchester United a big factor.
Rumours once suggested that Randy Lerner made Moyes his first choice to replace Martin O’Neill when he walked out at the beginning of the 2011/12 season. How different things may have turned out for both parties had this happened.
It didn’t then, but it needs to now.
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