With Eric Black undertaking the unenviable duty of overseeing the final Premier League fixtures of Aston Villa’s woeful relegation campaign, the Birmingham-based club are yet to appoint a successor to Remi Garde – leading to much speculation over who could be in the dugout for their first season in the Championship.
Paul Lambert, Nigel Pearson and David Moyes have all been mentioned as potential candidates in recent weeks but curiously enough, Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as the odds-on favourite today following a flurry of bets backing the Italian.
The Villains are unlikely to announce their next manager for some time with the Birmingham outfit amid a potential takeover following unprecedented angst towards cash-shy owner Randy Lerner. But we at Football FanCast believe the former West Brom and Chelsea boss could prove an inspired appointment in Villa’s bid to return to the Premier League as soon as possible – here’s FOUR reasons why!
If Aston Villa are to return to the top flight at the first time of asking, they need a manager who has gained promotion from the Championship before. Roberto Di Matteo certainly ticks that box, comfortably guiding West Brom to a runner-up finish back in the 2009/10 campaign – when they finished twelve points above the play-offs.
But looking into the long-term, the Italian offers Premier League experience too. He registered over 100 top tier outings for Chelsea as a player, in addition managing the Blues and the Baggies in the Premier League albeit for significantly shorter spells.
Nice guys in football are becoming a dying breed, but Roberto Di Matteo actively defies that trend. The Italian always wears a cheeky smile and by all accounts is a genuinely nice chap who looks to inspire rather than berate performances from his players.
Of course, I’m sure most Aston Villa fans see pleasantries as secondary to results; they’d probably have Katie Hopkins in charge if it meant winning every game next season. But following the rather humourless Paul Lambert, the insufferable Tim Sherwood and typically moody Frenchman Remi Garde, having a manager who always brings a grin to the dugout will be a welcome change.
Likewise, considering the mess the club are now in, the Italian’s happy-go-lucky personality and positive demeanour could be just the ticket to lift them out of it.
As a consequence of Di Matteo’s aforementioned nice-guy-ness, in combination with his travels throughout world football, the Italian is incredibly well-connected – something that could pay off dividends as Aston Villa look to overhaul an abject squad of apathetic mercenaries this summer.
Indeed, the 45-year-old is associated with FC Zurich, Lazio and Chelsea from his playing days, whilst MK Dons, West Bromwich Albion and German outfit FC Schalke could also be very receptive to doing business with their former manager.
Connections with Chelsea and Schalke are particularly important. The Blues have won five FA Youth Cups in the last seven years but the path to their first team is notoriously defunct, so taking a few of their incredibly talented youngsters on loan next season could suit all involved.
Likewise, FC Schalke produce decent players at a very consistent rate; whether they’re loan or permanent deals, Di Matteo may be able to convince a few into joining the ranks at Villa Park.
To ignore Di Matteo’s misgivings would be enormously unjust. He struggled with West Brom in the Premier League, lasted just a matter of months into his first full season at Chelsea and made a bit of a hash of the FC Schalke job, finding himself axed after twelve months.
But much like during his playing days, the Italian has always insisted upon playing positive football throughout his management career. In fact, his philosophy was so attacking-minded at Chelsea that defensive frailties eventually proved to be his undoing.
Once again, I’m sure Villa fans would take results over performance next season if it meant getting back to the Premier League in time for 2017/18. But the style of play at Villa Park has been so negative, attritional and direct since Martin O’Neill left in 2010 that a positive, forward-thinking mantra would be a much-welcome change with the potential to gloss over underwhelming results.
Likewise, if Aston Villa are to avoid their prior mistakes upon returning to the top flight, having a coherent philosophy in place is imperative.