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Five managers Aston Villa must consider after sacking Dean Smith


Dean Smith became the fifth Premier League manager to lose his job in the space of five weeks after Aston Villa parted ways with their promotion-winning boss on Sunday, a departure which came less than 24 hours after Norwich City cut ties with Daniel Farke.

While Smith will be gutted he didn’t get more time to turn things around following a difficult start to the season, the powers that be decided that the international break was the ideal time to make a change as the club bids to spark their campaign into life following five straight defeats.

16th-placed Villa may have struggled to click following the exit of Jack Grealish and the arrival of the likes of Danny Ings, Emiliano Buendía and Leon Bailey, however the job is sure to attract widespread interest given the club’s ambition, money, and the talented players within their ranks.

Here are five managers Aston Villa should consider in their recruitment process…

Steven Gerrard

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard tops the betting at a best-priced 3/1 (BetVictor), while he’s odds-on elsewhere.

Gerrard is the sort of high-profile appointment that the owners will undoubtedly be keen to approach.

Following a two-year bedding in process in management, Gerrard then romped to the Scottish title last term, with his Gers side winning 32 and losing none of their 38 matches. 92 goals were hammered home and only 13 conceded. They currently hold a four point lead at the summit after 13 matches.

Gerrard’s next job is sure to come in the Premier League and Villa could prove to be the ideal next destination for the 41-year-old, although with plenty of silverware on offer in Scotland it may be a tough task to lure him down south of the border at this point in the season.

Kasper Hjulmand

Last month we praised the managerial credentials of Denmark Kasper Hjulmand, putting forward the case of why he could be a real coup for the Premier League.

In the last five months Hjulmand has featured in a Euro 2020 semi-final - that he was perhaps unfortunate to lose - and spearheaded the Danes through to the World Cup. His team are great to watch, have a fantastic team spirit, and have transformed from courageous underdogs into a serious unit.

It may be difficult to prize the 49-year-old away from his current job given that he’ll no doubt be eyeing up next summer’s World Cup, however the lure of the Premier League is always strong for managers, perhaps now more than ever give the star-studded names employed in England’s top-flight.

Lucien Favre

We are desperate to see Lucien Favre in the Premier League. He came extremely close in the summer, only to get cold feet with Crystal Palace post, while he’s since been linked with Newcastle, who are all set to appoint Eddie Howe.

The Swiss manager can now be backed at a temping price of 25/1 (Bet Victor) to succeed Smith at Villa Park.

Favre’s record of transforming middle-of-the-range teams into top-four challengers means he’s a great fit for a club that are determined to take it up a notch by getting into the mix for the European places.

There are plenty of examples of Favre's magic managerial touch. Let's start with Hertha Berlin, whom he took from 10th to 4th in the Bundesliga. He then saved Borussia Monchengladbach from the drop and propelled them to 4th the following season. Over in France in led Nice to their highest Ligue 1 standing (3rd) since the 1970s.

Favre also ended FC Zurich’s 25-year wait for a Swiss title, then retained it the next season, while he came agonisingly close to bagging the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, whom he left last December.

Ralph Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl

Aston Villa have already poached Southampton’s best player, could they now revert their focus back to St Mary’s for their manager?

Ignore the critics who bark on about the 9-0s. Yes, there have been some severe lows and 2021 has been a difficult year, but Ralph Hasenhuttl is an excellent manager who deserves plenty of credit for the work he’s done at Southampton over the last three years.

While the Austrian was severely hindered by the departure of his key marksman Danny Ings to Villa, he’s been extremely shrewd in the transfer market. Youngster Tino Livramento has been one of the signings of the summer at a scarcely believable £5m - just ask any decent Fantasy Football player - striker Armando Broja has started to sparkle, whereas defender Mohammed Salisu - bought in 2020 - has been superb this term.

Hasenhuttl, who has managed in the Champions League with RB Leipzig, has overseen draws against the Manchester sides and picked up 10 points from his last four games - including a win that ended Smith's tenure - at a much more defensively solid and disciplined Saints, who are now knocking on the door of the top-10.

It’s intriguing to think what he could accomplish with a bigger budget and higher quality players, making him an attractive option in the market at 16/1 (Paddy Power.)

Roberto Mancini

We’ll end on a long shot: If Aston Villa want to be ultra-ambitious then they should chuck everything at former Premier League title winner Roberto Mancini.

The Italian has been an absolute revelation in charge of the Azzurri, who he led to Euro 2020 glory over England at Wembley back in the summer. Like the aforementioned Kasper Hjulmand at Denmark, Mancini will also be targeting the World Cup next Christmas - a competition Italy surely have a decent chance of winning.

Mancini to Villa is out at 33/1 for a reason, but Everton managed to secure the services of Carlo Ancelotti, so why not? There's no harm in trying...

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