In modern day football, something which is becoming almost as unpredictable as the transfer window, is the hiring and firing of managers. As of the time I write this blog there are three Premiership clubs looking for a new gaffer for the 2011-2012 season. Chelsea, of course, under the guidance of Roman Abramovich got rid of Carlo Ancelotti for having the audacity to finish second in (arguably) the toughest football league in the world. However, it is the managerial rollercoaster tale of Fulham and Aston Villa which is currently the most fascinating.
With Gerard Houllier having to step down from the Villa helm due to his poor health and the announcement on June 2nd that Mark Hughes was stepping away from his post at Fulham, both clubs find themselves in a rather familiar position. Indeed, this will now be the second summer in a row that Villa and Fulham have had to hunt for new managers following the departures of Martin O’Neill and Roy Hodgson last year. But who are the prime candidates to get the newly vacant positions and why?
Despite his claims that his decision to leave Fulham “has not been influenced by any outside party”, it seems fairly likely that “Sparkie” will soon be on his way to manage another team soon (or at least after June 30th once his notice expires). After all, he seemed content in the job with The Cottagers so why would he leave unless he felt a better offer was coming his way? On leaving Fulham, Hughes said “I hope the supporters and all those connected with the club will understand I wish to move on to further my experiences.” This statement seems to confirm that Hughes is on his way to another club, and since he was being closely linked with the Aston Villa position already, the timing all looks rather convenient.
Unless there is another club abroad who is interested in Hughes (there is the Chelsea position in England too, of course, but Guus Hiddink looks to have that one nailed) then expect to see him confirmed as the new Villa manager within the next few weeks.
EDIT: However, there is word coming out of the Aston Villa camp that Hughes will not be getting the vacant manager’s job, which adds yet another interesting layer to this story. Whether that is a smokescreen by Randy Lerner and co remains to be seen at press time.
However, there are other candidates available for the Villa job, with several of these former Premiership managers having been linked with the Fulham position too. One of these men is former England boss, Steve McClaren. After that disastrous spell in charge of the England international team, McClaren has been trying to rebuild his managerial reputation overseas. Unfortunately, despite having success at FC Twente in 2010 (guiding them to their first ever league title), he was sacked from his post at Wolfsburg in February this year. McClaren is keen on a return to Premiership football and is currently one of the favourites to take on the gaffer’s role at either club.