Caretaker boss Steve Clarke in the frame for Aston Villa job

3 Oct

Aston Villa caretaker manager Steve Clarke will be given a chance to stake his claim for the job with Steve Bruce and Dean Smith also in the frame.

Aston Villa: Caretaker boss Steve Clarke in the frame for Aston Villa jobAston Villa: Caretaker boss Steve Clarke in the frame for Aston Villa job

The Sky Bet Championship strugglers are searching for a new boss following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo after just 12 games with Villa two points above the relegation zone.

Press Association Sport understands chief executive Keith Wyness and technical director Steve Round met on Monday after Di Matteo’s exit to begin their search for a replacement.

A shortlist will be drawn up over the next couple of days, with Clarke expected to be on it, and no approaches have been made to any clubs or individuals yet.

Villa do not play again until October 15 when Midlands rivals Wolves visit Villa Park leaving Clarke almost two weeks to make his mark along with first-team coach Kevin Bond.

Ex-West Brom boss Clarke is popular with the players and has impressed the Villa hierarchy since he joined as Di Matteo’s assistant in June, although he has not managed since leaving Reading in 2015.

Brentford boss Smith has been identified by Villa as a contender while Bruce, out of work after leaving Hull in the summer, is another under consideration.

Smith, a boyhood Villa fan, has guided Brentford to seventh in the Sky Bet Championship after moving to Griffin Park from Walsall last November.

The 45-year-old’s stock has slowly risen after he turned Walsall from relegation certainties in 2011 to Sky Bet League One promotion contenders last season before he joined the Bees.

Bruce still lives in the Midlands following a six-year spell with Villa’s city rivals Birmingham, which ended in 2007, and he took Blues to the Premier League twice as well as winning a double promotion with Hull, the latest coming in last season’s 1-0 play-off final win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Huddersfield boss David Wagner is also being looked at with Villa understood to be keeping an open mind over their next appointment as they understand the importance of the decision.

Villa will consider managers both in and out of work, will take into account any fallout from the Daily Telegraph’s investigation into corruption in football and there is no set timescale.

Owner Tony Xia is currently out of the country but due to return over the next couple of weeks yet his movements will depend on the speed of Villa’s appointment, which could see candidates flown to visit him in China.

He appointed Di Matteo in June after his takeover and gave the Italian the green light to bring in nine players in a B£50million overhaul.

Villa spent B£34million net in the summer, including B£12million on Ross McCormack and B£15million on fellow striker Jonathan Kodjia, but Di Matteo won just one game and also suffered a shock 3-1 defeat to Luton in the EFL Cup.

The Italian was informed of his dismissal on Saturday evening after a 2-0 defeat at Preston before it was officially confirmed by the club on Monday.

Including caretaker managers Kevin MacDonald and Eric Black, Villa have now had more bosses – six – than wins – four – since the start of last season.

Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust director Howard Hodgson insists the club cannot afford to make another mistake.

He told Press Association Sport: “It’s absolutely vital. The last six (permanent) managers since Martin O’Neill have all flopped, some worse than others, but there’s no doubt – not one has been a success.

“We have to pick a manager who can prepare the team to win football matches. Ultimately wins are the lifeblood of any football club and Villa have been starved of them for far too long. We have got to get this one right.”


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