Pot luck in picking a manager

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Henry linked with replacing Bruce

Aston Villa is seemingly making pacey progress in appointing a successor to Steve Bruce who was sacked as manager last week.

Thierry Henry was looking nailed on with the bookies to be named sooner rather than later, possibly even by the time you read this. Every supporter has their own view on who we should be going for and who we should be avoiding. After trying to analyse each candidate over and over to the minute detail, isn’t it actually pretty much pot luck as to whether a manager will have success or experience failure?

Personally, I’m extremely excited by the prospect of Henry joining us. As I was back in July when the new owners decided to stick with Bruce instead. And if rumours that John Terry will be accompanying him as an assistant manager are accurate, then I’m even more excited by that.

Lack of experience

The sensible voices inside my head, not to mention those on social media, are concerned that there is no previous managerial experience whatsoever in the potential duo. But perhaps blindly, I’m happy to overlook that.

I think there is enough evidence in other appointments elsewhere to show that experience of any kind shouldn’t be held up as a barrier anymore. Frank Lampard is the obvious high-profile contender here who is doing fairly well with Derby County so far. And Darren Moore is doing even better. And David Wagner took Huddersfield up with minimal managerial experience also.

Perhaps more so is the myth that Championship experience, in particular, is a must. It isn’t. There is an endless list of managers that come into this league and perform well. All of the aforementioned managers have proved that. Add in Nuno Santos, Marcelo Bielsa, Chris Wilder and so on.

The point is, if the individual is good enough, then a lack of experience won’t be a barrier. Of course, we won’t know until we take that chance. Is it a gamble? Absolutely.

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Pro’s and con’s

But then, every managerial appointment is a gamble. You can try to safeguard against disasters by choosing a manager with a wealth of experience. But it doesn’t always work. Bruce himself was massively seasoned at this level. With multiple promotions to boot. And if the experience is what we’re going for, then the likes of Mick McCarthy should be near the top of the list by that logic.

Dean Smith is a big favourite of many supporters due to the man being a lifelong Villan himself. That in itself is a good enough reason for many to give him the job. Brendan Rodgers is another who many would like. And you can make a good case for him after his couple of years taking up Swansea via the playoffs and helping them become an established Premier League side until recently.

Conversely, you can also pick holes in both of these candidates too. Smith has never been in an environment like he would experience at Villa. And Rodgers has had things all his own way in Scotland with Celtic not having Rangers to contend with and having Luis Suarez in his absolute pomp which masked over a couple of other disappointing seasons at Liverpool.

The point is that there will be no perfect candidate. Everyone in the running for the job has pros and cons. And who is to say which of those cons are more weighty than the others.

Past routes

Former manager: Martin O'NeillTo be fair, Villa has tried going down every possible route since Martin O’Neill left. We’ve had a mightily experienced foreign manager in Gerard Houllier and we’ve taken a chance on a promising foreign counterpart in Remi Garde. Paul Lambert represented the next up and coming manager who has done well at every other club before us. We’ve had a young manager with little experience in Tim Sherwood, and we’ve had a promotion specialist in Steve Bruce. Roberto Di Matteo was even a manager who won the Champions League. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to fit Alex McLeish into any particular positive bracket and was the only nailed on a disaster waiting to happen.

Success has eluded them all. With all the best reasoning in the world, there is just no way of knowing. Experience, previous success at gaining promotion, a promise to play attacking football. We’ve already tried and tested all of the magic ingredients and none of them has worked.

The club is a mess from the top downwards hasn’t helped and for me is the biggest factor of all. And incidentally, I think that Garde can feel particularly hard done by on that front. But if a club is well run, then that is the real formula for success. A manager will simply be a vital cog that helps keep things ticking over nicely.

Better owners

At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess whether we are being any better run behind the scenes that we were under Randy Lerner or Tony Xia. There is clearly an ambition from our new owners, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris. But we’ll have to see how things unfold over the coming months to make any sort of informed judgement on that topic.

Nick Sander’s excellent piece from Sunday saves me listing all of the positives for bringing in Henry and Terry. All I will say is that that particular appointment it will immediately create a feel-good factor around the place more than any other currently being touted; I can’t imagine there will be many supporters underwhelmed by it. And with the way things are going and the current mood, that instant pick me up in itself could be invaluable.

Will it work? Who knows. As I say, it’s a gamble. But so is any choice that we bring in. Sometimes you just can’t tell who will be a good fit for a club and it just all slots into place. We’re well overdue that sort of connection with a manager. Personally, I find it really exciting prospect and I can see a lot of positives including the potential of expansive attacking football which is what we all want to see. Right now, that hope is good enough for me.

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