Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Top Aston Villa manager pick emerges as international boss pushes his case

James Marshment
Roberto Martinez, Thierry Henry take Belgium training

Aston Villa are reportedly growing in confidence they can lure their No 1 pick as their successor to Dean Smith – despite an well-respected international boss pushes his own case.

The Villans are looking for a new manager, having called time on Smith’s reign over the weekend. Five successive defeats saw him pay the price for a dour start to the season that has left the club down in 16th place with just 10 points. Smith though leaves with his head held high having made this classy statement to the club.

For Villa’s ambitious owners Wes Edens and Naseef Sawiris, the search for his replacement is now well underway.

Indeed, Edens and Sawiris were said to be disappointed with last season’s bottom-half finish and so Smith’s sacking did not come out of blue.

And it seems they have already identified the man they want to step into his shoes. The likes of Paulo Fonseca, Steven Gerrard and Ralph Hasenhuttl emerged as early contenders.

Then the likes of Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand was linked – a prospective move that now appears unlikely.

And while Hjulmand may not be keen, another Euro 2020 coach in Roberto Martinez apparently is.

As per The Sun, he has very firmly let it be known that he is keen on the vacancy. Having coached Belgium since 2016, there is a feeling that he has taken the Red Devils as far as he can.

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Furthermore, he is reportedly set to hold talks with Villa chiefs when he arrives in the UK with Belgium next week. The 48-year-old takes his Belgium side to Wales for a World Cup qualifier and is perfectly placed to discuss the vacancy after the game.

The paper reports he first wants to seal Belgium’s place at Qatar 2022 first before holding talks. But he is reportedly ‘extremely keen’ to land a job he initially turned down back in 2011.

Martinez is said to be desperate to return to club football, having recently been linked with jobs at Newcastle and Barcelona.

Villa chiefs set on Steven Gerrard

However, he reportedly has a job on his hands in convincing Edens and Sawiris he’s the right man for Villa.

Indeed, The Sun reports that Villa are convinced that Gerrard is the right man for the job. Furthermore, the paper writes that there is a ‘growing belief’ they can lure the Liverpool legend away from Rangers.

Having won the title at Ibrox last season, Gerrard is a man in demand.

And while he is seen by many as Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Liverpool, Jamie Carragher insists the Villa job is the perfect stepping stone.

“I think Aston Villa as a club would be a great move for Steven Gerrard. But the situation that he finds himself in right now is that he took the title off Celtic last season. And now he is in a great position to win it again,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

“I think in a perfect world you would want to stay at Rangers until the end of the season. And to do so coming away from there with two titles.

“People talk about Liverpool. That might be two or three years with Jurgen Klopp,” Carragher added. “You won’t get many better offers than Villa. But in a perfect world I think he wants to come away from Rangers with another two or three trophies.”

Aston Villa manager race: Dean Smith sacked, Gerrard, Terry and Fonseca linked