The shocking news that Martin O’Neill has resigned as manager of Aston Villa is sparking rumour after rumour regarding his departure. Many Villa fans will see this as a dark day in the clubs history with the Ulsterman bringing Europe and Wembley back into their lives.
A true managerial great has now left the club who must now embark on the difficult task of replacing the Irish talisman. Kevin MacDonald has now taken temporary charge and will lead the side in their season opener against West Ham at Villa Park. One thing that is sure is that the reception given to the owner Randy Lerner will not be as positive as before with many feeling that it is the American’s fault for not backing O’Neill to bring in the necessary recruitments over the summer.
The timing of the revelation coming just 5 days before the opening game of the season will not do the club and in particular the players any favours. It is the players that may not face West Ham which many believe is the reason for O’Neill’s departure. The James Milner transfer ordeal has dragged on over the summer and it is thought that O’Neill may have been told that the funds from the impending transfer to Eastlands may not all be used on new transfer targets which has reportedly upset the manager.
Perhaps more worryingly are rumours that a deal may have been struck for Ashley Young to move on as well as Milner with a possible switch to Tottenham being touted. O’Neill had previously stated that he would not allow both players to be sold, but it is felt by many Villa fans that the decision has been taken out of his hands and it has not settled well with the ex-boss. Either way with a season opener just around the corner and no signings so far this summer the present situation does not look good for Villa. Add onto that the possible departure of their two best players and the season starts to look extremely bleak for the Midlands club.
Many bookmakers have already made Ajax boss Martin Jol, who earlier in the summer turned down a move to Fulham, as the favourite to replace O’Neill. Other usual suspects who will no doubt be linked with the vacancy include Sven Goran-Eriksson, Alan Curbishley and Jurgen Klinsmann. Whomever the new manager is will have an almighty task on their hands not only to restore the confidence of the players at the club, but to attract some new ones to offer new life to a Villa campaign that is rapidly failing before it has even began.