Aston Villa Already Have Potential Di Matteo Replacement in Place

What role does Villa assistant manager Steve Clarke have, if he stays on?

Inside Job

When Roberto Di Matteo was originally announced by Aston Villa as their new manager, a lot of Villa supporters only felt at ease with the decision once Steve Clarke was announced as his number two (with Kevin Bond also on the coaching staff).

Part of the thinking was no doubt that if things went wrong for Di Matteo, then Villa would have a more capable caretaker manager than in previous transitional periods – Eric Black, anybody?

Clarke was formerly Jose Mourinho’s right-hand man in the Special One’s successful trophy-winning first stint with the club and also has experience in the role at Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool. Then, of course he was the manager of West Brom and Reading (he led them to their first FA Cup semi-final in 88 years).



There’s two trains of thought on Steve Clarke, one is he struggled to make his mark as the main man, but due to his top level experience, it could also be argued that he was perhaps sacked rashly, especially at West Brom.

Now the question is will he be leaving with Di Matteo, or do Villa regard him as a separate entity? To his credit, he was largely responsible for bringing in Aaron Tshibola, one of the brighter signings (if he shakes off his injury troubles), so far.

Bad Timing

In some respects, if Tony Xia, Keith Wyness and Steve Round decide to keep Clarke on at Villa, the international break may have come at a bad time for Villa’s assistant boss to have any real chance of bagging the top job.

If there wasn’t a break, Clarke potentially would have been put in charge as a caretaker manager, while the search began in earnest. This could have given him a chance to impress in the event of the search not reaching a satisfactory conclusion. If Clarke began to win games and got three points in each of the games against Wolves and Birmingham, then the Villa board maybe tempted to give him longer, especially if the fans were won over by good results.

After all, even now, most fans would take Clarke over the likes of Steve McClaren and some of the other jobless manager usual suspects.

The international break though does provide the Villa board with a two-week period where they could potentially make things happen. The odds are certainly against somebody in an existing job like the mooted David Wagner, the current boss of Huddersfield.

Mooted Names

Wagner’s attitude and managerial organisation certainly is what the doctor ordered for Villa, but it would need a compensation package for Huddersfield and they are very unlikely to want to upset the apple cart of a potential historic promotion push.

If the current league leaders Huddersfield gained promotion, the financial reward would make Wagner’s compensation payment seem like loose change down the back of the sofa. Also, Wagner has been in place since November and has a good thing going on with Huddersfield, taking them into the Premier League would be a bigger achievement than doing anything with Villa. There’s no doubt he’d want to see the fruits of his labour so far, pan out.

Considering the time period in question, a currently out of work manager is more likely for Villa, so that puts Steve Bruce in the running. Yes, the same Steve Bruce that Villa fans have tormented for years. But is he a sexy enough name for Tony Xia?

What happens to Steve Clarke is an interesting little sub-plot. If the search for a new Villa boss begins to stall and goes beyond the international break, he may have an increasingly bigger role to play at the club, if he sticks around.


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  1. Clark or rdm never really showed any passion for me most of all when they hid away in the dugout at Luton. Bruce is an ex nose so he’d really need to hit the ground running to get the fans on his side. Baker I think is hard done by to be kept out by elphick who wouldn’t be my choice for captain.

  2. Steve has made some good points and I concur with the majority of his observations. It may appear to some that the sacking of RDM is somewhat knee jerk and I read elsewhere that the players are shocked and felt that they where making progress. The recent performances of the team do not indicate any improvement. Football has changed over the last few years, all those concerned, managers, coaches and players all earn anormous amounts of money. We are now in an era of total professionalism and if the managers, coaches and players don’t reach the performance levels that their salaries require then cut them loose, none of them offer to pay back money if they are underperforming. As for the selection criteria for a new manager, well we have tried a ‘name’ lets go for a lesser known character who has real potential, RDM was a name but proved to be the wrong man.

  3. A feeling of Deja vu is not what I feel at present for some strange reason I feel the board have got it right….Football has too much money and corporate ties to hang back on making decisions …this was a little quick and premature in some ways but yet on the overall scheme of things the correct decision. RDM was given total backing and plenty of money to spend. The last 6 games or so it seems to be tactical decisions as well as that last 5 minutes where other teams see a chink in the armour of AVFC….as a manager these days its seems that you have to be totally in tune with the zeitgeist of tactics strategy skill fitness and attitude. If confidence has already been dented so early on with practically new team then the responsibility has to be with the manager. The modern game shows that 10 games in their is a pattern. Breaking patterns is not easy with the same managerial outlooks. You only have to look at inform teams such as Huddersfield and Bristol City no big spenders but have a plan a strategy good tactics great fitness and attitude. Going in the right direction …..The current table position shows how good Villa are and how good the manager is. These are professional men if they are given the right instruction on the pitch and are playing in their best positions they settle very quickly and work for each other. RDM should perhaps had another 3 months but when you invest 50m in a short space of time you expect to get confidence in the return on that investment 3 months down the line….I back the board on this as its never easy to make quick clear decisions without seeming irrational and responsive which could have kick backs in confidence with the players..hopefully they are made of better stuff thats why they were chosen in the first place if the judgements are right. No rush to replace I feel Steve Clarke has yet to fulfil his potential as a manager in his own right, he has a small window of opportunity with two weeks break. Thats two weeks to get the confidence of the players and get them motivated and working in the right direction. It might be time to think about that Burnley interest for Westwood. Who ever comes in next isn’t going to be easy for them and they will need to hit the floor running. I have confidence we can bounce back quickly but do need someone who is tactically astute who has a plan – I find the spanish managers have been successful in the UK and we ought to not rule out looking in that direction.

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