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The trouble with starting a post like this is that there's so much wrong with the recent appointments, I'm worried I'll drone on before getting to my point; these are both unambitious choices which reek of ignorance and short-termism. So I've put it there, front and centre in the first paragraph.


Both Aston Villa and Derby are at a crossroads in their existence and while it makes some sense to plot the road most traveled to get promotion, it doesn't suggest they've a plan once that journey comes to an end.


Aston Villa have the stadium, the fan base, the history and the finances, to punch their weight in the top half of the top flight. They tried throwing money at their malaise for decades with little success. There needs to be a new approach. Shed the husk of the old Aston Villa, the beige, the boring, and  emerge as a dynamic progressive entity. Instead of the zombie of a club that eventually succumbed to relegation.


Derby would need a seismic shift in the footballing landscape to do much more than flirt with 9th or 10th in the Premier League.  Derby have a decent Youth system, a big population to draw from and a decent reputation in the game, but they're limited. They've a lot of clubs on their doorstep, they don't have the financial muscle that others do and their squad isn't the finished article. That said, it's not impossible, look at Southampton, at Swansea or Spurs. They've ignored the outmoded hierarchy and usurped traditionally bigger clubs who haven't evolved.


Now, both Bruce & McClaren have proven incapable in the modern Premier League. While McClaren hasn't suffered the ignominy of relegation he's left clubs upon the precipice. His brand of football and avuncular charm may well work for players in that envelope between the top 2 flights when striving for promotion, it just won't cut it in the crucible of England's top flight. Derby know that Steve McClaren will get them into the Play Off conversation and would rather get back into bed with him than risk a new relationship.

Bruce has a proven, irrefutable ability to get teams promoted from the 2nd tier, but has been found woefully lacking the next season.


Aston Villa aren't going to get promoted this season. Lets be clear on this, they're 15pts off the leaders, they're 10 points off the playoff positions and they've an unbalanced, discouraged side. So, if that's accepted, this year is a dead-rubber.

The kind of clubs that should be courting these two men are the likes of Bristol, or Birmingham, clubs who's ambitions are to become that yo-yo club and benefit from the Premier League's absurd tv deals. They could bounce between the leagues for a few years, (as Norwich have) until they're promoted with a squad too good for the Championship and short only 1-3 players who'll lock in their Premier League survival.



If I were Dr Xia, the kind of man I'd be looking for is Wagner, or Rowett, or Grayson. A new breed of manager who's potential is unclear, they could strip out the deadwood at Villa Park, bring in a fresh approach, with fresh coaches and fresh ideas. Wagner has turned Huddersfield into a mid-table or better Championship team with 1 decent summer and a clear vision. They have the financial clout to spend another year outside the top flight, especially if they can lose a lot of the high earners.


If I were Mel Morris I'd have fled from any meeting with McClaren. This is the guy that failed to get his club promoted after a cataclysmic end to the season, a guy that spectacularly failed in the Premier League despite spending a fortune on stars from abroad and closer to home. Players who have since left the club for eye watering sums to play for clubs who're playing at the upper reaches of football's pyramid. Yes, he knows the club and the league, but isn't that part of the problem?


Both are decent managers, but both are uninspiring. Both have experience in the Championship, but both have failed in the league the club is aiming to make their home.


It's like asking your mates where you fancy going for dinner and because of anxiety and ignorance you all end up going to Nandos.

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Villa have tried young, fresh managers. They've had Garde, Sherwood and Lambert and none of them were a success. Their key aim should be to get promoted and there's no other manager available who is better equipped for the job than Bruce.


Football is very much a short term game these days. Saying that, the McClaren appointment is baffling.

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Someone is missing their podcast.

:cry: yup


Villa have tried young, fresh managers. They've had Garde, Sherwood and Lambert and none of them were a success. Their key aim should be to get promoted and there's no other manager available who is better equipped for the job than Bruce.


Football is very much a short term game these days. Saying that, the McClaren appointment is baffling.


But, once they're promoted, what next? Bruce isn't good enough in the modern Premier League to achieve much more than survival which, for a club like Aston Villa surely isn't good enough? And the short termism is the problem. Bruce may well get them promoted in a season or two, but they'll remain the same shade of a once proud club that they are now. For me, this appointment relegated Villa into a bracket of clubs like Wigan, Birmingham City, Derby, Norwich, Wolves etc. In a way that appointing Grayson or Rowett wouldn't have.


I disagree that Bruce has proven incapable in the premier league tbh, when you look at the clubs he's had in the PL he's been pretty much fine.


The highest he's ever finished is 10th. He's been relegated twice. He's done ok at unfashionable clubs like Wigan or sunderland because they seem unable to progress beyond that modest position, (and who ultimately succumbed to relegation anyway) but aren't Villa's ambitions loftier than that? 


Never mind that these two appointments prolong the perception that it's good sense to look for the quick fix.

Edited by The Fish
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I wouldn't write Villa off for promotion at this stage.  Every season in the championship you teams making a late charge up the table and it's not even that late at the minute.  Bruce may well be the man to do that for them, as you say he knows how to get promotion, especially when Villa have the resources to spend significantly in January.  He might not be an exciting or particularly long term proposition for them but if he gets them up and stabilises them in the premiership for a season, I think that Xia won't be afraid to get rid of him them and look for someone who might be able to move them on further.


Similarly to Villa, Derby have also tried the route of a young up and coming guy when they appointed Clement last season.  He was a disaster for them so it's no surprise to see them turn to someone who's qualities they know.  Again he give them a chance of getting into the promotion mix this season.  Unlike Bruce though, he's going there on the back to two failures (one of them with them in this division).  In that respect I think they may have chosen the wrong man rather than the wrong type by looking to the old guard.


I agree neither appointment is very inspiring but I think it's very difficult to make the brave decision to turn to a more unknown quantity when you are in the position of these two clubs where you are expected to at the very least be right in amongst the promotion contention.  If they appoint someone like those you mention (I'm not convinced you should include Grayson mind) and they fail there will be hell on with their supporters.  The route they have taken (certainly in Villa's case) gives them the safest chance of quick success.  Teams like Bristol or Huddersfield who have never been in the premier league will be afforded much more leeway from their supporters which allows them to take the bigger risk which just might result in the bigger reward.

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Disagree on Bruce at Villa. I think exactly what they needed was one of the old guard to rescue them from long-term malaise. They've been pretty dismal since 2010/11 and that's been in extra-sharp focus over the past 18 months or so.


I could see an exciting, young but unproven manager go in and become gripped by the losing culture and jettisoned too soon. Bruce is actually not bad. Streets ahead of McClaren in terms of getting a club promoted or keeping them in the PL. Let's take a look at his CV (I'm skipping short spells at Huddersfield and Palace for expediency)...


Birmingham - gets them promoted to the PL for first time in 16 years, stay up for two years (12th and 13th), relegated in third season. Stays with them in Championship, then leaves after they are promoted in first season back


Wigan - keeps them up in PL in his first season, guides them to 11th in his second season


Sunderland - leads them to 13th in his first season and 10th in second season (they've never matched that since!). Sacked in 2011/12 with club 16th in November


Hull - gets them promoted at first attempt from Championship, guides them to 16th in first PL year, relegated in second season on last day. Promoted via play-offs in first season back in the Championship, at which point he leaves




So he's never failed to get a team promoted from the Championship and has been relegated twice (both with clubs you wouldn't count as traditional PL clubs, and both times he brought them straight back up). Has survived relegation in 7 of his 9 PL seasons.


Actually his CV has impressed me more than I would have thought. Given the pedigree of clubs he's managed, he's done pretty well. 

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