Aston Villa’s Kevin MacDonald has been given the next two matches to prove whether he’s capable of doing the job on a permanent basis. The first match is Thursday night in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna, which is followed by Sunday’s game against Everton.
While many Villa players and supporters are believed to be backing MacDonald for the permanent position, the proof will be in the pudding as MacDonald will be faced with the difficult task of turning around his Villa side after an emphatic six-nil loss versus Newcastle United this past Sunday.
Outside of Villa Park, we know that both Sven-Goran Eriksson and Bob Bradley have expressed an interest in becoming the next Aston Villa manager. The names of Martin Jol and Ronald Koeman have also been mentioned. But Randy Lerner runs a tight ship at Aston Villa and there have been no leaks to the press regarding which managers are being seriously considered. But, we do know that based on how Villa does in these next two games will dictate whether MacDonald will be at the helm or not.
The question of whether Bob Bradley is ready for a Premier League management position is an intriguing one. If he was ever given the chance, Aston Villa would be the ideal opportunity. The team already has a few American players (Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj). Plus, the club is owned by Lerner, an American. So if Bradley stepped into the position, the anti-Americanism that was felt at Old Trafford and Anfield, would not be a factor.
In terms of man management, player development and handling the press, Bradley would take time to adapt but he would get high marks in all three of those areas. He has the experience coaching at the level of Major League Soccer and on the international stage that would enable him to excel there.
The only weakness I see in Bradley is tactical. With the United States men’s national team, his tactics have been far too negative in my opinion. He’s a coach that would often play a 4-5-1 instead of being more adventurous with a 4-3-3. But perhaps this was more a decision based on playing to the team’s best interests than his tactical preference? It’s difficult to say, but this is the one question mark I have about Bradley. And it’s a big one.
That said, I believe if ever there was an opportunity for an American coach to manage in the Premier League for the perfect club, Bob Bradley for Aston Villa is it. I’m confident that he would be able to walk into the club and make some subtle changes that would have a positive impact on Villa. Whether he would have what it takes to improve Villa in the league on a consistent basis is unproven, but that’s a risk that owners need to make at times. Brits who have had much less experience in management have been thrust into key management positions in the past, so Bradley would be a safer bet than those. Whoever takes the permanent position at Villa will be stepping into big boots vacated by Martin O’Neill. It’s a club that has a lot of potential and is underperforming to its abilities.
If MacDonald fails to achieve two wins in the next two games, I believe Bradley should be given a chance to manage Aston Villa. Lerner has to do what’s best for Villa, but if MacDonald can’t meet expectations, I see no reason why Bradley could not do any worse than Sven.