Villa owner Xia promises Premier League return


London (AFP) – Aston Villa’s Chinese owner Tony Xia has pledged to restore the relegated Premier League club to their former glory as soon as possible. 

Xia, whose Chinese name is Xia Jiantong, purchased Villa on Wednesday for a reported $87 million and is looking to hire a new manager quickly before bringing in a host of players in a bid to transform the troubled club’s fortunes.

Villa were relegated for the first time in 29 years this season amid acrimonious fan protests against their underperforming players and previous owner Randy Lerner.

Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde were both sacked after disappointing spells as Villa’s manager this season and former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson and ex-Chelsea chief Roberto di Matteo are reportedly the leading contenders to take charge.

Xia knows getting the managerial appointment right is essential if Villa are to fulfil his ambition of winning promotion from the Championship next term and eventually becoming one of the world’s major clubs.

“My ambition is to bring Villa to the top six in less than five years and I hope it can be one of the top three in the world – even the best well known in the world — in less than 10 years,” Xia told the Guardian.

“The most critical thing now is to get the right manager.

“We need a really good coach who knows how to play in the Championship. It’s even harder than the Premiership. We need to figure out how to reorganise the team.”

Xia is hopeful Villa fans will get behind him now Lerner has gone and the 39-year-old businessman called on them to concentrate on a brighter future rather than dwelling on past failures.

“Forget the past and think we are going to enter into a new age,” he said.

“The first priority is to get promoted. I feel a lot of pressure. I think a lot of Villa fans are eager to get back up to the Premiership, so the next one year will be very tough for me. I hope we can do it.”

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