Why Lee Johnson should be target No1 for Aston Villa



Aston Villa to be promoted

The fact that the likes of Watford and Southampton have done well in recent seasons despite going through regular management change shows that new bosses getting their ideas and philosophies across quickly can be achieved.

This wasn’t happening for Roberto Di Matteo at Aston Villa following a run of a solitary victory across the opening 11 Championship games of the season, which came at home to 1/4 relegation favourites Rotherham.

A defeat at Preston, coupled with supporter criticism which is typically hard to recover from and the worst performance of the club’s season, has caused Villa to be looking for a fourth permanent boss in 20 months.

They have already tried someone with the ability to galvanise and put an arm around a shoulder (Tim Sherwood), a respected overseas manager (Remi Garde) and a Champions League winner (Di Matteo).

What they now need is someone with a defined playing style that can make the most of Villa’s clear attacking assets, alongside having the hunger and fresh ideas that can help the club return to the Premier League.

The likes of Steve Bruce, Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce would bring experience, but arguably could only take the club so far.

Looking at the current Championship table, younger managers looking for an opportunity in the top-flight are blossoming. David Wagner has Huddersfield top, while Bristol City and Birmingham, under the guidance of Lee Johnson and Gary Rowett respectively, are flying high in the play-offs.

Johnson in an especially interesting case, as he has barely put a foot wrong in any of his three managerial roles to date. He is 7/1 to be the next Aston Villa manager.

He overachieved at Oldham when having them kicking around mid-table in League One on a limited budget, he laid the foundations for Barnsley securing promotion to the Championship and is now overseeing Bristol City’s play-off push.

Johnson seems to gain the respect of the players, is tactically astute and has a preference for high intensity, attacking football.

Villa certainly have the players to flourish in such a style, with much of their build-up in the past 12 months being slow, laborious and inaccurate.

The likes of Jack Grealish, Albert Adomah, Jordan Ayew, Ross McCormack and Jonathan Kodjia, who has already been effective under Johnson at Bristol City, have the skills to make Villa arguably the most formidable attack in the Championship if tactically set-up correctly and given the confidence to make things happen.

Although the demand for instant promotion is understandable, Villa do need to be prepared to back a manager longer term. Johnson looks the ideal man to get behind.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing


Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.