Despite chief executive Paul Faulkner’s stating earlier this week that Aston Villa won’t replace Gerard Houllier this late into the season, The Sun are reporting that they are hoping to convince Rafael Benitez to step in.
The Spaniard succeeded Houllier at Liverpool in 2004 and won the Champions League in his first season there, though given that his last job was with European champions Inter Milan, a switch to Villa Park appears unlikely.
The Villans are in a relegation battle that was unimaginable last May after a third successive top-six finish, however they have never recovered from Martin O’Neill’s shock resignation days before the campaign got underway.
If rumours are to be believed, Houllier’s presence is doing more harm than good with James Collins and Richard Dunne alleged to have rowed furiously with his coaching staff on what was intended to be a team-building exercise.
His choice of captain, Ashley Young, has come under fire from fans who suspect that he will be off in the summer regardless of whether they survive, while the Daily Mirror claimed on Friday that eight players are fed up and want out.
The second city side are an intriguing 9/2 to go down despite leaning precariously a point above the bottom three with eight games remaining.
Admittedly, their run-in isn’t the most daunting as they are yet to host Newcastle, Stoke and Wigan, but last week’s 1-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Wolves showed that no fixture can be taken for granted with the club in such a rut.
Three wins should be enough to stay safe, and trips to West Ham and West Brom present further opportunities to boost their 33-point tally, though those doubting their ability to deliver in those matches should take advantage of the generous odds on offer.
A £20 stake on Villa winding up in the drop zone would provide a £90 profit. New customers can sign up here to get £60 in free bets.