Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Gustavo Poyet on Aston Villa's radar?

It did not take long. It was never going to. Fresh from transforming Brighton and Hove Albion from relegation-haunted also-rans to tippy tappy title clinchers, Gustavo Poyet was always a name which would soon be banded around willy nilly whenever a management job came up.

First came the Fulham job. The Seagulls' potential escaped unscathed after Al Fayed opted for Martin Jol. Had the Egyptian millionaire plumped for Poyet, it was not even clear-cut he would have left - however at home he feels in West London.

Speaking at the end of the season, the madcap Uruguayan was pragmatic about the onslaught of seasonal silly stories that the annual management merry-go-round brings with it.

“I am sure there are going to be some rumours," he told fans. "But I am not bothered about that."

He may not be, but fans of a nervous disposition certainly are. This week Poyet's name has been linked to the empty hot seat at Villa Park. And, with Birmingham City playing hardball over their current numero uno Alex McGleish, the odds on Poyet upping sticks and leaving sunny Sussex for the gloomy West Midlands have dropped to a low of 10-1.

Professional commentator Barry Swain told anyone who would listen (or rather tweeted to his followers) that he was sticking a wad on Poyet to clinch the Villa job, and, perhaps more alarmingly, The Mail's Patrick Collins mentioned that Villa were said to have booked a private plane to hurry him to the Midlands for an interview, then hurriedly cancelled it.

Elsewhere The Independent's Sam Wallace - a regular on Sky's Sunday Supplement - also alluded to the chance the Brighton head coach could be on Randy Lerner's shortlist.

Brighton fans have been stoical in their belief that their beloved boss would resist any advances, opting instead to stay and complete Project Premiership on the south coast.

And Poyet's previous chat on the subject will certainly strengthen the resolve of any Albion fans who see Villa as nothing more than an average Premiership outfit.

Poyet was quoted in the local press as saying: "One great way for a manager is to stay at your club for ten to 15 years.

"Of course, I want to improve all the time and if that happened or you could set up a whole system in the whole club it would be unbelievable."

However, he did concede he could not rule himself out of any future jobs completely. "Who knows? It’s very difficult and unfair to say I’m going nowhere and then you go and you look stupid.

“It would have to be something very, very, very unique, something very, very special."

Whether the Villa job is as special as it once was is open to debate. Whether an aspiring, young manager would turn down the chance to manage the biggest club in Second City in what he considers to be Europe's top domestic competition is less so.

Villa, lest we forget, are former European Cup winners. Brighton, on the other hand, once lost the FA Cup Final. Villa can call on home crowds of 38,000 - something that, despite record season ticket sales, it is unlikely Brighton will ever be able to.

And, in Randy Lerner, Aston Villa have the sort of solid, feet-on-the-ground foreign ownership the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea can only look at admiringly.

Poyet wants to end up at the top. He won't get a top five job without Premiership experience. He might get that at The Amex. But, in football, might is a big word.

Any Brighton fan who honestly, hand on heart, thinks Gus would turn Villa down, is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. The Seagulls have massive potential, but in the right hands Villa could muscle in on Europe's elite. Turning that once proud club into genuine challengers at the top table of world football is an opportunity Poyet could surely not turn down.

1 comment:

  1. Turned out not to matter, but I genuinely DO think he'd have turned them down (assuming they'd been given permission to speak to him). Maybe not if he'd already served a further year with us in the Championship, but at this stage I think he genuinely thinks he's got something going with us and wants to see it, if not out, then at least further.