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Premier League Betting: Experience isn't everything

Premier League RSS / / 30 August 2010 /

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Kevin MacDonald is favourite to be next Villa manager

Kevin MacDonald is favourite to be next Villa manager

"Arsene Wenger was memorably dismissed as “Arsene who?” when he took the job at Highbury back in September 1996."

Ralph Ellis explains why Aston Villa are wrong to want a manager with Premier League experience as he rounds up the weekend's action.

The next manager of Aston Villa, according to the club's statement last night, must have "experience of managing in the Premier League." Which begs the question: How much experience?

After yesterday's 1-0 win over Everton, Caretaker Kevin MacDonald explained that he was going to make a decision today over whether he wanted to be a candidate. Villa's players certainly showed they wanted him, defending heroically through a second half battering as they clung on to Luke Young's first half goal.
But does the club's position mean their efforts were in vain? MacDonald remains [5.0] favourite for the job this morning, but does three games count as experience? If not then even if he decides he's ready to step up to the plate he's got no chance.

It's a peculiar stance, anyway. Carlo Ancelotti had no experience of managing in the Premier League when he turned up at Stamford Bridge at the start of last season. A League and FA Cup double later, he'll spend the international break top of the table with the division's only 100 per cent record, and his team [2.4] favourites to retain their title. Tony Pulis, whose Stoke side were beaten 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, hadn't managed in the top flight either before winning promotion and he's not done so badly in two seasons, has he?

In fact, only eight of the current top bosses had "experience of managing in the Premier League" before they began their current jobs. Sir Alex Ferguson had only worked in Scotland before Manchester United took him to Old Trafford. If they'd applied the Villa rule then the greatest managerial career in modern sport might never have happened.

Fergie is still on top of his game all these years later, as demonstrated when Wayne Rooney ended his goal drought and United strolled to a 3-0 win over West Ham. PL experience doesn't seem to be doing Avram Grant too much good, does it? Hammers have shortened to [2.74] for relegation after three defeats.

Arsene Wenger was memorably dismissed as "Arsene who?" by one paper when he took the job at Highbury back in September 1996. It's just as well the Gunners board had a wider view of the game than Randy Lerner. A 2-1 win at Blackburn where Sam Allardyce worked for both Bolton and Newcastle before taking over underlined that the Gunners deserve to be [6.6] third favourites for Wenger's fourth title.

Roberto Mancini didn't have experience of managing in England, of course, before he was handed the job of moulding Manchester City's £200million team together. Does a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland mean he's not up to it? It was hardly the boss's fault that Carlos Tevez missed the easiest chance you'll ever see.

Liverpool's Roy Hodgson did tick the "experienced" box when he went to Anfield this summer, which no doubt helped him persuade Fernando Torres to stay (annoyingly for me, nursing a big loss when the transfer window shuts and he's still there!) The Spanish striker got the only goal in a 1-0 win over West Brom, whose boss Roberto Di Matteo is new to the top flight.

Then there's the wonderful Ian Holloway, getting his first taste of the top the hard way, but making it four points from three games after a 2-2 draw with Fulham in Blackpool's first home game. Alex McLeish had also not managed in England before he started work at Birmingham, but a 2-2 draw at Bolton keeps his team undefeated and as short as [2.46] for a top 10 finish.

Chris Hughton is a good example for MacDonald. He had been a number two for years before he was asked to step up at Newcastle. The signs of Saturday's 1-1 draw at Wolves were that he's adjusted perfectly well. He'd got Joey Barton to keep a lid on his temper and supply the free kick from which Andy Carroll earned his first away point. Carroll has shot in to be [7.2] second favourite to be top English goalscorer.

There are few more experienced than Harry Redknapp, but he still couldn't stop Tottenham throwing away points as they lost 1-0 at home to Wigan (managed by Roberto Martinez who wouldn't have got his job year ago under the Villa principle).

The bottom line is that Villa owner Randy Lerner's stance makes Alan Curbishley [13.0] and Gareth Southgate [17.0] good outside bets if MacDonald doesn't get the chance. Would either be better qualified than the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann or Ronald Koeman? Answers on a postcard addressed to Villa Park.


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