Villa have tantalising shot at nabbing elite coach like Pochettino if they abandon Gerrard experiment now

Villa have tantalising shot at nabbing elite coach like Pochettino if they abandon Gerrard experiment now

We’d love to see a Tuchel or a Pochettino have a crack at the Villa job. Elite boss + non-elite club = fun

There are three ways for non-elite clubs to breach the top six. Get loads of money. Recruit brilliantly. Get a brilliant manager.

Manchester City led with the first, followed with the second and then nailed the third. Spurs had quite a bit of the first then did a great deal of the second and found the third.

Nobody else has managed to make it stick since. The Big Four became a Big Six and that’s still where we are.

But others have come close, most obviously Leicester. Brendan will tell you that it was because of the third element; he’s not entirely wrong, either.

And of the three main routes to trying to infiltrate the elite, appointing a world-class manager is definitely the most interesting and potentially the most fun.

Newcastle have the best chance of joining a Big Seven, for obvious reasons, but at the moment are still attempting it with a decent coach, but a non-elite (or at least pre-elite) one.

The most fun comes when an elite coach turns up at a non-elite club, because it changes the whole dynamic. Newcastle will continue to improve steadily under Eddie Howe, but we’ll wager he’s not in the dugout when and if the major breakthrough happens.

Brighton, meanwhile, had the ultimate pre-elite coach. He’s clearly going to go on to greatness and improved Brighton wildly. But he still didn’t quite fit the ‘elite coach at non-elite club’ definition. He was Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, and now he’s off trying to be the Spurs version of Poch at Chelsea, except with trophies. We reckon he’ll do it, too.

Brighton certainly seem to have become an even more xG-banter club in his absence, which raises the horrifying prospect that Potter was actually making that less dramatic than it would otherwise have been. The Forest game on Tuesday night took Brighton’s long-running gag to new and truly absurd heights.

But Potter is off being all elite at an established elite club now anyway, which was inevitable and deserved but is undoubtedly less fun.

The last time we had an undisputed elite manager at a determinedly sub-elite club was Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. And, for a little while anyway, it was absolutely excellent. Remember those giddy days at the start of that determinedly odd 2020/21 season when Everton were winning all their games and it seemed possible to imagine they might even do something truly extraordinary.

They won their first four Premier League games playing eye-catchingly wonderful football, with James doing bits and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looking every inch the heir to Kane. They were squashing teams in the Carabao as well and after a month of the season had won seven in a row scoring goals for fun and then played out a cracking 2-2 draw with Liverpool that ultimately derailed the Reds’ season really quite significantly.

Now sure, it all petered out into something a bit crap and because Everton couldn’t help being Everton they managed to end up 10th – the least interesting of all the finishing positions – and, when Zinedine Zidane decided to once again leave Real Madrid, Ancelotti was off and that was that.

But it was glorious fun for that short while when all things seemed possible.

Now they’re stuck like everyone else convincing themselves elite former players make elite managers, with Frank Lampard doing okay with what he has but no more than that despite what certain high-profile fans of Super Frank would have you believe.

You hear far less about Patrick Vieira’s Palace but they are more fun and far better than Lampard’s Everton, especially now the tricky early-season fixtures have been negotiated and the points are starting to flow. Lampard is definitely not winning the great Premier League midfielder-turned-manager game right now.

But he is doing significantly better than Steven Gerrard, and it is to here where there is tantalising hope of something. Certain lunatics may believe Gerrard can lead Villa to the top six, but the important thing about that is that no he isn’t. Villa are hovering a point above the relegation zone, and Gerrard certainly got more transfer-market help in the summer than Lampard was allowed.

The fans have turned and it does look like a matter of when not if. And Villa really do have the incentive to make that ‘when’ really very soon.

Because Thomas Tuchel and Pochettino are both out of work and both being linked with the job, along with Unai Emery who would be slightly less exciting but still fits the bill. They might well be tempted because Villa are, like Everton, the sort of fallen giant to stir the emotion and done right could be great. Both Tuchel and Pochettino might also relish a return to slightly less batshit insane high-profile football clubs after their recent experiences.

And at Villa they’d have an enticing squad to work with as well.

We’d imagine both men are closely monitoring, say, Howe’s performance at Newcastle and also Antonio Conte’s ever-changing moods at Tottenham. You’d certainly imagine they would quickly be the leading pair in the betting should either of those jobs come up.

But at the moment those jobs aren’t coming up and nor might a plausible chance at any other Big Six or wannabe Big Six club.

We’d love to see one of them have a crack at Villa, salvage this season and then have us all dreaming of something outrageous with a thrilling start to the next one.

And then finishing 10th and going to Real Madrid, because we aren’t allowed nice things. But it’s nice to at least be able to dream about them, isn’t it? Come on, Villa. You know it makes sense.

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