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Aston Villa
Posted by Kevin Hughes on 05/25/2012

So much for Solskjaer, and a swift conclusion to Villa's latest managerial search. Following the Norwegian's decision to withdraw himself from the running for the position as coach, seemingly before he had even been offered the position, concluded a series of rather bizarre days for Villa.

In the hours following the dismissal of Alex McLeish, shortlists - and longlists - of potential successors did the rounds. Solskjaer's name wouldn't have been on many. Considered a wild card, a left-field choice by a minority, sure, but well behind the usual suspects.

But then came the leaked news of Solskjaer on a private jet, accompanied by agent and wife, for discussions with Villa owner Randy Lerner, and the chief executive, Paul Faulkner. Four hours of discussion, reportedly. Lerner flew back to the States; Solskjaer returned to Norway, and preparations for Molde, the club he led to the domestic league title in his first season. Villa fans awaited the inevitable announcement. Reputable sources claimed a deal was all but done.

Instead, oddly, Solskjaer made reference to the meeting being more of a 'chat' than negotiations - which seemed at odds with Lerner laying on a jet to bring him to Birmingham. Still, the outcome seemed certain. By the beginning of this week, however, and just hours after meeting with Molde officials, news emerged that Solskjaer had decided to make himself unavailable. Whether he was actually offered the job or not seems rather muddled, though the indications are that he wasn't, and that he wasn't the only candidate Villa were meeting.

And so, in a matter of days, Solskjaer had gone from nowhere man to the popular choice of the fans, and those same fans felt disappointed by the eventual outcome. Which says more for the desire of Villa fans to move on from the flatness of last season, to leave the directionless of life under McLeish behind and get on with something bright and new and optimistic.

The idea of Solskjaer appealed. Not to bother ourselves too much with the reality. Which is what? Confession time: I don't know too much about Solskjaer's ability as a coach, apart from the bald facts of his apprenticeship as Manchester United's reserve team coach, and his impressive inaugural success at Molde, delivering a first league title for over 100 years. That can't be denied. But style, ethos? Not sure. He's young, and fresh, and those who know more than I - England's new coaching recruit, Gary Neville, for one - talk very highly of him. No coaching experience in the Premier League, though Solskjaer would certainly be no stranger to the league.

Last week, as the rumours heated up, one video clip did the rounds. It was around 40 seconds long, and showed Solskjaer berating his Molde players for not being decisive enough in front of goal, during a training session. "Shoot!" he implored. "Shoot!" "Shoot!" "Shoot!" 'Shoot!"

You get the idea. I couldn't help but think: had that been a clip of McLeish doing the very same thing, he'd have been hung out to dry and dismissed as yesterday's man with draconian methods. It's all about the image.

The acclaim for Solskjaer was, I believe, less about the man himself, and more about the model. Villa, if they are looking at this kind of candidate, are on the right lines. It's time to break away from Premier League experience as being too critical in the criteria - experience can be good as well as bad, and there is, literally, a whole world out there in terms of coaching talent.

Coaches who have not been scarred by negative experience. Coaches who have demonstrated an ability to build a team, and guide a team, and thrive with a team, on transfer and salary budgets that are dwarfed by the average Premier League giant. To encourage a higher level of performance from a modest player through technique, tactical insight, motivation and good, old fashioned man management.

Here is the model of coach Aston Villa needs, because I believe a coach with those abilities can use them to transcend from a lower division, or from an overseas league, into the Premier League. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have decided against moving his family from the comfort of Norway, on this occasion, there are other coaches of his equal, and more, and Villa's bosses must not be deterred from their ideal.


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Comments

Posted by Rob on 05/27/2012

That's a great piece, Kevin, and sums up exactly how I feel about things. I have a funny feeling that we may not have heard the last of Solksjaer. A hunch or wishful thinking? A bit of both. By the way, I do hope you carry on as the Villa correspondent next season.

Posted by Jordi_Cruyff on 05/31/2012

As a Man Utd fan, and by virtue a huge supporter and admirer of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I would have loved to see him further himself at a club that needs a spark to awaken to their true potential. I was delighted to see Villa stay up, and hope that you find someone to steady the ship and take you forward. Always been my 2nd favourite team..

All the best...

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About
Kevin Hughes Kevin Hughes spent the best part of ten years working and writing for the football magazine Match; once (sort of) inspiring David Beckham to copy his shaved-hair look, getting lost in Paris after the 1998 France v Croatia World Cup semi-final and other such nonsense. As Deputy Editor, he launched and established Sport, the London-based free weekly magazine, before moving on to become a consumer magazine publisher, a position he holds today. Introduced to Villa by his father and grandfather, he attended his first ever match at Villa Park as a seven-year-old in 1982… and has suffered almost constant disappointment since. You can follow him on twitter @KevHughesie

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