By J Hutcherson (Oct 4, 2016) US Soccer Players – Aston Villa has a new manager, something that isn’t necessarily worth shocked looks. Roberto Di Matteo is out for the obvious reason. They’re not winning.
Aston Villa Football Club has today parted company with manager Roberto Di Matteo,” the club’s statement reads. “The Club decided to act following a run of disappointing results which has the left the team occupying 19th position in the Championship. The Club would like to place on record its appreciation to Roberto for all his efforts in helping rebuild the squad and wish him well for the future. Steve Clarke will take over as caretaker manager during the search for a new manager. There will be no further comment from the Club.
There will be further comment from your friends at the soccer news. Villa isn’t in a unique position here. It’s not the first time clubs have fallen out of the Premier League only to discover they’re not very good Championship clubs either. That doesn’t mean double relegation, at least not necessarily. It does mean resetting the timetable for returning to the topflight. With that come real costs across the board.
Newcastle United has the drawing power and the willingness to keep together a Premier League-lite squad in the Championship. It’s already an advantage, but they’re not the runaway leaders. They’re in 3rd-place, a point behind Norwich City and three points behind Huddersfield Town.
Huddersfield Town spent £1.8m pounds on 1860 Munich defender Christopher Schindler. The rest of their moves were either free transfers or the value not reported. There’s no indication that they were beating what they spent on Schindler. There’s also not much of an indication that they’ve built the type of team that would do any better than Newcastle or Aston Villa in last season’s Premier League. The left side of their defense and their #9 used to play in Germany, but Huddersfield isn’t a cosmopolitan destination poaching the very best players.
That’s the problem the Championship creates. Good enough to win there probably isn’t good enough to win a league up. So what does a relegated Premier League club do? Some of this is entirely out of their hands. Player contracts can have relegation clauses. Other Premier League clubs make offers knowing there’s not much a relegated club can refuse.
Villa spent, but their big buy was Jonathan Kodjia from Bristol City at £15m and Ross Mccormack from Fulham at £12m. They lost Guxan on a free to Middlesbrough alongside Adama Traore. Idrissa Gueye left for Everton at £7.1m. Ciaran Clark ended up at Newcastle for £5m. If you look at Villa’s trasfers in, it’s tough to see a club building to win in the Championship versus one thinking about their Premier League future. We’re back to the Championship problem. Plan for one league while playing in another and it’s all too easy to drop points against teams on a tighter budget.
It’s hard to imagine Villa spending next season like they did for this season if they’re still playing in the Championship. Even with Premier League solidarity payments in play, there comes a time when too much is too much. It comes quickly when the realization hits that the players aren’t available regardless of the money.
With all of that in mind, Villa made the right move and they made it on schedule. Di Matteo had enough time to show whether or not he was up to the unique challenges of the Championship. The results do the talking. What Villa needs right now is enough consistency to become the favorite in most of the games on their schedule. This season can still turn into a promotion push. That quick return to the Premier League is still in play. What they can’t afford to do is accept their situation.
J Hutcherson started covering soccer in 1999 and has worked as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him email@example.com.
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