It is now time to take stock of the situation. This is not the end of the world, but as with most things at Aston Villa, it is descending into a public relations disaster. One wonders quite where the search for a new manager will take us next.
Roberto Martinez’s decision to remain loyal to his club, fulfill his current contract and take Dave Whelen up on his offer of improved terms, which he’s earned, is admirable.
However, it would be ignorant and deluded of Villa fans to not recognise that the inability to prize Martinez from Wigan is deeply embarrassing. There can be no hiding and no excuses. The fact is that we made an approach for a manager at one of the smallest clubs in the division and have been politely rebutted. And that is with the greatest respect to Wigan.
This puts Aston Villa in a suddenly very difficult position. Martinez, whilst a risk owing to his relative inexperience, did tick a number of boxes. He can work to a budget, he can get a great deal from largely ordinary players and would not have rocked the boat. The club is now faced with the prospect of having to re-cover old ground. Should we pursue Benitez and meet his spending demands? How do you go back around the table to the Steve McClaren’s of this world and save face after withdrawing so publicly from them.
And let us not forget that Martinez was unlikely to have been the club’s first choice. As balmy as the reports are I do not for one second think that Randy Lerner hasn’t put the feelers out for a coach of the calibre of Ancellotti. The major problem is that in the modern game we are no longer amongst the big fish. If we are completely honest, the draw of our once proud club seems to ebb away a little more with each season that passes. If we snatched Ancellotti would we expect to be able to fund the players and subsequent wages that a manager such as he could bring. So, even if we could appoint him, what would be the point?
The drawing board, one imagines, is now being firmly scrutinised. The club needs to perhaps forego the gentlemanly approach so lauded by Whelen and become a little more ruthless. This might mean ruffling a few feathers and tarnishing our “ever so nice” reputation. But I’d rather we went all out for someone like David Moyes than mess around, somewhat aimlessly it would appear, as we are right now.
Martinez saying no is by no means the worst thing that could have happened. A great deal of risk would have been inherited by his mere appointment. I would be more concerned if he had said that Wigan matched his ambitions, one hopes that he’s just a man happy where he is. Or else we’re in real trouble.
And so the search continues…