Aston Villa chief lines up Gareth Southgate and Kevin MacDonald as next manager team
May 27 2012 By Dave Kidd
GARETH SOUTHGATE and Kevin MacDonald are tipped to form an unlikely managerial team at Aston Villa.
The duo are serious candidates to replace axed Alex McLeish, with former Villa skipper Southgate - currently the FA's head of elite development - enjoying an excellent relationship with popular Villa coach MacDonald.
First choice Roberto Martinez is not likely to take the post, even if he misses out on the Liverpool job he was interviewed for this week.
Paul Lambert is another contender but he's increasingly reluctant to leave Norwich after Villa owner Randy Lerner discussed the position with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Lambert believed he and Martinez were the only two names in the frame i h f and it is now by no means certain he would accept the Villa job.
Southgate has yet to agree a role as the FA's new technical director and although his one previous managerial position saw him suffer relegation at Middlesbrough, he was a hero in his playing days at Villa.
The 41-year-old (right) currently combines his elite development role with work as an ITV pundit and has been earmarked for the new technical director's job which would see him working at the new National Football Centre at Burton. Villa would like MacDonald, a former caretaker boss who has helped develop many of the club's younger players as reserve team chief and first-team coach, to have a senior role in the next regime.
MacDonald is popular with the players and enjoyed a spell in temporary charge before Gerard Houllier's appointment in 2010.
But the Scot would prefer a No.2 role rather than taking the top job himself.
Solskjaer snubbed Villa last weekend to stay at Norwegian club Molde, just as Martinez turned them down to remain at Wigan last summer. Villa still want Martinez but their patience is fast running out, as the Spaniard waits to hear whether he will be offered the Liverpool job.
Lambert was favourite to succeed McLeish and Norwich players were convinced he was set to leave after their final game of the season, when they ironically defeated Villa, who sacked McLeish the following day.
The Canaries boss was unhappy about a squeeze on finances at Carrow Road, which led to striker Grant Holt handing in a transfer request last week.
But that situation looks like being resolved with a new deal for Holt, the club's top scorer last term.
Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez remains keen on the Villa job and has been heavily backed by punters in recent days.
Yet Villa are seriously considering Southgate, a rank outsider with the bookies, to take over at the club he played for between 1995 and 2001.