Aston Villa manager choice is biggest decision for 30 years
Remi Garde will go down as club's worst-ever boss and leaves the new man with a fight on his hands
Former Manchester United boss David Moyes and ex-Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson have the dubious honour of being the favourites to take over coaching duties at Aston Villa after Remi Garde left the club by "mutual consent" on Tuesday.
The Frenchman will go down as "shortest-serving and statistically the worst manager in the club's 142-year history", notes the Express & Star newspaper. He leaves with a win ratio of just 13 per cent after 23 games and with Villa rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, 11 points from safety.
The club have only been at a lower ebb than this once before, says the paper. That was when they were banished to the third tier of English football in 1970.
The identity of the new manager is the "most important decision" Aston Villa has had to take in 30 years, says the Birmingham Mail.
"It's essential for Villa to bounce straight back when they are inevitably relegated purely because of the size of the club," it says. "We've seen what’s happened to the likes of Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday when they’ve failed to turn it around and the thought of that happening in B6 is depressing."
Aston Villa will have two years of parachute payments to prevent them from going under, but if they are not back in the top flight after that time, they will sink like a stone.
Garde's reign was dire but he was unable to sign new players and it has become apparent that the current squad is not up to the task. The Mail contrasts Villa's attitude to that of table-toppers Leicester City, saying the Birmingham squad appears divided and uncommitted and the club needs "players who are hungry to succeed, passionate to improve their own careers and help take the club forward".
With Villa doomed, the decision might not be taken immediately and caretaker boss Eric Black could find himself the man in charge when the ship goes down, while a three-man committee seeks the right appointment.
"The committee is taking a realistic approach towards the fact a new man will probably not want to be associated with taking the team down to the Championship," says Sky Sports.
Moyes, who failed at Real Sociedad after being sacked by Manchester United, and Pearson, who led Leicester's dramatic escape from relegation last season only to lose his job in the summer, are both 7-4 with Ladbrokes.
Former Swansea manager Gary Monk is 10-1 and Brendan Rodgers, sacked by Liverpool in October, is an outside bet at 14-1.