Exclusive: Aston Villa considering Steven Gerrard and Ralph Hasenhuttl as next manager after sacking Dean Smith

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Aston Villa considering Steven Gerrard and Ralph Hasenhuttl as next manager after sacking Dean Smith - AP
Aston Villa considering Steven Gerrard and Ralph Hasenhuttl as next manager after sacking Dean Smith - AP

Aston Villa are considering Steven Gerrard and Ralph Hasenhuttl to take over as their new manager, after sacking Dean Smith.

Gerrard, currently in charge of Rangers, and Hassenhuttl, the Southampton head coach, both feature highly on Villa's wishlist as they seek to replace Smith before the Premier League resumes the weekend after next.

Smith was told of Villa's decision by the club’s owners Nassef Sawiris, an Egyptian national, and American Wes Edens and chief executive Christian Purslow in a meeting on Sunday. The defeat to Hasenhuttl’s Southampton on Friday night was the fifth consecutive in a season that has so far seen Villa thrust into a relegation fight despite major owner investment.

Purslow spoke to Sawiris and Edens at 3pm on Saturday to discuss the situation. Smith was then called in for a meeting on Sunday lunchtime. Talks are understood to be amicable and while Smith accepted the decision, he pointed out that summer signings Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings had only been on field together for 24 minutes this season.

Craig Shakespeare, Smith's assistant, has also left but coaches Aaron Danks and set-piece specialist Austin MacPhee remain at the club.

It is the fifth sacking of the new Premier League season, a joint record for dismissals in the competition by November 7, along with the 2004/05 campaign. Norwich dismissed their head coach Daniel Farke on Saturday night, joining Xisco Munoz (Watford), Steve Bruce (Newcastle) and Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham) on the list of managers fired.

Villa's ownership group, as well as Danish sporting director Johan Lange, discussed options on Saturday over who should replace Smith. Lange is known to be an admirer of fellow Danes Kasper Hjulmand, the Denmark manager, and Brentford manager Thomas Frank. Paulo Fonseca and Lucien Favre are other candidates who are currently unattached.

Gerrard has a contract with Rangers until the summer of 2024 and is considered a major asset by the club. He has a connection with Purslow from their days at Liverpool together.

Hasenhuttl’s bond with Southampton is strong. The club’s chief executive Martin Semmens has stood by his manager through some tough periods including two 9-0 defeats and been rewarded for his loyalty with Premier League survival and stability this season so far. Nevertheless, Southampton's chances of progress are limited until they can find an owner to buy out Gao Jisheng.

Villa head into a critical period after the international break. Currently 16th on 10 points they play Brighton at home a week on Saturday; Crystal Palace away and then Manchester City and Leicester City at home.

Who is in the frame at Villa Park?

Steven Gerrard
Current club: Rangers
Has impressed since arriving at Ibrox in 2018, winning the club's first league title in 10 years last season. Long touted for an eventual return to Liverpool but would need another job before being considered for such a high-profile role.

Ralph Hassenhuttl
Current club: Southampton
The 54-year-old has done an excellent job in difficult circumstances at Southampton, where the budget has long been tightly constrained. Is known to have a good rapport with players and could be ready to move to a club with more significant resources.

Kasper Hjulmand
Current team: Denmark
Has only been in charge of Denmark for a little over a year but has already made a big impression, leading the team to the Euro 2020 semi-finals and earning widespread praise for his handling of the traumatic circumstances surrounding Christian Eriksen's on-field collapse in their opening game. He has secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup and may be loath to leave before that tournament.

Thomas Frank
Current club: Brentford
The 48-year-old spent his career in Denmark before becoming assistant manager to Dean Smith at Brentford in Dec 2016. Took over the head coach's role in 2018 and, after losing in the 2020 play-offs, he secured promotion the following season after beating Swansea at Wembley.

Paulo Fonseca
Current club: Unattached
Fonseca, 48, has been out of work since leaving AS Roma in May, when he was replaced by Jose Mourinho. Has since been linked to a variety of Premier League clubs, including Tottenham, where he seemed to be the frontrunner until director of football Fabio Paratici decided to go in a different direction.

Lucien Favre
Current club: Unattached
The 64-year-old left Borussia Dortmund in December 2020 after a run of bad results, but has a track record of improving mid-table clubs - taking Borussia Monchengladbach from the bottom of the Bundesliga to fourth. Favre, who secured two second-place finishes with Dortmund, turned down the chance to join Crystal Palace in the summer.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting