The Premier League has been thrown into turmoil just five days before the 2010/11 season gets underway, with Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill sensationally resigning from his post in the Midlands.
Tensions had been building and a weekend meeting with Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner did not go well.
O’Neill was seeking assurances that he would not have to sell young England internationals Ashley Young and James Milner to Spurs and Manchester City respectively.
But O’Neill was expected to continue despite Milner’s impending transfer to the north west.
The news has come as a massive shock to fans, who have seen their club climb the Premier League table since the Northern Irishman’s arrival back in the summer of 2006.
Champions League football was always the aim for O’Neill and his long time assistant John Robertson, and after heavy investment in the first two years of his tenure a chance of getting that all-important fourth place looked achievable.
However, Tottenham’s resurgence under Harry Redknapp and the Abu Dhabi takeover at Eastlands meant that the dream looks further away than ever for Villa.
There are no clear candidates who look primed to take the reins at Villa Park, with Lerner rumoured to be looking at the American national team coach Bob Bradley.
Former England boss Sven Goran-Eriksson is still a free agent and after missing out on the Fulham job to Welshman Mark Hughes may fancy taking on the challenge again following his abrupt departure from Manchester City in 2008.
The silky Swede is 8/1 with bookie Betfred to be Villa’s new gaffer.