Hughes back in frame after Martinez stays put at Wigan

 

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa face a difficult task if they are to persuade Mark Hughes to help them out of the hole created by Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martinez rejecting their overtures for the manager's job – but the Welshman does not seem to have entirely dismissed the idea of succeeding Gérard Houllier.

Hughes – who, with Bolton Wanderers' Owen Coyle, seems the mostly likely choice – is taking time to weigh his options having left a situation at Fulham which had become a source of increasing frustration to him, with no decisions forthcoming about investment.

The Turkey job may be one option for the 47-year-old if Guus Hiddink vacates it for Chelsea. But the Villa role is certainly one he would have taken last summer, if Martin O'Neill had resigned before Hughes accepted the Fulham job, and the Midlands suits him on a practical level, with his family still in Cheshire.

Villa have some explaining to do, however. Hughes was astonished that they had passed him over for the manager's job because of the manner of his departure from Craven Cottage. Hughes's desperation for answers from his superiors at Fulham about owner Mohammed al-Fayed's willingness to invest in an ageing squad was an important part of the background to him leaving. Such factors have been overlooked and the Welshman's departure viewed instead as the actions of an individual desperate to move up another level.

Villa have not made contact with Hughes and may prefer Coyle, whose decision to leave Burnley, who were subsequently relegated, in mid-season last year for Bolton also seems no less a sign of ambition than Hughes has shown.

Villa's task of selling themselves to a potential manager has been made harder by Martinez's decision to stick with his conviction that he owes Wigan at least one more year. Whoever takes over faces a far more parsimonious environment than the one O'Neill enjoyed before he left, frustrated with lack of resources as he saw it, last August.

Though owner Randy Lerner spent £18m on Darren Bent in January, he is fed up of investing for no return. Hughes may not feel this landscape is conducive to him building on his re-established reputation, though Coyle may conclude that the only way is down at Bolton, the cost of whose 14th-place Premier League finish was £35m of losses, £93m of debts and £85m of loans.

Villa's handling of the Houllier succession has been baffling, with Steve McClaren given grounds to believe the job was his, then told it was not. It can only be assumed that Lerner arrived from America on Monday expecting Martinez to want the job. Villa's brief statement yesterday pointedly said that the club had not spoken with Martinez.

Neil Warnock

In 1991, successive promotions brought Notts County and Warnock to the top flight. He was offered the Chelsea job, but stayed at Notts, who were relegated and he was sacked. It took Warnock 14 years to return to the top flight.

David Moyes

The Scot had a decent reputation at Preston North End when, in 2001, Alex Ferguson asked him to become his assistant at Manchester United. Moyes turned down United, and a year later became Everton manager.

Jose Mourinho

Mourinho was on the staff at Barcelona in 2000 when his mentor, Bobby Robson, asked him to be his assistant at Newcastle. The Portuguese said no and soon became coach at Benfica instead. Thus began a remarkable career.

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