Highly rated MacDonald thrust into Villa spotlight

Up till now Kevin MacDonald has been content working away behind the scenes at Aston Villa, responsible for the early tutelage of fledgling talents such as Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nathan Delfouneso and Marc Albrighton. During his successful period working as reserve-team manager at the club he has generated a reputation as a talented and forward-thinking coach by leading his side to three successive Premier League reserve finals.

Now, instead of maintaining his low profile with Villa's second-string and promising youngsters, MacDonald will be looking to the familiar faces of Agbonlahor and Delfouneso in the first-team dressing room at Villa Park when he takes charge for the opening Premier League fixture of the season against West Ham United on Saturday.

To those outside the club, MacDonald will be best remembered for his playing days at Liverpool in the 1980s. The combative midfielder moved to Anfield in November 1984 for £400,000 from Leicester City, who had spotted him playing for Caledonian in the Highland League. He never quite established himself as a first-team regular but played a part in Liverpool winning the Double in 1986 under Kenny Dalglish and was part of the starting XI for the 3-1 win over Everton in the FA Cup final. A broken leg later that year left him on the sidelines and he was offloaded to Coventry City in 1989.

This is not the first time he has been in caretaker charge of a club, as he performed a similar task at Leicester when Brian Little left in November 1994, ironically to go to Aston Villa. MacDonald has also worked as an assistant to former his Liverpool team-mate Steve Staunton during his time as Republic of Ireland manager between 2006 and 2007.

However, this experience is unlikely to be a great preparation for being asked at short notice to prepare a side for the start of a Premier League campaign. MacDonald will have to pick up the pieces from Martin O'Neill's shock departure on Monday and any hopes of putting his own stamp on the side will have been hit by the number of absent players as a result of the midweek internationals.

In the opposing dugout on Saturday will be Avram Grant, who had his own share of managerial travails last season at Portsmouth, and MacDonald could soon be yearning for the anonymity of the Bodymoor Heath training ground.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea