Ron Saunders dead: Former Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom manager dies, aged 87

Saunders steered Villa to promotion from the Second Division and became the first manager to reach the League Cup final three consecutive times with three different clubs

Jack de Menezes
Sunday 08 December 2019 14:23

Former Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders has died, aged 87.

The former manager passed away around 3pm on Saturday afternoon, with passing announced by the club hours later.

One of Villa’s greatest ever managers, Saunders took the club to promotion from the Second Division in 1975, winning the League Cup along the way in what proved a successful first season at Villa Park, and won the competition for a second time two years later during an eight-year spell in charge of the club.

The no-nonsense disciplinarian's crowning glory came in the 1980/81 season though when his Villa side clinched their first First Division league title in 71 years, and despite leaving halfway through the following season when the club attempted to alter his contract, it was the bulk of his side that went on to win Villa's maiden European Cup.

Having enjoyed a playing career between 1951 and 1967 that saw him make more than 230 appearances for Portsmouth as well as representing Everton, Watford and Charlton Athletic, Saunders made his managerial bow with Yeovil Town and then Oxford United, before winning the Second Division with Norwich in 1972.

Having reached the League Cup final only to lose to Spurs, Saunders went on to join Manchester City and managed to achieve the same feat in reaching the final, only to come unstuck against Wolves.

However, their poor league form so him sacked and resulted in a move to Villa, where he forged a successful relationship that saw him write his name in the club’s history with league and cup success.

Villa issued a statement on Saturday evening to announce the tragic news, describing Saunders as “one of the club’s greatest ever managers”.

The statement read: "It is the sad duty of Aston Villa Football Club to announce that our former manager, Ron Saunders, has passed away at the age of 87.

“He died earlier today, Saturday 7 December, at 3pm and his family have asked for their privacy to be respected at such a difficult time.

Former Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders passed away on Saturday,m aged 87

“Widely regarded as one of the club’s greatest ever managers, he guided Villa to promotion in his first season in charge, lifted two League Cups and steered the club to a league championship in 1980/81.

“Against Leicester City tomorrow afternoon, the players will wear black armbands and, as a mark of respect, we will be holding a period of applause to mark his outstanding contribution to Aston Villa.”

After leaving Villa, Saunders took up roles with their main rivals in Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, before retiring from management in 1987.

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