Aston Villa keen on Sporting’s Amorim with Pochettino looking out of reach | Aston Villa

Aston Villa are eyeing an ambitious move for Sporting head coach Rúben Amorim after receiving some encouragement from Mauricio Pochettino about replacing Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard was sacked after less than a year in charge and the club’s hierarchy will accelerate talks with candidates in the coming days. Gerrard was relieved of his duties shortly after one embarrassing 3-0 loss against Fulham but traveled back to Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on the team bus and said goodbye to his players early on Friday.

Amorim has established a good reputation in Europe after leading Sporting to his first Portuguese title in 19 years last season and his side will be well placed to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League if they win against Tottenham on Wednesday.

Sporting paid €15m to land Amorim from Braga and inserted a €30m release clause in the four-year contract he signed in 2020, but Villa are believed to be undeterred by the prospect of having to pay hefty compensation. It is unclear how enthusiastic Amorim would be about the prospect of taking over at Villa despite the big plans from billionaire owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris. When asked about the links on Friday, the 37-year-old said: “I am Sporting’s coach and there is nothing to say about the matter.”

Villa’s owners, together with CEO Christian Purslow and sporting director Johan Lange, have compiled a shortlist that includes Amorim. They plan to whittle down their options over the next 48 hours with a view to appointing Gerrard’s replacement before next weekend’s game at Newcastle. Sawiris and Purslow were at Fulham on Thursday and given the result, the performances and the reaction from the supporters, who taunted Gerrard with a series of humiliating chants, the manager’s position was deemed untenable. Gerrard is believed to have known his fate at full-time.

Pochettino was Villa’s primary target but is believed to be resisting a job that would allow him to continue to perform at the elite level after leaving Paris Saint-Germain. Villa had hoped they could tempt Pochettino with a lucrative contract but are believed to have been turned down after making an informal inquiry several weeks ago. Villa could offer a large financial package to Amorim, who earns around €3m (£2.6m) net per year, but it is unclear how willing he would be to sign up for a relegation battle. Pochettino has previously been courted by Manchester United and Real Madrid and is in no rush to return to management.

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino, pictured here with PSG in March, is believed to have rejected an initial inquiry from Aston Villa a week ago. Photography: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The Brentford head coach Thomas Frank has admirers within the Villa hierarchy, particularly Lange, who he worked with in Denmark at Lyngby, but feels he has “unfinished business” at the west London club, who are 10th, and open to sign a new contract. Frank is one of the lowest paid managers in the league but the club are keen to reward him for a hugely impressive 12 months in the Premier League and are very confident of keeping him. Villa, who are one place above the relegation zone, host Brentford on Sunday.

Gerrard won four of his first six games but struggled to win over the supporters. A streak of eight wins from 31 games this calendar year sparked concern at board level and anger among fans. Villa’s owners have spent around £400m on the team since buying the club in 2018 but have seen no return. Gerrard was unfortunate that Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara, summer signings considered coups and players he hoped would push the team into the top half, suffered long-term injuries in the opening weeks but the permanent signing of Philippe Coutinho, who Gerrard played with at Liverpool, has struck back. Emiliano Buendía, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey, the trio of players signed to replace Jack Grealish after his £100m move to Manchester City, which preceded Gerrard’s arrival from Rangers, have been underwhelmed.

Villa first-team coach Aaron Danks has been placed in interim charge, after the rest of Gerrard’s staff, including his assistants Gary McAllister and Neil Critchley, were also sacked. Born in Birmingham, Danks worked as an assistant to Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht and with the England youth team.

Villa had hoped Gerrard, who signed a three-and-a-half-year contract last November, would return Villa to European competition but Purslow said the club must act after assessing “results and performances over the calendar year”. He added that the “goal of continuous improvement” had not been achieved.

Jürgen Klopp said he had exchanged messages with the former Liverpool captain. “He will be back, 100%,” said the Liverpool manager. “But now I hope he takes some time as well because since he finished his [playing] career he works pretty much all the time so maybe can use it a bit for himself to recharge.”

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