Bradley hints he’s ready to replace O’Neill at Villa

USA coach Bob Bradley was installed as favourite to become Aston Villa’s new manager last night after admitting his desire to coach in Europe.

Bradley has been linked with a move to Villa Park after Martin O’Neill stepped down as boss on Monday amid reports of a falling out with owner Randy Lerner over the club’s transfer policy.

Lerner is now in the process of drawing up a list of names to take over the helm with sources indicating he would like a successor to O’Neill in place before Villa’s second Premier League clash of the new campaign, at Newcastle, on 22 August.

It has been suggested that Lerner may feel happier with a fellow American in Bradley alongside him, but he faces competition from former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is also believed to be keen on a return to the Premier League.

Bradley, inset, is currently preparing for USA’s friendly against Brazil this week, but says he is keeping his options open with his current contract expiring at the end of the year.

“I have said over and over as well that I am always excited about new and different challenges,” he said. “Certainly coaching in Europe at some point is something that I would love to do.”

Sources close to Eriksson, meanwhile, say the Swede would welcome the chance of working in England again after enjoying a one-year spell in charge of Manchester City in 2008.

A spokesman said: “Of course, Sven would be interested in this job. He has always said that he would like to go back into the Premier League. It is a big target for him.”
His representative Athole Still, however, says there had been no contact from Lerner.

“Sven gets associated with a lot of big jobs but, as we speak, there has been no contact from Aston Villa.”

O’Neill walked out of his four-year reign at Villa Park after reportedly losing patience of the club’s sell-to-buy policy and, in particular, his frustration at the imminent exit of James Milner to Manchester City.

But Lerner’s right-hand man, General Charles Krulak, hit out at the Ulsterman’s decision to quit last night, saying he was given full financial backing from the owner during his tenure. “I can promise everyone that he knew and understood the long-range plans for the club and bought into them,” Krulak said.

“He knew full well about the need to bring wages in line with revenue – the same as every Premiership club. He was absolutely supported by the owner during his time with the club. All one needs to do is look at the money spent.

“The reality is that the wage-to-revenue issue was not addressed and Martin apparently was unwilling to help address it. He quit.”