McCarthy surprise name on Villa shortlist to replace McLeish

Aston Villa have drawn up a shortlist of managerial candidates to replace Alex McLeish with the shock frontrunner for the job according to a SqueakyBumTime source.

Owner Randy Lerner is on the lookout for a new man to replace McLeish who led Villa to 16th in the Premier League gaining just 38 points – their worst total in 42-years.

The former Birmingham boss was heavily criticised by fans of the Midlands club for his defensive minded strategy and paid the ultimate price for a dismal season at Villa Park.

Sources indicate McCarthy is in pole position to land the role despite being dismissed by recently relegated Wolves in February after five and a half years in charge.

The 53-year-old is a surprise target for the American and chief executive Paul Faulkner although he is certain to be an unpopular appointment amongst the Villa faithful.

However he is well respected within the squad with Shay Given and Richard Dunne both playing under him for the Republic Ireland whilst his Molineux connections could bring the likes of Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher to the club.

His status as a free agent also appeals to the hierarchy who are keen to cut costs after paying off three managers in the six-years since Lerner bought the club from Doug Ellis.

Initially Wigan boss Martinez was the man Lerner and Faulkner earmarked to take over despite him spurning their advances last summer as they sought a replacement for Gerard Houllier

Their plans were scuppered by Liverpool who ant the Spaniard to replace Kenny Dalglish in the Anfield dugout after he was sacked by owners Fenway Sports Group yesterday.

Lerner also fancied Norwich manager Paul Lambert, another under consideration to replace Houllier before McLeish was appointed.

Lambert has worked wonders at Carrow Road since arriving from Colchester in 2009 guiding them from League One to the top-flight courtesy of back-t0-back promotions.

But with the Canaries finishing above Villa in the table and the 42-year-old Scot happy in East Anglia it’s likely that Lerner would have seen any approach for his services rebuffed.

Interviews for the position have yet to commence but