Following a run of five straight defeats, Aston Villa acted decisively and sacked Dean Smith as their manager over the weekend.


Smith earned Villa promotion to the Premier League and kept them in the top division before securing an eleventh place finish last season.



But an atrocious run of form this term, coupled with the 18 defeats Aston Villa have recorded in 2021, mean the hierarchy decided to move him and now are looking at managerial candidates.


They have already compiled a shortlist of targets and it has been claimed that they are even prepared to pay a fee to wriggle a candidate out of his existing contract.



Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is believed to be one of the top contenders and he has a prior relationship with Villa chief executive Christian Purslow from his Liverpool days.


Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl, Brentford’s Thomas Frank are also admired at Villa Park.



Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand is also said to be one of the candidates who has attracted Villa’s interest.


The club are prepared to conduct interviews over the next few days and are hopeful of having someone in place before the end of the international break.