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From the Archives: The managers who faced us and then bossed us!

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From the Archives: The managers who faced us and then bossed us!


Paul Lambert this summer became Villa's 24th manager - and the 16th to have played AGAINST us.

The new boss lined up for St Mirren in a 1988 pre-season friendly, helping the Scottish team to a 1-0 win over Graham Taylor's men.

Even so, he is bottom of the 'bosses who faced us' table, along with Eric Houghton, Alex Massie, Tony Barton and Graham Turner, who also faced Villa on just one occasion.

The list is headed by David O'Leary, who made 32 appearances against the boys in claret and blue.

Thirty of those games were for Arsenal, including the famous game at Highbury in May 1981, when Villa were crowned champions.

O'Leary also has the distinction of being the only Villa manager to have played against us in the Premier League, for Arsenal and Leeds respectively.

There was one occasion when two future Villa bosses lined up against us.

In March 1964, the scheduled First Division match against Manchester United was postponed because they were playing West Ham in an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough.

Portsmouth's league game was also called off that day - because Swansea Town were at Villa Park for the other semi-final against Preston - so a friendly was arranged at Fratton Park.

Very few people witnessed what was to prove a historic match.

The Pompey line-up included both Ron Saunders, who would guide Villa to the title in 1981, and Tony Barton, the man in charge of the European Cup-winning team 12 months later.

Portsmouth won 2-1 in dreadful conditions.

That was Saunders's third game against Villa, although the other two were less successful.

Although he scored in an early season midweek game at Fratton Park in 1959, Villa won 2-1 - and then completed the double with a 5-2 romp at Villa Park the following Monday.

The Villa team in both those games included Vic Crowe - who Saunders would succeed as manager in 1974.

Another Ron - Atkinson - was at Villa Park as a youth player before joining non-league club Headington United.

By 1968, Headington had become Oxford United, Atkinson helping them gain entry to the Football League and promotion to the old Second Division.

The first of his four games against Villa wasn't a happy one, though.

His return to Villa Park resulted in a 2-0 home win, courtesy of goals from Barrie Hole and Brian Godfrey.

That Villa team was managed by Tommy Cummings, who is second in our 'bosses who faced us' table with 24 games, all of them for Burnley.

The dependable centre-back enjoyed 11 league victories at Villa's expense, although he and his team-mates were clearly not up for the cup.

He was on the losing side in FA Cup ties in 1951 and 1959 and also played in all three games as Villa overcame the clarets in the 1961 League Cup semi-final.

The charismatic Tommy Docherty experienced a turbulent 13 months as Villa manager but maybe he should have seen what was coming.

Although he stands third in the list with 18 games - 14 for Preston, three for Arsenal and one for Celtic in a friendly, The Doc finished on the winning side only three times.

His success in charge at Villa Park was also limited and his only League Cup win was 2-1 at Chester in August 1969 - when the home team included Graham Turner, Villa's manager from 1984 to 1986.

Fourth-placed Joe Mercer, who led us to glory in the inaugural League Cup competition, was an opponent on 17 occasions, 12 for Arsenal and five for Everton.

But one of his games for the Toffees was expunged from the records.

He was in their line-up on August 28, 1939 for Villa's final home game before football was suspended because of World War II.

'Bosses Who Faced Us' Table

David O'Leary - 32
Tommy Cummings - 24
Tommy Docherty - 18
Joe Mercer - 17
Martin O'Neill - 16
John Gregory - 13
George Martin - 6
Jimmy McMullan - 6
Ron Atkinson - 6
Ron Saunders - 3
Jimmy Hogan - 2
Eric Houghton - 1
Alex Massie - 1
Tony Barton - 1
Graham Turner - 1
Paul Lambert - 1

For and Against

Three Villa managers - Alex Massie, Eric Houghton and John Gregory - had the distinction of playing both for and against Villa.

Massie and Houghton made only appearance for opponents and in Houghton's case it was for RAF Bridgnorth during World War II, when he was a Villa player but serving as a corporal.

He scored, too, although Villa won 3-1.

Gregory, though, amassed 13 appearances for Brighton, QPR and Derby against Villa after leaving us - and was also on target three times.

The only other managers to have scored against Villa are Martin O'Neill [2], George Martin and Ron Saunders.

Make sure you back the boys against Tottenham.


AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 13th December 2012
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