Next Aston Villa manager: David Moyes and Nigel Pearson in frame
Villa's prospective new owners have drawn up a four-man shortlist as they seek the right manager to lead the club's revival.
Bookies favourite Roberto Di Matteo is one of the candidates, though it is understood the former Baggies head coach is not the No.1 target of Dr Tony Xia and his advisors.
Former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson is also among those in the frame, along with ex-Manchester United manager David Moyes, while it is understood Burnley boss Sean Dyche is not under consideration.
Xia, who has agreed to buy the club from Randy Lerner, claims to have already held talks with both Pearson and Di Matteo. The latter has been an odds-on favourite with bookmakers for more than a week and initially thought to be the preferred choice of Villa's new owner.
That decision now seems far less clear-cut, however, with Villa's current chairman, Steve Hollis, set to make the case for Pearson when consultations with the prospective owners continue next week.
Pearson was the considered the best candidate by Hollis and Brian Little, who led the club's managerial hunt before the sale to Xia and the Recon Group was agreed.
Xia, who could end up paying more than £100million for Villa if they return to the Premier League, admitted earlier this week that finding the right manager was crucial to any success.
The Beijing-based businessman has claimed the new man will be handed up to £50million in order to revamp Villa's squad.
"The most critical thing now is to get the right manager," he said. "We need a really good coach who knows how to play in the Championship.
"It's even harder than the Premier League. We need to figure out how to reorganise the team."
Villa have meanwhile amended a statement on their official website, after it yesterday emerged the Recon Group has a controlling stake in just one listed company - and not five, as originally stated.
According to a report in the Financial Times, a Recon spokesman blamed a "miscommunication" for the error, which appeared in a press release on Villa's official website announcing the club's sale.
The spokesman said: "The acquisition deals for the remaining four companies are still being finalised and should come out soon."
Xia's deal to buy Villa is awaiting ratification by the Football League and Premier League, a process which is expected to take between two and three weeks.
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