Craig Shakespeare joins Aston Villa coaching staff
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Watford assistant manager Craig Shakespeare looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield on December 14, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Aston Villa have today announced the appointment of Craig Shakespeare as their new Assistant Head Coach.

This makes Shakespeare the third person to currently hold that title at Villa Park, joining Richard O’Kelly and John Terry. The announcement sparked rumours of an imminent departure for Terry amid links with the vacant manager’s job at Bournemouth. However, it is understood that the former England captain will be staying at Villa Park.

A wealth of experience

Shakespeare has racked up over 20 years of experience as a coach, including years of Premier League experience Villa’s coaching staff has missed.

The 56-year-old first joined West Bromwich Albion as a youth coach and later reserve team manager, also serving as Nigel Pearson’s assistant during his four-week spell as caretaker manager. Shakespeare later followed his former Sheffield Wednesday teammate to Leicester City to become his assistant.

Shakespeare continued to follow Pearson to his short-lived stint at Hull City as well as his later return to Leicester. The assistant broke from Pearson for the first time following his controversial dismissal and the arrival of Claudio Ranieri in 2015. Shakespeare chose to stay on as the Tinkerman’s assistant for the 2015-16 season, in which Leicester romped to a shock league title. The coach also had a brief spell as Sam Allardyce’s assistant as England manager before controversially replacing Ranieri as Leicester boss in 2017.

He was appointed as caretaker in March and steered Leicester away from the drop zone and past Sevilla in the Champions League before being given the job permanently in June. However, it wasn’t to be and he was dismissed in October. Shakespeare then chose to follow Sam Allardyce to Everton in December 2017 for his short spell at Goodison Park.

Shakespeare was last seen as Nigel Pearson’s assistant at Watford before the pair were dismissed two games before the end of the season in July 2020, shortly before the Hornets were relegated.

A local boy

A major reason behind Shakespeare’s appointment is his relationship to the area and to Dean Smith.

Shakespeare grew up as an Aston Villa fan, recounting the story of him ending the night sleeping in his brother-in-law’s car after Villa’s First Division title win in 1981. He’s also got a local connection, beginning his playing career with Villa’s near neighbours Walsall in 1981. He spent eight years with the Saddlers, the last year spent playing with the current Villa boss. The two developed a long-standing friendship and remain firm friends to this day. Smith considered bringing Shakespeare to the club earlier, but he went to Watford before he could make a move.