By Graham Hill
WHEN Kevin MacDonald briefly stepped into the manager’s hot seat nine years ago, he had a saying: ‘Self praise is no praise’.
It was meant as a reaction to any coach with an inflated ego who needed little invitation to push themselves publicly.
And that was seen as one of MacDonald’s faults.
Whenever the chance to be a manager came along, he did not push himself.
His time at Villa, in the public eye at least, was understated.
The Scot had a chance to take on the job of Villa manager when Martin O’Neill quit after a dispute over cash with former owner Randy Lerner.
At a time when the American did not know who to turn to after O’Neill’s departure leading up to the 2010-11 season, MacDonald was in pole position.
But his indecision probably cost him and it Gerard Houllier who got the job in a misguided appointment considering the Frenchman’s well documented health problems.
In his last press conference before handing over the reins, MacDonald thanked the media for the positive treatment of his short time in charge.
It was one of three spells as a caretaker boss for the ex-Liverpool and Coventry midfielder
All of this seems to be at odds with what emerged about the 58-year-old’s work with the club’s younger players.
MacDonald left his position as head of football development on Tuesday after an eight-month enquiry.
He was a reserve and youth team coach during two spells over a 25-year period and had already been re-allocated to non-player duties in the wake of allegations made last year by ex-Villa midfielder Gareth Farrelly.
A Villa statement read: “Aston Villa wishes to apologise to all former players who were affected by behaviour which would not be tolerated by the club today.”
Farrelly, who was with Villa between 1992 and 1997, described MacDonald’s regime as a ‘culture of physical and verbal bullying’.
MacDonald is a man who came up through the school of hard knocks at places such as Anfield when football culture was a lot different to nowadays.
Back then, it was accepted that coaches spoke to players in a certain way – we can safely say they did not stand on ceremony.
For MacDonald, this was clearly the way it was done. And the complaints stretch back over almost three decades.
The modern game does not tolerate bullying, it is common to hear that the ‘throwing tea cups again the wall’ mentality is long gone. But it is something that would have been ingrained into MacDonald – and some of the language used towards players does not look good in the cold light of day.