[ENGLAND] Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill, one of the English Premier League's most high-profile managers, quit just five days before the start of the new season. A dozen coaches -- including U.S. boss Bob Bradley -- were mentioned as possibilities to replace O'Neill.
O'Neill's move is no surprise, though his timing, on the eve of EPL opening weekend, is a shock.
The former Northern Ireland international's departure comes as Villa is about to finalize the transfer of James Milner to Manchester City.
O'Neill has been known to be concerned about the commitment of Villa's popular American owner, Randy Lerner, to compete on the English transfer market. Lerner lost $70 million last year.
Villa sold captain Gareth Barry to Man. City before the start of last season. Besides Milner, Villa is believed to have offered Ashley Young for sale.
Bradley was immediately installed as the favorite to replace O'Neill, though other coaches -- Alan Curbishley and Martin Jol -- were considered better possibilities.
The U.S. connection at Villa also includes three Americans on the first team: goalie Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan and defender Eric Lichaj.