Paul Merson reacts to Roberto di Matteo to Aston Villa claims

Paul Merson has responded to suggestions linking Roberto di Matteo to Aston Villa.

Paul Merson has insisted whoever lands the Aston Villa job must be a big character to turn the club's fortunes around.

Speaking on the SkySports Fantasy Football podcast, Merson gave his reaction to reports Roberto di Matteo could be the club's next manager.

Merson said that Di Matteo would not be his first choice, but he would not necessarily be upset if he was appointed.

He said: "I want Pearson or McCarthy. I'm not saying I wouldn't be happy, but you need someone in there who is very strong.

"At the moment the dressing room is toxic and they need whoever goes in there to sort some players out."

Fortunately Di Matteo has experience doing just that. He took over at Chelsea after a player revolt led to Andre Villas-Boas demise in 2012, and he settled the dressing room and led them to go on and win the Champions League.

While he was dismissed by the impatient Roman Abramovich months later, experience dealing with egos at the very top level will stand him in good stead, and he will be able to command instant respect as a player.

SkySports report Di Matteo is the favourite for the Villa job, and has held initial talks with the club's new owner Dr Tony Xia.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch