Dick Taylor July 1964 - May 1967

Dick Taylor had been at Villa Park for nearly six years when he was offered the managers job in 1964. A native of the Black Country, he was a good example of the 'old-fashioned' professional centre-half, dedicated, hard-working and with a pragmatic approach to the game's challenges.

An avuncular character, Taylor had a brief association with Wolves before serving Grimsby Town for 13 seasons, playing over 200 matches before, during and immediately after World War Two.

He then played a further 220 games for Scunthorpe (having initially joined the Irons before they entered the League) retiring in 1954 to become chief trainer-coach at the Old Show Ground.

In 1956, he linked up with Joe Mercer at Bramall Lane and was brought to Villa Park as Mercer's assistant in 1958, taking over as manager when Mercer left in 1964.

No one worked harder than Dick Taylor who was fated to become the first of three successive managers who would see the club down from the First Division to the Third in six seasons.

To his credit Taylor at least managed to keep Villa in the top division until 1967 but then he was sacked, after spending upwards of £140,000 on new players, and selling talent worth £171,000, most of that accruing from the transfer of Tony Hateley to Chelsea.

Taylor, who was born at Wolverhampton on 9 April 1918, became a successful businessman after leaving Villa and in 1988 was still running his sports shop at Witton, 600 yards from Villa Park.

Tommy Cummings July 1967 - November 1968

Tommy Cummings, born at Sunderland on 12 December, gave outstanding service to Burnley, appearing in 432 First Division games, as a solid centre-half.

He played for the Football League XI, gained three England 'B' caps and only the brilliance of Billy Wright denied him a full cap.

He met early success as a manager, steering Mansfield Town to promotion from Division Four in 1963, but his association with Villa was short-lived.

Almost immediately, he spent £55,000 on three new players but failed in his efforts to attract star names to the club.

Villa struggled under his leadership and Cummings was sacked in November 1968, after 16 months in office.

After a spell out of football he coached abroad and scouted for several clubs including Burnley and Sunderland.

Tommy Docherty December 1968 - January 1970

Tommy Docherty, one of the game's most controversial characters, was a stocky, powerful wing-half who won 25 caps for Scotland. He appeared in more than 400 League games for Celtic, Preston, Arsenal and Chelsea, and won a Second Division Championship medal and an FA Cup runners-up medal with Preston in 1951 and 1954 respectively.

Born in Glasgow on24 August 1928, Docherty was destined to become a national figure when he moved into football management.

Several sensational moves from club to club, a courtroom drama which saw him admit to perjury, and dismissal as manager of Manchester United following an announcement that he was having an affair with the wife of Laurie Brown, the United's physiotherapist, all kept 'The Doc' in the headlines.

He did achieve success as a manager though - but not with Villa. He guided Chelsea to promotion from Division Two in 1963, to a League Cup Final triumph in 1965 and to the FA Cup Final in 1967.

He saw Manchester United reach the 1976 FA Cup Final and held aloft that same trophy the very next season when United beat Liverpool 2-1.

For Villa, 'The Doc' signed the Rioch brothers from Luton in a combined £100,000 deal - easily his best transaction for the club - but alas, he could not stem the tide as the team slipped to the foot of the Second Division, and it was no real surprise when he was sacked in January 1970, when Villa were entrenched at the foot of the table with only 18 points out of a possible 54.

Immediately prior to taking the Villa job, Docherty had served 28 days as a manager of Queen's Park Rangers - one of the shortest reigns on record for a British team manager.

His other managerial jobs included another spell at QPR as well as Rotherham United, FC Oporto, Hull City (assistant to Terry Neill), Derby County, Sydney Olympic (Australia), Preston, Wolves, and, in 1987-8, Altrincham Town. In between all that, Docherty found time to manage Scotland, a post he gave up to take the Manchester United job.