Ex-Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Brom striker favourite for EFL position after shock departure

Kevin Phillips left his role with non-league side South Shields over the weekend in a surprise departure after guiding the club to promotion

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Kevin Phillips has emerged as the favourite to become the next manager of League Two Walsall, just days after his shock departure from non-league side South Shields.

During his 15-month stint in charge in the north east, the ex-Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Brom striker won the Northern Premier League Premier Division title and led South Shields into the first round of the FA Cup.

On Saturday evening, South Shields announced they had parted ways with Phillips by mutual consent, just seven days on from the club’s title celebrations.

Phillips is now the odds-on favourite to take over at Walsall, who sacked manager Michael Flynn last week after a 3-0 defeat at Harrogate Town.

Walsall are 17th in League Two with little to play for in their remaining two games as they sit 12 points above the bottom two and 21 points adrift of the top seven.

Phillips spent a season at Aston Villa between 2005 and 2006 before joining West Brom for two years from 2006-2008. He remained close by with his next move as he signed for Birmingham City in 2008 where he remained until 2011.

The now 49-year-old is best known for his time with Sunderland, where he made over 200 appearances and scored over 100 goals between 1997 and 2003.

“I feel that this is the right time for me to depart, for a number of reasons,” he explained of his reasons for leaving South Shields.

“To be manager of South Shields has been an amazing experience and I’m very grateful for everything Geoff has done during my time at the club. I’ve given my heart and soul to this club and I’m disappointed to leave, but I’ve been in football a long time and I know things can change very quickly.

“There are lots of different factors behind this mutual decision, but I’d like to place on record my thanks to everyone connected to the club and I wish whoever comes in next all the success in the world. I was brought here to do a job and I did it, and although I’d have loved to have taken it further, circumstances have changed and I’ll be supporting the club in the next phase of its journey from afar.”

South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson said: “This has been a very difficult decision to come to, particularly given the successful season we have just enjoyed.

“We are hugely grateful to Kevin for his work over the last 15 months and the role he has played in delivering a promotion we have been striving for since 2018. He will always hold a special place in our history and we wish him nothing but success in his career.

“I can reassure supporters that our ambition remains strong and, if our fans and sponsors continue to back us in the way they have this season, we are confident in our ability to be extremely competitive in National League North next season.

“It is vital that we remain realistic when it comes to setting budgets and utilising the best talents which are produced by our Academy, though, and that will be an important part of our strategy moving forward.”