Back to back promotions across two countries in his first twenty-four months of management, that is quite the achievement.
Larry would be first to admit that It wasn’t all his own work that had got him where he was. His friend Terry Butcher had helped guide him through his early years, first as a player-manager and latterly due to a serious injury a manager in his own right.
The side he had created at Motherwell was a far cry from what he picked up 12 months ago. It was now full of pace and creativity instead of bitterness and unhappiness. The training ground was currently undergoing a radical upgrade and work had already begun on improving his first-team squad.
A raft of players, mainly youth prospects had been let go from Fir Park but on the incoming side of it, Fredericks had gone for quality over quantity of players. Dorian Grange (GK) from Lyon (Free), Jamie Yayi Mpie (SC) from Inter Milan (Loan) and Mateusz Zyro (CB) from Legia (Loan) all arrived in North Lanarkshire.
Larry also wanted experience, back in the top flight this young team would need a couple of older heads so Stephen Dawson (MC – £60k) and Charlie Adam (MC – Free) joined up for the new campaign.
The summer had seen Brendan Rogers depart Parkhead for Inter Milan and the new man at Rangers was former Hearts boss Robbie Nielsen. Fredericks himself had been linked with the roll at Ibrox but nothing ever materialised.
Preseason was a great opportunity for the new lads to bed in. The Portuguese boys were still on the books and between them scored 14 goals in the 7 friendly/Bet Fred group games that Motherwell played in.
It was all good preparation for an opening week of the season which saw ‘The Steelmen’ entertain Partick Thistle.
After a year away from the Scottish Premier League it would be hard to tell from just one game at what level Motherwell would be returning at.
At halftime they were 0-1 down, they were playing well but the final ball had just been lacking a little composure. Fir Park seemed a little deflated but the next 45 minutes would get them off their seats.
What a second half, incredible. Young striker Duk proved to be the man of the moment, netting 4 times to take the game 5-3. Motherwell were back with a bang.
They took to the Premier League like they had never been away and apart from the occasional slip-up Motherwell were a game for anyone.
It’s the 3rd of December 2019 and Larry Fredericks is sat in the car park at Scotch Corner services. Two days previous Motherwell had lost in the Betfred Cup Final to a very strong Celtic side. It was after that game that all this began.
He hadn’t told Terry he was coming here, he needed to do this on his own. A long black limousine pulled into the car park and Larry climbed out of his car and got into the back seat of the elongated vehicle.
Dr Tony Xia reached out a hand and beckoned Larry to shake it. The Aston Villa Chairman had opened a line of dialogue a few days previous through a third party and now here they were, face to face.
Xia seemed to be pretty straightforward, his club was haemorrhaging money and was only out of the Championship relegation places on goal difference. He had seen the job Fredericks had performed on limited resources at Motherwell and was now offering Larry the keys to the door of Villa Park.
After around 90 minutes Larry let himself out of the limo and headed back to his car. Dr Xia had offered him £6500 a week, which to put in perspective was £5600 a more than he was currently getting.
He had still said No, he was tempted but he needed reassurances about players being sold and money for transfers that the Villa supremo didn’t agree to.
Larry drove back north and let his mind wander. Had he made the right call, would he ever get an opportunity like that again? He needed to talk it out so headed for Butchers place.
The strapping shape of Butcher answered the door and led him through the house into his kitchen diner where there, sat at the table, was Dr Tony Xia.
The Dr said he wouldn’t take no for an answer and that he would agree to all of Larry’s requests including firing their current Director of Football and appointing Terry along with him. He also raised the wage offer to ten times Larry’s current salary.
The next day Larry said goodbye to a shocked squad at Motherwell and made the long journey down to the Midlands to begin the next chapter of his career.
He couldn’t have been any prouder of the job he had done at Motherwell, Promotion, A cup win and now they had a squad capable of competing towards the top of the Scottish Premiership. He also left them with just under £4 million pounds in the bank and plenty of room to manouvre in the wage department.
Aston Villa from the outside needed a complete rebuild form the ground up. With the team staring at a relegation battle, he would need to hit the ground running to make an early impression and that could be harder than he hoped.