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Lerner stakes his Villa reputation on McLeish

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Phil McNulty | 15:07 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

In a moment that will define his Aston Villa reign, Randy Lerner has ignored the protests and turned back a tidal wave of discontent to appoint Alex McLeish as the club's new manager.

Lerner's gamble on the man who took fiercest rivals Birmingham City into the Championship in May - and brought Villa supporters on to the streets in protest at his impending move to Villa Park - will not come to rest on the middle ground.

If McLeish turns out to be a success, his appointment will be regarded as an inspirational move by an owner willing to fly in the face of public opinion. If the Scot is a failure, it is almost impossible to see how Lerner can retain the faith of Villa's fans.

Alex McLeish, 52, has signed a three-year contract at Villa Park

Lerner and McLeish have shown plenty of bravery by opting to join forces - and they will need to demonstrate the courage of their convictions again now.

After sidestepping ex-England head coach Steve McClaren amid supporter unrest, Lerner went for what was almost the 'nuclear' option in footballing terms by turning his attention to McLeish, who brought Birmingham their first major trophy in 47 years with February's surprise 2-1 Carling Cup final win over Arsenal at Wembley.

Former Rangers boss McLeish is used to pressure but he will need to show the strength of character he demonstrated at Ibrox if he is to win over the sceptics. And there are plenty out there with a Facebook group "Aston Villa Supporters - We don't want Alex McLeish" attracting almost 18,000 names.

Crossing the managerial divide is a hazardous occupation, as George Graham knows.

He won two league titles at Arsenal, as well two League Cups, the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup before taking over at north London rivals Tottenham in October 1998 after a two-year spell in charge of Leeds.

Graham guided Spurs to success in the Worthington Cup at Wembley in 1999 but was never fully accepted at White Hart Lane because of his connection with the Gunners and was eventually sacked in March 2001 despite taking Tottenham to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Graham knows the obstacles McLeish faces - as well as the battles he must win - and believes a manager in such a diplomatically difficult position must never waver from his trusted principles if he is to overcome disaffected supporters.

"I think Alex McLeish will cope with it very well," Graham said. "The fans have got to realise that managers are not fans of clubs. They are doing a job in a professional manner and move around the profession to improve themselves and try to achieve their ambitions.

"I think Alex sees an opportunity at Aston Villa. It looks to me as though he sees them as a club to give him that platform for success.

"I think a good start to next season will obviously help but there are fans you will never win over. I had that at Spurs because of my own background and successes at Arsenal. We won the League Cup at Wembley in 1999 and that kept them quiet for a year. But I knew I had to keep them happy every year.

"There are some Villa supporters he will never win over because he has come from Birmingham but I think McLeish will be a big success. He handled his managerial appointment in Scotland very well. He knows you are going to get severe criticism up there and he dealt with that perfectly well. We are talking about an experienced and strong character here."

Graham added: "Yes, Birmingham were relegated but he also brought them their first success in 47 years and got them back up to the Premier League when they were relegated [previously in 2008]. He should just go into Villa Park and be himself, not try to change to please people who do not approve of his appointment.

"From what I know of Alex McLeish, he is a very good manager and this is a very good appointment, which is all that should matter."

McLeish knows he has to win over the Aston Villa fans

Jonathan Fear, a respected spokesman for Villa fans and editor of the Vital Villa website, described the idea of McLeish's appointment as "an impossibility" when it was first floated.

After McLeish was confirmed as manager on Friday morning, Fear told BBC Sport: "I am actually relieved that it's done and we are talking about fact not rumour. I'm still amazed they've done it, though.

"Alex McLeish must be a very strong man to take this on but the lack of expectation may even help him. He is damaged goods to an extent because of Birmingham's relegation, so he has a reputation to rebuild. He will be hungry and he knows he has got to win the fans over.

"Let's face it, managers we thought were the bee's knees haven't brought us success, so you never know. Maybe a manager who has come with this sort of build-up might work out.

Fear said that McLeish can begin winning fans over by ensuring winger Stewart Downing stays at the club following reports he will leave.

Lerner will also be expected to support his new manager in the transfer market.

"He will be determined to back McLeish because this is an era-defining moment for him and chief executive Paul Faulkner," Fear said. "They will know they cannot afford to have got this appointment wrong."

Fear added: "Some people have said I am changing my position but I support the club not the manager. I have likened Villa to a nagging wife - you sometimes wish you could walk away but you know you can't and you never will.

"I'm gutted for the fans who feel they can't come back to Villa now but it is done, it's a fact and we have to look forwards."

Lerner and McLeish will hope such sentiments are shared by the majority who occupy Villa Park on a regular basis.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This is a very bad move on all fronts. McLeish will have to prove himself from day 1. Having just bought players at b'ham then walking out is beond disloyal but to then go to you biggerst rivals as well!!!!If it all goes wrong he will be out of the door by xmas and villa will be in serious danger of going down.
    Bad move!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Villa fan in peace - McLeish is a good manager, solid at the back and shows attacking tendencies when he needs to. Not a fan of him being brought in from the Blue half of Birmingham, but if he gets the job done then he should be accepted by the majority of Villa supporters.

    Good luck to him, but he may well be judged before the season has even started - retaining key personnel and shoring up where needed is paramount.

  • Comment number 3.

    I dare say yet another case of EPIC PHAIL MCNULTY

  • Comment number 4.

    Guess we have to back him now, but really don't see the logic in his appointment. Villa are a mid table club who havn't been relegated in the Premier League era. Mcleish has been relegated twice in 3 seasons in the Premier League with- certainly last season with wigan and possibly Wolves- a team that with players and funds underacheived. At 52 and with 15 seasons ander his belt he can't quote inexperoence as the fault and that he will have learned from mistakes etc. From this what does the manage give you in the way of success relative to the club he is a poor appointment.
    If the Lerner sees past the managers success record and looks at what he can give villa in other areas the decision gets more strange. Critisised for being the most defensive manager with the lowest scoring record last season this doesn't give hope of free flowing football to compensate for potential less success
    Oh and have I mentioned that hes joining from Blues who Villa fans have a vitriolic hatred of...?

  • Comment number 5.

    If I was a Villa fan, the thing that would worry me most is that AM got a middling team relegated last season.

    I know that Villa have a bit more quality on the pitch but they are currently a middling team. Without Young, they would be even more so.

    I hope for the sake of Villa fans than this appointment goes similarly well to another unpopular appointment at Newcastle last season.
    Their fans didn't want Pardew but he's been doing pretty well.

  • Comment number 6.

    If Villa sell Young and/or Milner that would be fine for McLeish - he doesnt need those attacking 'flair' players.
    Just bring in Bowyer and Barton, they're free aren't they? and grind out some results for a bottom 5 finish!
    I feel sad for Villa fans...

  • Comment number 7.

    Downing not Milner (!)

  • Comment number 8.

    I can't see anything to get excited about here...

    I can't see AM signing any players that will add extra class.

    McLeish is stable and maybe that's all Lerner wants.

    Someone like Rijkaard might have been more exciting. That's what the fans want.

    I can see us signing a few hard working grafters over the summer and battling our way to maximum eighth in the league with no spark or entertainment.

    There are a lot of very poor teams in the premier league. VIlla has been punching just above them for the past five years (obviously a dip last year due to the mess but still a bit classier than most)

    I now feel we're destined to just be like Bolton, Stoke, Fulham, Everton, i.e. bland teams who won't go down but who won't exactly thrill anyone either. Also rans...

    But we won't get relegated... is that enough?

  • Comment number 9.

    As Samos said, his preferred (or only) style of play is very defensive and doesn't carry much goal scoring threat, maybe apart from set-pieces.
    That's why Brum could hardly score, even though they had a better squad than Wigan and Wolves (no offence intended W people)

    Wigan especially went for it near the end of the season and took risks in the hope of being repayed with PL survival. Brum just plodded on in the same fashion.
    Maybe that's why Robbo Martinez was higher up Villa's list than AM?

    Anyway, if you make this particular move, you have to make an impact and it must be a positive one.
    Is AM capable of letting his players express themselves? Does his formula allow for it?
    We shall see.

  • Comment number 10.

    He seems a decent bloke to be honest, stoic and solid without being in anyway flamboyant and hence his philosophy on how football is played reflects it. Seems honest whenever he comments after games as well.

    Be honest Villa fans, youve hardly set the World alight for years. You have the odd flirtatiion with top 4/5 every so often admitted, but he cant be worse than many of the other incumbents of the bosses hot seat that have been there over the decades.

    Villa always seem to be only ever a whisker away from 'crisis'. When this Lerner guy took over, O Neill came in and it seemed like it would change, yet here you are, all 'Doug Ellisesque' again. The central region only has Villa with the potential to be a really top Club yet as farback as ever i recall, the Club seems to love to prove that it cant break its own self imposed straitjacket. Strange as they have a largish ground, big support base and not much competition really.

  • Comment number 11.

    Another Bog on this, dont you think that everything has already been said. Why not a blog on the euro's.

  • Comment number 12.

    "If the Scot is a failure, it is almost impossible to see how Lerner can retain the faith of Villa's fans." Nah, circumstances change. Never say never. And he'd still the be owner.

  • Comment number 13.

    An utter shambles - no other way to describe it. It's just been one disaster after another.

    Firstly even before the season had ended it was blatantly clear that Houllier was never going to be able to continue on, so why we didnt give him the boot earlier i'll never know. This meant we missed out on managers such as Big Sam who had already gone to WHU. On top of that then we've had weeks of dithering waiting to see if lets face it, unrealistic targets such as Benitez and Ancelotti were available while at the same time distancing ourselves from Mark Hughes who would've been another solid appointment. After these weeks of dithering, and again missing out on a top manager with Martin Jol moving to Fulham, we've had to bite the bullet and go for what was left. Then to see Roberto Martinez unsurprisingly to be honest turn us down which no doubt was more a testiment to how much of a joke our board was rather than how loyal he was to Wigan, just illustrated how much of a catastrophe the search had been. By backing themselves into a corner no wonder the Villa board has had to turn to the likes of Alex McLeish.

    Now as a Villa fan i'm really not bothered whether he's just come from Birmingham or not. Lets face it if Jose Mourinho was manager of Birmingham and he moved across the city you wouldn't have seen any protests that's for sure. The fact that he's just come from a relegated team just smacks of desperation from a board who have ran out of options.

    So now we are left in a position with a manager and a chairman who are right behind the eight ball from day one of this appointment. Results better come otherwise knowing us "fickle" Villa fans i can see a mutiny coming.

  • Comment number 14.

    #3 Joan_Burton

    Why ?

    18,000 names on a mischievous facebook page shouldn't worry the club, many probably have no connection at all with Aston Villa FC. Half, or maybe more, of that number not appearing on a list of season ticket holders for the 2011/12 really will have meant the fans have voted with their feet or credit cards.

  • Comment number 15.

    Not a villa fan or against them, but is this Fear guy some kind of political charlie? I this, I that....thought he was representing the fans?

  • Comment number 16.

    Mcleish....a joke...FACT....we had him at Ibrox he left us with a pile of rubbish...he had done same with Motherwell,Hibs and now Birmingham.
    Villa fans can look to be playing in championshipe soon.

  • Comment number 17.


    Your right about AM. He is a decent manager he doesn't complain about refs decisions, take alot of things on the chin and the lads at blues respected him, he did to some degree get the best out of what he had, but then again he built that team anyway, so still alot of the blame goes to him.

    First season in charge.

    Blues are not doing that good, Steve Bruce was played like an idiot by the board. Quite right Bruce left. AM comes in we get relegated, the fans think well he came late, lets see if he bounces back.

    Season in the Championship/ Dire horrible football but effective enough to get us promoted. He had the best sqaud of players, mostly all Prem players but still didnt show he can brush aside teams he should be beating quite comfortably. Negative tactics again, he manages with fear of losing, a top manager also manages that way but then manages a team that can win and can attack.

    Thirds season, ok lets see what he can do, he got us promoted and lets hope we have learned our lesson.

    All season we just had our defence and espcially J Hart keep us from losing so many games. Reached 9th, not a position we deserved but we made it anyway. Well done AM we love ya. But now with your success its about time we starting playing football and bring in better players, were tired of 4-5-1 and watching nervously as our team get battered week in week out, dangerous game to play.

    4th season Brings in players like Zidic, Bousa, and a few other flops not even worth mentioning. Again our next season was same old AM and Blues, get battered at the back and trying to rely on Lee Bowyer to grab a goal and luckily we get Gardner who gave us at least some exciting moments and goals. But same tactics as every single year but with a progressively worse squad.

    Completely and i mean completely flucked the Carling Cup, Villa in the leg battered us for most of the game, so did West Ham and most certainly Arsenal did, but we fought hard, we never had a lack of work ethic, and again the defence saved us and we managed to keep knicking poor lucky goals to get us through.

    Then after the carling cup AM thinks that our previous form will protect us for this year. A few injuries and sending off's, but all teams have problems.

    Declares that Wigan is not a must win, the idiot thought that our home form of draws or scraping 1-0 wins would protect our 5 point and better goal advantage. But Wigan proved that they will play football until the final whistle of the last game. Just like when he managed Scotland he didnt win the games he was supposed to, doesn't matter if you beat France, everything counts for nothing until you beat the games your supposed to. No point beating Man U 0-6 at OT and then get relegated.

    If AM was really a winner and a manager then he would have installed faith in Blues that after they won the CC then they can beat any team on the day, but he didnt, he got it all wrong, he dodnt motivate the team enough, every blues fan who watched the games after the CC will say the same.

    That Blame lies totally with the manager.

    Blues board still keep him, but maybe they seen what needed to be changed.

    But no Big Eck knew better.

    The guy will do the same at Villa. Build a brick wall at the back, and hope to nick some goals.

    O'Neil was a master at counter attacking football.

    AM is not

    Villa will go down, i cant see their sqaud that much better than Blues were, Young will Go, Downing will go then they have a lower than midtable team and will struggle and he from what i have seen he hasnt made any real deceny signings, he is out of his depth for week in week out Prem games.

    The guy is a fake and judas, and that's not from an angry blues fan being relagated but from someone who followed my team.

    Every blues fan supported him, got behind him he seemed a decent bloke but he is a career seeking idiot and Villa will find out soon enough that their deepest fears are right.

  • Comment number 18.

    #13 robUEA

    They way you wrote your post, it's too long to reproduce for my reply, makes Aston Villa sound like Newcastle United. They're not. The only similarity is both are success starved clubs in football mad regions of the country. I think Mr Lerner missed a trick as far back as the day he appointed Gerard Houllier, I thought at the time the appointment smacked of desperation and, now, Aston Villa are eleven months further down the line, no further forward and likely to lose their best players to the two Manchester predators.

    I'm intrigued too, did Randy Lerner really give in to the dissenting voices opposed to the choice of Steve McLaren only to court massive resentment with his second preference and subsequent appointment?

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 13

    Good post and i would say quite accurate. It a good point you make about Martinez, and he almost got relegated with Wigan and probably thought Villa would be a step up.

    No disrespect to Wigan but they are relatively a small club, and it must be a concern that Martinez see;s Wigan as more ambitious than Villa.

    Maybe the real Truth is that all the other managers turned Villa down because they didnt feel the board wanted to invest in a new team and have almost lost all their stars. And the last and final option is AM, that sounds more like the truth to me.

  • Comment number 20.

    In the end AM will be judged mostly on results, with a nod to playing style. With respect to all the other clubs Villa have a relatively easy start to next season not playing any of last seasons top-6 sides until 1st Oct. To gain respect AM will have to at least try and win many of these games. If after these first 7 matches Villa are in the bottom half and AM is shown to be playing the same style as at Blues and trying to sneak 1-0 wins then he will have lost whatever 'wait and see' respect people have for him. Look forward to seeing an end of September blog on this Phil.

  • Comment number 21.

    As a non Birmingham based Villa fan without the blues hatred (I would actually prefer to see them in the PL), I don't care where the manager comes from and the earlier point made about whether there would be a fuss if Mourinho was the manager making the move is spot on. My worry since the departure of O'Neill has always been about the ambition of the club. Whilst I am completely anti the astronomical value placed on footballers and their equally absurd and overvalued salaries our chairman has to be prepared to invest all transfer monies plus more into new players and needs a proven manager to spend it. The testimony of a top club is one that is able to keep its good players and Villa have let too many of them go. Like many others I don't believe Mr McCleish is that man and Villa's usual dilly dallying about finding managerial replacements has raised its ugly head once again. I do hope that AM will prove me wrong and if so I will be more than happy to put my hand up and own up to being wrong but the analysis of AM from the Blues fan above is worryingly accurate. I just hope that RL moves sooner rather than later if the results against decent opposition are bad.

  • Comment number 22.

    Congratulations Mr Lerner. It was always going to be near impossible to choose an even more unpopular and unsuitable manager for Aston Villa than Houllier, but boy, you did it.
    Now how about going for the hat-trick and lining up David O'Leary for a return to the club after you've sacked McLeish at Christmas?
    Know your limitations and get out of football, for the club's sake.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry to be slightly off topic here but there is a question i've always wanted to put to football fans from Birmingham. When you consider that all the big football clubs in the world game hail from the big cities like London, Manchester and Liverpool in the UK, Madrid and Barcelona in Spain plus Rome, Turin, Munich, Amsterdam and so on, why has the second biggest city in the country that invented the game never produced a club of similar stature? This is not meant to be a wind-up or anything like that, just a little curiosity i've always wondered about. The big city clubs have the obvious advantage of bigger population which means bigger support which usually begets success because they can utilise this bigger support to generate higher finances than smaller town clubs yet Birmingham as a city buck this trend. As I say, this is not meant to be disrespectful towards Birmingham or its people, just a questio i've always wondered about.

  • Comment number 24.

    McLeish has a pretty decent track record. At Motherwell he finished second in the SPL before taking over a lowly Hibernian side where he managed to finish third. He then succeeded Advocaat at Ibrox at a time when huge cost-cuts were being implemented. Villa fans know all about Martin O'Neill and at Rangers he managed to at least match his achievements. A bit of mixed fortunes at Birmingham with some dull football but I think he should at least be given the chance at Villa. The fans feelings are understandable but from a neutral point of view the guy should be given time to show what he can do with potentially a bit of money to spend. Look at Everton this season, a very slow start but still finished with a respectable position. This is a very bold decision from Mr Lerner but one which I think is destined to fail due mostly to the villa fans expectations. I believe a bit more realism is required on their part as, certainly from an objective point of view, they are not as big a club as many are making out.

  • Comment number 25.

    Why would a player such as Downing want to stay at a club which has just appointed a relegated manager, which is going to be a nightmare if he doesn't bring immediate success, knowing full-well that the breakthrough is never going to come at Villa, when he can toddle off to Liverpool and be part of something special that is actually happening?

    Looks a no-brainer to be honest, which is why I feel McLeish will lose his first major test, through no real fault of his own.

    Long season for Villa.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well done Randy. "Fan" power didn't win in the end. It never does. Good luck to Alex and I'm sure us REAL fans will be behind you all the way

  • Comment number 27.

    Doesn't seem like the best appointment for Villa. Before the season even begins the fans have been lost, short of some transfer window miracles. AM is a good manager but after the fiasco that was Houllier, surely he should have realised that he needed to choose a popular manager to succeed him. Hughes seemed like the obvious choice. Now AM has to start winning from day one and the fans will always feel more inclined to turn against him should he falter.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a BCFC supporter I have followed this very carefully. For me there are two major problems
    1 I thought AM was a good manager for Birmingham, always kept his own council, never blamed referees or injuries when bad results happened. But I do now question his professionalism on the way he has walked out on BCFC and, the manner of his leaving by email.
    It really does concern me, resigning by email is very un-professional, it lacks respect for club and supporters alike, and could be seen in many quarters as cowardly.
    2 Secondly, I think the League Managers Association has also backed the wrong horse. Regardless of what has gone on at BCFC two wrongs do not make a right, somewhere Aston Villa had a finger in the pie, otherwise Mr McLeish would not have walked out of his office last Friday to go on holiday? without saying a word to anyone. Yet the LMA backed AM's stance. Why hasn't the LMA or some other footballing body been critical of these very underhand tactics?
    May Carson Yeung receive every penny of the £5.4 million pounds owed for a broken contract.

  • Comment number 29.

    @28 Perhaps he felt that the Birmingham board were turning on him, with their promotion or else and the sacking of his chief scout. This probably led him to feel that they would sack him anyway should the chance arrive so maybe he was better leaving.

  • Comment number 30.

    It is astonishing that anyone could think that an ex-manager of Rangers would be in any way intimidated or put off by the comparatively trivial rivalry between Aston Villa and Birmingham FC. Take a look at what has happened to Neil Lennon this last season to see what serious inter-club rivalry looks like. When people look around the world for the great rivalries, they mention a few clubs and cities, notably Glasgow, Milan, Buenos Aires - no one mentions Birmingham. Settle down and get on with your boring Midland lives and stop pretending that you're part of some historic football heritage. There are two biggish teams in Birmingham. You support one of them. That's it.

  • Comment number 31.

    (Observation from a neutral.) The statement McLeish made in the press release was masterful, although if I was a Birmingham City fan it would have soured the past season's wonderful Cup success. When he said: "I know that some of our fans have voiced concerns and I can understand why", there is no doubt about who he means by "our". Villa.

    McLeish has moved on. Eventually, the fans will too.

  • Comment number 32.

    @30 Ha, is that chip on your shoulder Scottish?

    If you bothered to read past what journalists are spoon feeding you you'd see that most Villa fans don't care that he managed Birmingham. They care that he has a rubbish CV, a rubbish style of football and that his last act as a PL manager was to get a club relegated.

  • Comment number 33.


    What happens at Rangers v Celtic isn't rivalry. Or even anything to do with football.

  • Comment number 34.

    DjR 606

    Blues fan here. I'm not sure that this will blow over as swiftly as you predict, it will certainly live in the memory for a while!

    The thing is, I like Big Eck. For a team of Birmingham's small-ish calibre, despite finishing 9th two seasons ago, he was a suitable manager. Yes, we were very defensive and scored the fewest goals in the premier league last season, but the season before and the first half of last season, it worked absolutely fine. I must confess, Villa are a much bigger team. I'm not going to judge yet, but I'm not sure whether Big Eck has the ability to take Villa towards their full potential.

    Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing Villa get relegated. They're the biggest bunch of moaners ever, I'll give them that.

  • Comment number 35.


    Birmingham, Villa, a trivial rivalry?

    Dear me.

  • Comment number 36.


    Villa, Birmingham. A trivial rivalry?

    Dear me you're misinformed.


    Well said

  • Comment number 37.

    @32 McLeish's CV is pretty decent. 2nd with Motherwell, 3rd with Hibs, titles and trophies with Rangers. He inherited a Bham team that was already on it's way down and has since won promotion, a very good PL finish and the carling cup. Obviously blemishes as well but most managers have them. Give the man a chance.

  • Comment number 38.

    988 words of stating the blindingly obvious. How will you cope if you ever have to get a proper job, Phil?

  • Comment number 39.

    As a Villa fan I have gone from angry to confused to reflective and decided to grow up in this current world of English football. People come and go all the time. The only true loyalty comes from fans. McLeish is not a bad manager and if he had not been at Blues I may have been quite pleased with the appointment from the outset. So after my initial reaction of anger died away I remembered that all I care about is Villa doing well. I don't give a damn about the Blues loss or where our new manager comes from. I want to focus on now and the future like all Villa fans should. Yes, I am realistic. So now we have Alex McLeish and we should stop gobbing off, get behind him and judge him on what he does. I hope Mr Lerner supports his needs. What will happen next? Martin O'Neill goes to Blues? Now that will deserve a chuckle.

  • Comment number 40.

    bring back 606

  • Comment number 41.

    Thought Villa under Lerner would, in a couple of years, be pushing for the top 6, in the EPL. Now, it seems, that dream has been abandoned - a relegation-battle club it is.

    As for the Birmingham rivalry - ridiculous triviality, from a dying part of the country that has very few other things to hold on to...

    Soccer-wise » The worst appointment of the candidates. Maybe he will prove me, as summer entertainment, watch Villa raiding Birmingham City...
    A City, apparently, destined to having two yo-yo Clubs...

  • Comment number 42.


    A dying part of the country that has a GDP of $90 Billion a year? You want to educate yourself before you spout opinions like this in on a public forum. It makes you look like an idiot.

  • Comment number 43.

    The only people who say that Am's cv is good are Scotiish people.

    He did well at hibs, fluked a semi in the cl witha team that gets qualified for CL games by default.

    English football especially the prem is miles and leaps ahead of the wee quality less SPL. So his CV has no power anymore.

    CV IN England so far.

    2 relegations in 3 and a half seasons.

    The ugliest football in the Prems History.

    Got lucky with a cup

    26% percent ratio

    Thought O'Connor was prem standard.
    Thought Jerome was a good striker
    Bought Zidic
    Bought in countless bad players
    Spent more than 40 mil

    Villa are going down


  • Comment number 44.

    No 23.

    Yes, I have often wondered about this too. I'm a Norwich fan but was raised in Brum so have a soft spot for Villa. I saw them lift the European Cup when I was a boy and assumed they would go on to be a massive club. And they are. But one that does not win things. They are historically a massive club (in the early days of football) and have always been on the verge of being great again. Let's not forget how close they have been in recent years to the Champions League. But for some reason they have not quite pushed on. And the more I think of it the more I think it comes down to management. SAF, Wenger et all, have had a vision of how to make a club great. I don't think any manager Villa has had in recent times has had anything remotely like this. As many Villa fans have said, Riikjard wanted the job and I think he may well, with correct backing, might have built a very interesting situation. McLeish won't. When Randy came it seemed that Villa would go on to live up to that 'great' potential but with this bizarre appointment it just smacks of being happy to settle for also-ran status. And of course, it has nothing to do with the fact he managed Blues. It's the fact that he is not going to be the man to lift Villa to greatness like the clubs that no.23 talked about.

  • Comment number 45.

    As a Bluenose, I liked him, but I'm not exactly gutted to see him go. He won us a Cup and relegated us twice (for me this balances out), but I think the thing that sticks with me is that nearly every neutral in the country wanted us relegated on the last day, simply because of our negativity. Desparate to watch and a goal every 98 minutes! I think he'll be good for Villa if he's given the cash, but it won't be pretty to watch.

  • Comment number 46.

    McLeish Is a great manager, he won one trophy at Birm........ If he can do that there, then who's to say he won't be able to win ten with a bigger, better squad and a bigger better budget. I think we (Villa Fans) should be very grateful that we're not going to be in the same diabolical situation at the beginning of this season, as we were at the start of last season.

    Let's look forward to seeing how the man does.

  • Comment number 47.

    Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo or Chris Hughton would seem to be better options. This appointment suggests that the owner was looking for a manager who can consolidate and grind out results on a modest budget. Benitez, like Houllier, are very much chequebook managers, and perhaps not even that good adept at making the right signings today’s game. Ancelotti probably wanted to manage a more prestigious club than Villa.

  • Comment number 48.

    Just because we didn't reach to high end of superiority of football rivalry like setting players cars on fire, death threats to managers and pre historic religious beliefs doesn't mean that there is no hate, there is hate, Villa hate Blues and Blues hate Villa. It is the the most policed local derby in England.

    A freidnly between Rangers and Blues was canceled due to some information the police got, as Rangers was gonna taste what Blues had to offer. I dont agree with Football violence just stating a fact.

    Rangers and Celtic put together will not bring to much fear to Birmingham

  • Comment number 49.

    Anyway get your fivers out

    Chris Hughton is on his way to blues.


    and you heard it here first, just leaked out today from someone who works at St Andrews, he has been approached and will be interviewed soon. Steve Cotteril is the only one who has had a direct so far.

    Blues are going back up and Villa are going down, although i want them both in the same league as the derbys are what we wait for.

  • Comment number 50.

    if any of you want a blog about the euros or anything else for that matter, write one yourself! alternatively, bore off to another website and look for one there....

    phil writes what he writes and thats just how it is because that's what he's paid to do so please lets just get over it once and for all?

  • Comment number 51.

    Why wasn't a blog created showing Martinez's loyalty towards the club, everyone rants on about how important loyalty is & how there is a lack of it in the footballing world yet you get a manager who has stayed out of pure love & loyalty for the club & not a single word is said?

    Can't even be bothered to read your blogs Phail McNulty.

  • Comment number 52.

    The fact that he came from Birmingham only makes the disappointment of Villa fans worse. I think that most clubs in their position, top half of the table looking to move into top 6, would be unhappy with the appointment of a manager that has been relegated twice since 2008. The CV doesn't exactly scream Premier League success.

    Villa need to get off to a flying start if McLeish is going to avoid being sacked by Christmas.

  • Comment number 53.

    There is a huge clash of cultures here: Lerner has made a business decision to take on board a professional manager that he believes will do a good job. If McLeish had been the manager of some far-flung team then there would have hardly been a murmur of dissent. Indeed, he may well have been welcomed with open arms. But he's come from a geographically close business rival, and with the fans being partisan they are reacting emotionally, not rationally. The man is a manager paid to do a job to the best of his ability; having been employed by a rival business does not make him any less of a manager; he is not "tainted" (another emotional response).

    Maybe his recent track record of two relegations in three years is being held against him. Perhaps the fans should look back on successful managers of the past, and present, they will see they had their failures before their successes; anyone want to look back at Ferguson's early years at MU?

    I'm hoping that Lerner's decision is the right one - in the long term.

    I hope the fans will give him a chance; Villa has been through a period of instability, rocking the boat now really won't help make it successful but will only serve to undermine and inhibit success.

  • Comment number 54.

    There is a huge clash of cultures here: Lerner has made a business decision to take on board a professional manager that he believes will do a good job. If McLeish had been the manager of some far-flung team then there would have hardly been a murmur of dissent. Indeed, he may well have been welcomed with open arms. But he's come from a geographically close business rival, and with the fans being partisan they are reacting emotionally, not rationally. The man is a manager paid to do a job to the best of his ability; having been employed by a rival business does not make him any less of a manager; he is not "tainted" (another emotional response).

    Maybe his recent track record of two relegations in three years is being held against him. Perhaps the fans should look back on successful managers of the past, and present, they will see they had their failures before their successes; anyone want to look back at Ferguson's early years at MU?

    I'm hoping that Lerner's decision is the right one - in the long term.

    I hope the fans will give him a chance; Villa has been through a period of instability, rocking the boat now really won't help make it successful but will only serve to undermine and inhibit success.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am simply looking at this from the point of view of taking an interest in the careers of Scottish managers in the 'big league'. I like to see them do well.

    AM has always been a strange one for me. I do not doubt him as a man in any way, even given the questionable manner of his departure from BCFC. I mean, i imagine in his own head he knew it was finished there, on top of the fact i see him without doubt as a career football manager rather than having a huge emotional attachment to any club.

    The thing that has always bothered me is that i do not think he is a good football manager, but i do think that he is a winner. Even his time at BCFC would represent this well: a bad manager can get you relegated but a winner will get you trophies! Maybe you can be both?

    At Rangers, clearly relegation was never an possibility, thus his qualities as a winner were able to trump his ability as a top class manager. This guy can handle pressure and i feel he takes an unemotional approach to his job. I remember a funny press conference he done as rangers manager, when under the fiercest of pressure at the time he was asked if he understood why the Rangers fans were not happy, to which he replied, ' well, if i was a Rangers fan, i wouldn't be happy either'. You can imagine how well that went down!

    I am basically left thinking that this appointment could go any way, which i think as the dust settles is the general consensus amongst neutral observers. Perhaps the step up in the world will bring with it a step up in his ability as a manager and the prospect of some 'nice stuff' on the park, who knows?! but that winner's quality should, whether they like it or not, light the smallest ember of hope in even the most ardent anti Mcleish Villa fans.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ #23 MikeyBlathers

    Good point but Villa are a big club. Not as big as Liverpool, Man Utd or Arsenal but up there with the next batch of big clubs - Spurs, Everton, Chelsea, Newcastle etc.

    Also a good exception to your pont:
    Berlin (capital of Germany) - Hertha Berlin - They are not really up there with Bayern, Dortmund, Hamburg, Schalke etc

  • Comment number 57.

    Maybe Randy Lerner has hired a manager who can take FULL charge when he's away.
    One of Lerner's sons evidently starts university in Cleveland this autumn and reports are that he intends to spend more than the 2 days per week he spends there at present. I addition he has 3 more offspring in New York where he has his home. Somewhere in there is a commitment to Aston Villa as well as the Cleveland Browns.... busy man. I think the City of Birmingham will not see too much of him next season. Just as well if things don't work out with McLeish.

  • Comment number 58.

    Very good appointment by Randy Lerner. McLeish will be a very good fit for us at this moment in time. Operating on a bigger, better stage than was his lot at Birmingham B9, he'll be surrounded by better players, and better facilities. He'll be good for AVFC, of that I'm sure. Actually he is what we needed when Martin O'Neill hit the door, but circumstances dictated that that wasn't to be.

    Plaudits to Lerner, for standing firm against the near tidal wave of protests, that greeted the news that McLeish was very firmly on his radar, and admiration for The Big Eck for deciding to meet the challenge head on, knowing full well the unrest and open hostility being directed his way by angry supporters, who need to get a reality check, appreciate what needs to be done to get this great club of ours back on track, and support the man in the difficult times that lay ahead.

    Nobody should be fooled by last seasons ninth place finish. The serious decline from the standards achieved under O'Neill were evident for all to see. This is a club heading backwards at an alarming rate, but the arrival of McLeish should see normality return to Villa Park.

    He inherits a talented squad, even without the departing Ashley Young, and with the injection of three or four quality performers, we should be well capable of going head to head with the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool for a fifth/sixth place finish.

  • Comment number 59.

    One Steve M - Your comparison with Fergie is more than a little off. Fergie came to United after having won a European Trophy among others things with Aberdeen, no relegations. He didn't get off to a great start at United but he didn't relegate them either.

    This appointment will soon draws comparrisons to Hodgson at Liverpool, without the fans a manager must win to get them on side, a few poor results and they can not manage any more.

  • Comment number 60.

    Loving that Mcleish has taken over at villa just to throw it in the faces of all the Villa fans who said on the other blog that it would never happen and that it was all media hype! back in your faces!

    You've now got the worst manager in the premier league at a club that just seems to be trying to get rid of its best players, only decent player left will be Bent who will leave in January because he won't get any service.

    Can't wait to watch Birminham's team from last year playing in the Claret of villa and taking them down. Maybe then the Villa board will realise that Martin O'neill should have received full backing!

    It's all the boards fault! i can see them taking Villa down and down and down!

  • Comment number 61.

    Phil - Its certainly going to be an uphill struggle for Alex McLeish, a sizeable majority of Villa fans seemingly against him; some of the better players probably 'away' from the club before he even gets his feet under the table and as many suspect, not alot of money to spend. There will be those who compare his situation to that of Roy Hodgson at Liverpool, fans against him from the start, etc. However the crucial factor is likely to be the players and the backroom staff; if McLeish has them with him, then he has a chance, if however there are 'mutterings in the ranks' then all might well be lost and I doubt there is a 'King Kenny' figure in the background to come riding in to save them!

  • Comment number 62.

    I think some Villa fans need a reality check.

    McLeish has done well at every club he has managed and granted he's never going to be the manager at real madrid or barcalona and yes he does sign the odd dud but your previous managers have track records of wasting money also.

    The guy will get results and stabilise a club that was bordering on relegation even though they bought a £24 million pound striker in January and have a team full of internationals. This is what McLeish does well, he takes under achieving teams and improves them while picking up the odd trophy along the way.

    So count your blessings that a guy with a decent track record and a metality to win trophys has decided to take over your mediocre, mid table club.

  • Comment number 63.

    Pompey - Fair enough ... my other points still stand!

  • Comment number 64.

    I've been a villa fan all my life, and supported them through thick and thin. No matter who's in charge it's still Aston Villa and always will be. All that can be asked for is that the fans get behind the team and the manager and let them do the job they've been tasked with doin. A ball has'nt even been kicked n all thats bein talked about is how bad AM was with the Blues, forget the fact he got them promoted a few times as well? He had a tight budget and a board that had'nt half a clue wot it was doin lol. AM shud at least get a chance, I mean he a manager 1st and foremost, if we want villa to fail, then continue to bicker and moan cus it ain't gonna help the club 1 little bit. Get behind them and show that the villa fans can be counted on as the 12th man they need to be....

  • Comment number 65.

    If you can manage one of the Old Firm then you can handle just about most footballing anger that comes your way.

  • Comment number 66.

    A mesmerisingly poor decision by Lerner, that simply goes to show how much an American really knows or understands about English football. McLeish will undoubtedly be the bookies favourite for the first Premier League sacking of the season. If I was a Villa fan, I'd be sick to the stomach.

  • Comment number 67.

    McLeish is showing the toughness of his character - something Villa need to have translated collectively onto the field of play. And he will make it happen. He is an excellent man-manager, and if Randy Lerner can sign up the players Eck really wants (not 'Plan B' players), then I can see Villa being a very strong force in the Premier League.

    People say his tactics are negative. Nonesense. He HAD to be defence-minded at Birmingham because they had been yo-yo club for many years. He tried to stop that by making sure they were, first and foremost, a very hard team to beat. He succeeded in that. 12 games in-a-row undefeated in his first full season in the Premier League? Winning a major trophy last year - with Birmingham, for God's sake! When he first took over at Birmingham, he had just a few months to sort the team out and avoid relegation; this was his first ever experience of English football. He narrowly missed out on that target, but then got Birmingham back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Carson Yeung promised him tens of millions of pounds - but Yeung completely failed to sign his main targets (Dembele, N'Zogbia, Pavluchenko, Chucho et al). The Birmingham board constantly lied and tried to fool their fans about how much support they were giving McLeish; and they left him to patch together a team made of Championship players and journeymen. But he also still managed to put together the best central defensive duo (Dann & Johnson) that Birmingham FC have probably ever seen. If Yeung and Pannu had brought in the players he had actually asked for, Birmingham would have been sitting high in the Premier League at the end of last season.

    Anyone who thinks McLeish is inherently defence-minded or a negative tactician obviously never cared to watch his Hibernian or Motherwell teams; they both played fast attacking football, and he brought through some excellent youth players at each club - which was what attracted Rangers to him. At Rangers, despite the club's finanical good times being over, he brought more trophies to the club than Martin O'Neill managed at Celtic (with greater resources).

    In games that really matter, he's shown himself to be up there with the best managers when it comes to tactics; Scotland's victory over France a few years ago in Paris was just one example during his tenure as Scotland manager. And to beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup final is no mean feat.

    Villa fans need to calm down. This is a top appointment, and you have one of the toughest managers in the game; back hi

  • Comment number 68.

    Born in Birmingham, Villa fan, season ticket holder for 10 years....

    Heres my two pence worth.......
    Ive seen many managers come and go in the premiership at Villa, appreciated some good football and endured some poor stuff too. MON leaving was a big shock that went through the club to the core, suprised everyone, right down to the cleaner.. AM's appointment, i will judge that come the end of the season, also sending shockwaves throughout the Midlands/Nationwide in fact the football world in general, everyones had their say on this appointment...

    Yet look at the history of the club as a whole, League titles, Cups, Euro cups, yet we always failed to attract the right kind of players/managers the rest of the teams in England got. Alot of this is purely down to publicity, fact, bias, whatever you want to call it, the city has never had the "appeal" like London/Manchester or Liverpool, the media control so much of whats seen and they favor other cities and teams overall, MOTD just proves it.

    We, in the city of Birmingham, be it Villa or Blues, take our football as serious and are as passionate about it as anywhere else in the world, the derby.... the next day at work, the banter, the joy/pain, laughter, we love football here! There's so much more that goes on behind closed doors in football we (the fans) don't know

    Why so few candidates linked with such a prestigous managing position in the Premier League? alot of things don't quite add up for me, the club didn't interview Mclaren because of the fans feelings, so they appoint AM.... Martinez (top bloke) decides against leaving Wigan, all due respect, smaller club, but chairmens a diamond.... looking closer at the clubs statement on the new potential manager....

    From the beginning of our search, we have set out criteria based on proven Premier League experience, compelling leadership, an ethic for hard work and, most importantly, sharing our vision for Aston Villa as we know that without a shared vision any appointment, however attractive, will ultimately fail.
    Since 2006 we have approached our custodianship of Villa based on a broad-based strategy of significant investment to improve the squad, the training ground and Villa Park. We feel it is essential to select a manager who understands and supports our strategy for the Club to grow and to be sustainable. Otherwise, the natural tensions and competitive pressures that are involved with every season will ultimately cause instability and make continuity impossible.

    Basically, they have ruled out the possibillity of getting a decent manager, from the offset, they settled on, no disrespect to him, 2 relegations, 1 promotion and a lucky cup win in his tenure at Blues.......

    I so hope im wrong...........
    Great club, great fans... betrayed by the owner and board....

    @62 only 2 teams in scotland, not exactly challenging to win trophies there........

  • Comment number 69.

    I have supported Villa for the last thirty five years ,through the days of Brian Little, Andy Gray and the likes. After Martin Oneil was appointed and the structure of the young British team he was in the process of building was emerging ,the heart started pumping again.I am not saying that Martin Oneil was Villas savior but he had a direction. He was in the process of building a fine team.Since the day he walked out on Randy learner , the club has suffered ,together with us fans who went week in week out.I traveled a round trip of 300 miles on a weekend to watch my team and was always proud to wear the shirt on the trip back home -win loose or draw. But having witnessed the shambles and embarrassment of the past twelve months and particularly the past few weeks ,I must also admit, that I too will turn my back on a club that turns its back on loyal supporters.I hope Mr Learner all the best with his sinking ship but this -once loyal rat is off.
    PS: any Blues fans out there want a set of vintage villa shirts to wash their toilets with?

  • Comment number 70.

    I have supported Villa for the last thirty five years ,through the days of Brian Little, Andy Gray and the likes. After Martin Oneil was appointed and the structure of the young British team he was in the process of building was emerging ,the heart started pumping again.I am not saying that Martin Oneil was Villas savior but he had a direction. He was in the process of building a fine team.Since the day he walked out on Randy learner , the club has suffered ,together with us fans who went week in week out.I travelled a round trip of 300 miles on a weekend to watch my team and was always proud to wear the shirt on the trip back home -win lose or draw. But having witnessed the shambles and embarrassment of the past twelve months and particularly the past few weeks ,I must also admit, that I too will turn my back on a club that turns its back on loyal supporters.I hope Mr Learner all the best with his sinking ship but this -once loyal rat is off.
    PS: any Blues fans out there want a set of vintage villa shirts to wash their toilets with?

  • Comment number 71.

    Really classless from all parties is my honest opinion. Compounded by Alex Fegusons comments yesterday. Maybe manu fans should start looking at Mancini as their next manager? same diff imo

  • Comment number 72.

    I have supported Villa for the last thirty five years ,through the days of Brian Little, Andy Gray and the likes. After Martin Oneil was appointed and the structure of the young British team he was in the process of building was emerging ,the heart started pumping again.I am not saying that Martin Oneil was Villas savior but he had a direction. He was in the process of building a fine team.Since the day he walked out on Randy learner , the club has suffered ,together with us fans who went week in week out.I traveled a round trip of 300 miles on a weekend to watch my team and was always proud to wear the shirt on the trip back home -win lose or draw. But having witnessed the shambles and embarrassment of the past twelve months and particularly the past few weeks ,I must also admit, that I too will turn my back on a club that turns its back on loyal supporters.I hope Mr Learner all the best with his sinking ship but this -once loyal rat is off.
    PS: any Blues fans out there want a set of vintage villa shirts to wash their toilets with?

  • Comment number 73.

    @72 - thousands of Rangers fans said the same ('I'll never go back') when Mo Johnston became the first Catholic player (and ex-Celtic 'God') to join The 'Gers. I thought civil war was going to break out in Scotland. Within weeks, Ibrox stadium was packed to the rafters with 'Gers fans singing 'Mo, Mo, Super Mo!' and loving every minute of rubbing Celtic fans' noses in it. The same will happen at Villa. So get your vintage shirt back on;). It's not that bad mate.

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 72

    Utter disgrace!! it shouldn't matter who the Manager is, what league your in or how well your doing!

    By all means say that the board have done the wrong things, that the manager isn't the right man and isn't good enough. But its a poor show to turn your back on the club. I, as a Liverpool fan, can completely understand the frustrations. and i will hold my hands up as one of the fans who didn't want hodgson or the yanks anywhere near our club, but I would never have turned my back on them!

    I always wear my shirt with pride, no matter how good or bad we're doing and hve done for the past 26 years! And will do for the rest of my life. Bring on the Conference for Liverpool and i would still be there at anfield, season ticket in hand, singing the name of LIVERPOOL!!

    another fickle Villa Fan!

  • Comment number 75.

    i hope to god mcleish starts well, we all know how bad houllier had it last season, if Mcleish takes us into the bottom 3, even just for one game, at any stage of the season, all hell will brake loose and he WILL be forced out by the fans.

  • Comment number 76.


    You need to have an attacking mentality and technical skills to have a true winning mentality, something i think AM does not have.


    I agree your an utter disgrace, to even think Blues fans would want your shirt for any reason at all.

    In fact Villa have gained alot more than Blues out of this. It seems he is getting alot of backing and support and has announced his appointment as irresistible.

    Thats a pretty big statement and a real smack in the face to every single Blues fan. If he has issues with the board then dont get fans caught in the cross fire. I think his time at Blues was ok the crowd got being him, he was almost a hero for some, but whatever small prestige he earned amongst Blues has all gone, the guy not only has shown us that he is tactically unaware and the poor football manager in real competitive world class leagues, but also that he doesn't even have an ounce of respect for the Blues fans that loved him.

    Just to think he used the word Irresistible says so much to me about this career seeking, judas, Blue square manager magician.

    I hope he falls flat on his face, managers dont do things like this, only greedy self obsessed ecks.

    If he fails he can pack his bags for good and i am sure nobody is gonna employ him again outside of a Sunday League team in England.

    For me he wont ever manage in England in a lower league and after he gets sacked before Xmas he either has 2 options, Manage Celtic or go to some club in Albania

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm sorry, I just don't get it.....

    The reason McLaren wasn't even interviewed was because of the uproar on online blogs. This was the reason given by the Villa PR.

    There have been protests outside the ground with over a 1000 supporters (who were in turn supported by those who were not on the steps) chanting anti McLeish/anti Blues songs.

    Surely this is more of a protest than online whispers? Why on Earth then is he appointed if the current fury is even more fierce?!

    Aside from the 'McLaren point', McLeish IS a step back: his football is unattractive, he has been relegated twice in four years, has little knowledge/links with players abroad. Houllier was never fully accepted, and AM will never get a chance.

  • Comment number 78.


    Well i guess your gonna have to get your fans together pretty quick then.

    your a depleted squad, you have been on a slide since your new ellis sacked oneil.

    All your stars have gone, and even if you keep downing do u think Mcleish will be able to manage him. Go on downing hoof it up the pitch for clueless aglabangwho.

    He doesnt make quality signings, blues i am sure will block any sale for foster, u dnt have a goalie, your defense is weak, all your players have left and Villa is a team that needs to be rebuilt by the great honorable AM.

    Looking at his stats and previous history in the prem we can see that he has done nothing, one lucky season, a lucky cup run and a 26% win ratio.

    He is clueless and everyone in England is gonna see AM fall flat on his face.

    Unless however someone else chooses the squad for him and he just buys the players a pint at the end of the game to keep team spirit.

  • Comment number 79.

    Good luck to Big Eck. And good blog

  • Comment number 80.

    And lets not forget he was given a decent transfer kitty, and has been promised 30 mil????

    30 mil to build a team.

    The mans been bought in to do a dogs body job, he has no shame.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 79

    Would u like Moyes to come to Liverpool or Kenny the other way.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 78

    i agree that Mcleish is the wrong man for Villa and that they seem to be on the decline. The team was poor last season and with Young going/gone, Friedel gone and an ageing back four Mcleish is really gonna have to pull something out the bag.

    But Lerner didn't sack O'neill. He walked because he didn't think he had the backing of the board (apparantly).

    I don't think Mcleish will get the funds to do anything significant at Villa.

    On the bright side at least there will probably be a birmingham derby in 2012/13, albeit in the Championship

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 81

    I said in an earlier blog that if Kenny left Liverpool i would be happy with Moyes. Good manager who has done a decent job on limited funds.

    but its a different situation, Kenny is Liverpool through and through. Would never go to Everton. Moyes however would preobably see Liverpool as a step up.

    Mcleish has no real affinity to Birmingham. So why would he care where he went?

  • Comment number 84.

    What a great season awaits all Blues fans!

    The joy of promotion to the Premier League while watching McLeish relegated again wearing claret and blue.

    I used to think he was doing a good job clinging on until I thought hang on a manager who still picks Jerome up front has no clue. No goal in the league since November.

    Then I talked to some fans and boy were they fed up. This is not entertainment or value for money they cried and I realised that blind loyality has its limits and must be rewarded.

    Lets get off to a good start and forget the man in the rather strange raincoat. Must have spent too long in Scotland!


  • Comment number 85.

    I struggle to see how Lerner dismissed McClaren as an option then made this move.

    Despite the fact that the England job was clearly too much for him, Steve does have a Dutch title success with Twente - how often do one of Ajax/PSV/Feyenoord not win the Eredivisie? What he did in Enschede was phenomenal.

    The problem with appointing McLeish is he appears to be committed to one type of football, regardless of the quality of his personnel. Once Scott Dann got injured, that strategy of soaking up pressure and hoping to nick something just fell apart. It was clear that Birmingham needed to start playing for the win as their weakened backline couldn't cope in the way it had for the previous season and a bit.

    Not a bad manager as such, but after Houllier something more inspirational was clearly needed.

  • Comment number 86.

    Mcleish is a good manager but has gone to the wrong club it will be like Hodgson at Liverpool. The fans didn't want him so it ended in him leaving it doesn't mean Hodgson was a bad manager he just wasn't wanted by fans. Clubs should listen to fans there the one who buy there merchandise and the tickets which helps pay the wages and the transfer fees.

    Also if you were a player being asked to sign for Villa would you of course not as you can't say you would have faith in Mcleish staying in the job no matters if he does well or not.

  • Comment number 87.

    The defensive and rather scared tactics of McLeish are further exposed by the fact that Scott Dann was not only required to defend in the box with courage but also score goals at the other end.

    Poor bloke.

    The squad was exhausted well before the end of the season.


  • Comment number 88.

    Thank the lord baby jesus that we have Darren Bent to score goals.

    IMO he was the only reason we turned our season around.

    Heskey is our 2nd choice forward(!). Young will go. Friedel has gone. Our back four is missing its brightest star (and in my opinion our best defender last year) - Walker. Dunne is, well, average at best. Downing is talking about leaving. Petrov is beyond past it. NR Coker has gone. OK, I've made my point, but one more:

    (McLeish is not going to attract flair footballers to mix with his safe style of football.)

    We will be relegated

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 88 VillaMann

    Completely agree. You will probably be relegated. And what will happen to Mcleish and Lerner if that happens?? Do you think Lerner Would sell the club? and Would the club really be worth that much?

    no offence, but AV haven't been a 'big' club for a long time. I have a special affection for the Villa as i have been down to villa park quite a few times and even sat in with the Villa fans wearing my Liverpool shirt and they were brilliant.

    Just a shame that there is so many that think the club is so well known in world football when it really isn't. No more than the Everton's, Newcastle's and fulham's anyway.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think McLeish to be an ambitious and a very committed manager. Brimingham was an ordinary team and they attained the extraordinary cup win against Arsenal with no small contribution from this man who instilled belief. It is just unfortunate that Brimingham got relegated from the PL, a set up that has very little leeway for errors of any nature.

    Fans can always have a say but it should base on results and rather not be a foregone condemnation based on an average personal appearance. He has a tough job on his hands, made even tougher by the fact he will be running the gauntlet every game when the guillotine will not be too invisible. It takes true grit to even accept to take on such a hard battle - the consequences known to be near fatal.

    I sincerely hope he makes a success of his Villa mission and earn the respect and love of 'we told you so' lobby. I know I am happy for Villa.

  • Comment number 91.

    The idea that you can win any knock-out competition by being somehow consistently lucky is ridiculous. Out-thinking and out-playing Arsenal isn't luck. AM has consistently showed an ability to marshal low-level resources into something greater. BCFC would have gone down and stayed down without him. As they will now. Aston Villa will rise to top 6 or 7, which is the most that they could possibly hope for as a non-moneybags club. BCFC fans are letting their board off the hook by falling for the Peter Pannu script of attacking McLeish.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 91

    Are you joking?? Liverpool won the CL in 2005 and were no where near the best team. You have to have luck to win any competition. Where exactly has AM "consistently showed an ability to marshal low-level resources into something greater"?? By getting them relegated....twice! I agree that Birmingham will probably struggle to get to get out of the championship now but how are AV a "non-moneybags" club? £24m for Darren bent? not sure any club could spend that kind of money on a whim without having substancial backing. Unless they are now in massive amounts of debt?

  • Comment number 93.

    as a manchester united fan and a complete neutral i have sat and watched the villa circus surrounding their next manager with sheer bemusement. McClaren, Ancelotti, Benitez, Hughes, Martinez?worried about Mcleish?you should be worried about the direction of the club under Lerner, not his commitment but certainly his judgement. Appreciate the reluctance of many villa fans toward Mcleish but boring football or not he managed a promotion, a 9th place and a carling cup win, 1 relegation beyond him and 1 in amongst one of the tightest craziest premier league seasons ever. Seen some missed out 'big sam' comments made but his style of football is hardly cut from a different cloth from big eck. He got most things right bar finding a striker who knew where the net was on a regular basis. seen alot of stick for his 4-5-1 approach but to be fair a good chunk of the teams in the premier league plays 1 striker up top. Strange appointment yes, over criticised yes but Lerner deserves the stick not Mcleish.what is done is done and it is time to get behind him villa fans, your stuck with him till at least christmas.

  • Comment number 94.

    @89 Liverpaul85

    I am in no way offended by the comment about us no longer being a big club. If you define a big club as one as being there since the start, one with European history, one with a legacy, one with a massive fan base, then we are a big club. However, non of that counts for anything when you're fighting it out in the relegation zone for most of the season as we have been this year. We are no longer a big club, nothing substantial has been achieved at home or in Europe for longer than its worth thinking about.

    I am Villa through and through and will never ever turn my back on the club.

    Mr Harry Redknapp knows his stuff when he says he needs to sign top top players just to compete in the top 6 and then hope to break into the top 4. 6th was where villa were, and will fail to return to under McLeish and without an extremely wealthy chairman to chuck money at us. Getting relegated however, is a possibility.

  • Comment number 95.

    When i say extremely wealthy i mean having the amount of capital available that the top 6 do

  • Comment number 96.

    @ 94 VillaMann

    Much respect due! I know the toil we football fans have to go through and i'm glad your not thinking of throwing away your Claret shirt. But unfortunately, you do have a wealthy chairman. Lerner is not short of a bob or two as the Darren Bent transfer shows.

    But Mcleish isn't the right man. A club with your ground, your fan base and in the second city should be well up there with the greats. However, for far too long there has been no ambition from within the club (martin o'neill excluded)

    The fans want the best, but the club seems happy as long as your still in the PL. Although you may not be there much longer.

    I really can see Mcleish taking you down. and i for 1 don't wana see that as i would miss my annual trip down to Villa Park. Just a shame about the Minority of your fans on here who seem to be giving up on the club now that Mcleish is there

  • Comment number 97.


    Wealthy, yes, but not as much disposable income as the guys in the top 4/6. That was all i meant by that comment

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 97

    appreciate what your saying but really the only 2 teams that seem to have a disposable income at the moment is Man City and Chelsea.

    I know there are others investing money as well (Liverpool included) but its all within a budget. Teams like Tottenham and Arsenal are not spending massive amounts on players. But AV seem to be a selling club at the moment and that needs to change.

    I still have to point to the Darren Bent transfer as evidence that AV can spend money at the same rates as many other teams in the PL and it just seems that they are still underacheiving

  • Comment number 99.

    Re 67: You've got your facts wrong, I'm afraid. It is well known that Blues agreed terms with both Wigan and N'Zogbia's agent, but the player himself demanded quite a lot more money at the last minute, much to the chagrin of his agent, Mcleish and Blues' board. The player ultimately apologised and tried to resurrect the deal but McLeish was (understandably) annoyed enough to draw a line under that one. His decision, not the board's. The board also agreed a £12m fee for Pavlyuchenko, but - again at the last minute - Spurs put the price up to £14m, which was a bit underhand to say the least and Blues rightly (or wrongly, or stubbornly, depending on your opinion) refused to pay any more than the fee they'd shaken hands on. Our board also agreed terms with Dembele (it was a done deal by all accounts) but at the last minute he decided he wanted to live in London rather than Birmingham; Zamora might also have signed for Blues for around £10m had he not broken his leg.

    So I would argue that McLeish had all the support (relatively and realistically speaking) that he asked for from Birmingham's board, but somehow circumstances contrived against most attempts to sign quality players.

    Incidentally, those that Eck did manage to sign, the board were singularly unimpressed with. They were pretty annoyed with Eck's insistence on adding Sporting Gijon captain Michel to his collection of holding midfielders for £3m and £25k a week only to see the poor lad warming the bench every game until he was eventually farmed out on loan to AEK Athens; they were apoplectic (as we all were) at the performances of our new robotic giant Zigic, who looked like a complete waste of £6m and £50k+ per week wages for the first five months of the season; they were none to impressed with the average and ever-so-slightly-cumbersome £4m man Jean Beausejoir either, nor with the perpetual moaner Hleb, or the stormer-offer-when-not-selected Bentley.

    Their annoyance was exacerbated by the fact that they had put forward the name Peter Odemwingie to Eck and his team, who didn't rate him. (Much like they didn't rate Wilson Palacios, who was not deemed worth £1m to make his loan permanent, or Mauro Zarate, whose "tracking back" was not quite up to scratch, or Chucho, for god knows what reason.)

    I don't especially like Birmingham's board, and I do (or rather, did) like Mcleish, in spite of his uninspiring brand of football, but the suggestions that they didn't support their manager are a bit wide of the mark in reality. Ok, the £80m they said they were going invest when they first took over - before waking up and smelling the coffee - never materialised, but I certainly don't remember any Blues manager having as much money to spend on players as McLeish had. Incidentally, Eck repeatedly stated his reluctance to spend too much money on either transfer fees or wages; he was, he felt, duty-bound to protect the club's legacy and not go the same way as Portsmouth or Leeds. Still, such proclamations never stopped Eck breaking our transfer record not once but three times: £5m for Roger Johnson in 2009, £5m and £6m respectively for Ben Foster and Nicola Zigic last year. The latter also smashed the wage structure, trumping the previous high-earner (McFadden, £35k a week, also a McLeish signing and our fourth highest transfer fee) by a whopping £15k.

  • Comment number 100.

    when he was the scotland manager,scotland had an outside chance of qualification,it didnt bother mcleish,he still played 1 man upfront.hasnt changed since.he wont see xmas in this job


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