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Villa risk fans' wrath if they appoint McLeish

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Phil McNulty | 14:04 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

When Steve McClaren entered the swirl of speculation surrounding Aston Villa's next manager, his hopes were swept away on a tidal wave of supporters' unrest.

Message boards went into meltdown at the mere mention of McClaren, his successes at club level with Middlesbrough and FC Twente in Holland overshadowed by a nightmare 16-month spell as England coach.

He could not escape the image of 'The Wally With The Brolly' fashioned by his decision to seek protection under an umbrella as England slumped to the defeat against Croatia at Wembley that confirmed their failure to reach Euro 2008.

As the sound of mounting discontent reached the Villa Park boardroom, McClaren's name was struck from list of potential successors to Gerard Houllier.

So will Villa owner Randy Lerner, a keen observer of Villa heritage and student of fans' emotions, invite the possibility of even greater unrest by appointing Alex McLeish, whose sudden resignation via e-mail stunned fierce rivals Birmingham City?

McLeish's departure, followed by heavy criticism from Blues' acting chairman Peter Pannu who was on transfer business for his ex-manager in Holland, saw him instantly linked with a contentious trip across the city to Villa.

If Lerner was indeed persuaded away from McClaren by the lobbying of Villa's followers, then he must have undergone a policy change of epic proportions if he is now considering McLeish.

McLeish is, or at least was, regarded with huge affection at St. Andrews after bringing Birmingham their first major trophy in 47 years when they beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley in February - and his standing was not greatly damaged by their subsequent relegation.

Now the 52-year-old Scot, a popular and affable figure but also a strong and resolute character, risks becoming a villain on both halves of the city's footballing divide should he eventually pitch up at Villa Park.

Within hours of the Villa connection emerging, an "Aston Villa Supporters - We Don't Want Alex McLeish" Facebook page had attracted more than 5,000 names and the front page of Monday's Birmingham Mail carried the headline: "McLeish: Blues AND Villa fans outraged."

Alex McLeish

McLeish took charge of Birmingham in November 2007. Pic: Reuters.

And yet McLeish, like the unfortunate McClaren who paid a heavy price for sins in a previous coaching life despite winning the Carling Cup and reaching the Europa League Final with Middlesbrough and winning Eredivisie with FC Twente, has much to recommend him to Villa.

A success in Scotland with Rangers and with the national side, McLeish was involved in two relegations at Birmingham but also had that glory day at Wembley and guided them to ninth place in the Premier League after winning promotion.

McLeish has the credentials but will an adverse response and the political implications of pursuing the manager who left the footballing enemy amid acrimony prove too toxic for Lerner?

Former England manager Graham Taylor, who had two spells in charge at Villa, told me: "I think Alex is strong enough to handle it but no manager has ever gone between the clubs in one move and it is a big switch to take that step across the city.

"I think Alex has the strength of character but it won't be easy for him. He has a hardness about him. It would be difficult though, because many Villa fans would not want a Birmingham man as their manager and many Birmingham supporters might see him as a traitor. He is a strong man though, and I think he could cope with that.

"As someone who managed Villa I do recognise there is some feeling between the clubs. Ron Saunders joined Birmingham after leaving Villa but not directly and in those days you didn't have what you have now such as internet sites and message boards, text messaging and radio phone-ins. The supporters' voices are heard and reported upon."

When Taylor went back into management at Wolves following his spell with England there was a suggestion he was facing hostility from fans who did not want him in charge.

He recalls: "There was some claims in the written media that there were supporters against my appointment. I spoke to the Wolves secretary Keith Pearson and told him to keep the address of anyone who wrote in and complained and the details of anyone who rang in and we would meet them.

"We did that and there were 37 who complained and 32 who came to the meeting - and it was all really nice."

McLeish is likely to have to face a greater strength of feeling should he walk into Villa Park as manager, with some supporters already insisting the notion is a non-starter.

Jonathan Fear, a long-established and respected spokesman for Villa supporters and editor of the "Vital Villa" website and forum, told me: "In my book the appointment of Alex McLeish is an absolute impossibility. I do not believe the board of Aston Villa, who I have a lot of respect for, would do this to us.

"It's just one of those things that could not be done. I also think Alex McLeish would be ill-advised to take the job because he would be upsetting an awful lot of fans of both Blues and Villa. The idea has already spread panic and alarm on forums and there is a Facebook page. I just don't see it happening.

"You can't expect a board of directors to take on board all the moans of supporters but lots of very, very moderate and mature fans that I know share my view that this is an appointment that just cannot happen."

It remains to be seen whether McLeish is the man lined up for Villa, while McClaren - also the target for dissatisfaction - has since been appointed at Nottingham Forest.

McClaren has had to renew his career after his reputation was damaged with England. Taylor suffered in similar fashion but once more became a revered club manager, and he has sympathy.

He said: "Steve was deemed good enough to manage his country and then suddenly he is deemed by some people not to be good enough to manage Aston Villa, even though he won a trophy at Middlesbrough and then went away after England and won the title at FC Twente.

"I think that is a very harsh on him and I happen to think Nottingham Forest have done very well with their choice of new manager."

If Lerner is to entrust Villa's future to McLeish, he has much persuading to do and the Scot will need all the mental toughness he has shown as player and manager to ride out the storm.


Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    I personally felt Mclaren would have been a good appointment. Good track record at club level and very experienced. Now the whole situation is becoming a farce, with a new manager linked with the vacancy every day. This must be very unsettling for the players at Villa Park, and i really hope this season improves on last.

  • Comment number 2.

    An entire blog dedicated to something that hasn't, and probably won't happen? Must be a slow news day.

  • Comment number 3.

    I will always like McLeish, he done a good job with us. It must have been as traumatic for him as for us fans when we went down after all that hard work. I can understand his resignation, I'm a little bit disappointed, but hey. He's always been quite defence minded, and I'm not sure whether that would suit the Villa.

  • Comment number 4.

    Personally, I don't want McLeish as Villa manager, not because he's the ex blues boss but because he's style of football is pretty dull and he's last achievement was getting a club relegated.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is about the bloke who has had his resignation rejected, so is still offically an employee of Birmingham City FC ?

  • Comment number 6.

    I have read football pundits saying what a good manager McLeish is. Two relegations in 3 Premier League seasons would suggest he is not all that good in reality. Leaving aside local rivalry surely he is not seriously being considered for this job, because there is nothing in his record that says he is anywhere near good enough. It must just be speculation or do the Villa board really think they can't do any better than this?

  • Comment number 7.

    I think the appointment of McLeish would be too contentious for the fans, especially after a poor season under Houllier and would alienate Lerner and the board too much. Let's wait for Hughes, I say.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well done Phil!!! You have produced a blog based entirely on fictitious events.

    It’s unbelievable that you are the BBC’s chief football writer.

    You should be ashamed

  • Comment number 9.

    I'd doubt that McCleish would be a villain in both parts of Birmingham just because he's left one and could go to the other immediately. He's a professional and obviously doesn't have any dedication towards either Birmingham or Aston Villa, if he does coach the team in claret.

    If he was from Birmingham, yes I feel he would betray Birmingham, leading them to the Championship for the second time. He could take the Villa job but Randy Lerner will be dull to appoint him due to his track record in England.

    Benitez would have been perfect for the role but Villa decided not to be the "big spenders" - I feel they would have no choice but to spend big if Ashley Young is really Manchester bound!

  • Comment number 10.

    Isn't the real problem Phil that Villa's media operation is as watertight as they come, and so hacks such as yourself really don't have a clue? As a result Villa's name is being consistently dragged through the mud by "professionals" such as yourself who are as clueless as the rest of us.

    Villa do not do their dealings in public. Villa do not discuss players or managers of other teams in public. Villa do not announce anything until it has all been finalised. See the Darren Bent transfer in the winter for example....

    Please refrain from commenting on matters that you and the rest of us know nothing about. It doesn't take a genius to work out the former manager of Villa's greatest rivals (who just relegated them by the way) would not be a popular choice for the vast majority of Villa fans.

    Villa will have a new manager soon - Randy and the Board will sort it, and for now, that is all you, the Villa fans and the rest of the world needs to know.

  • Comment number 11.

    Chairmen who hire and fire managers to win the approval of supporters are on a slippery slope - Mike Ashley's firing of Sam Allardyce is the most obvious example. McLaren was out of his depth with England but taking Middlesbrough to a European final and winning Twente's first ever league title makes him more than qualified for the Villa job, and if fan power was the only reason Randy Lerner ruled him out, that's poor leadership. Alex McLeish is a first rate manager and I don't blame him for leaving Birmingham after Peter Pannu's "get promotion next season or you're fired" ultimatum. Birmingham were lucky to have him and Villa would be too.

  • Comment number 12.

    Mark Hughes would be a better appointment. Would have been a better blog if it was actually happening. I would have been more interested on a Steve MacLaren blog or one on the appointment of Man City's youth coach as Rochdale manager.

    This has the smack of lets get a lot of comments about it.

    Also anyone knmow what is really happening with Phil Jones' transfer as surely if his contract has a release clause and a club meets it he can go to which one he chooses?

  • Comment number 13.

    There is no official confirmation that there is any interest whatsoever in McLeish by Villa. Why would a respected football journalist like yourself be taken in by the rumour mill?

  • Comment number 14.

    After been linked with top class managers such as Benitez, Ancellotti and Rijkaard and a very talented up and coming manager in Martinez it must be worrying for Villa fans to see McLeish been linked with the job!

    I'm sure that if he got the job he would soon have Villa playing with a flat back 10 and hoofing it aimlessly towards Heskey!

    As for the Birmingham fans, I know a few and despite their Carling Cup triumph many of them were never huge fans of McLeish and his dull and uninspiring tactics.

    I also think it's time people started to look beyond his spell as England manager when judging McClaren. Yes his tenure was poor, but he was hampered by the insurmountable problem all English managers have, namely that you can only pick English players! What chance did he have? Since then McClaren has had great success in Holland and made a dogs dinner of the Wolfsburg job, I'm happy that he has been given a chance by Forest.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Villa fans need to climb down from their own backsides and address reality. I am not saying McLeish is the best manager in the world, but Villa are certainly not the best club side and the "Big Club" mentality that all Villa fans seem to have is very misguided. When one of the best managers in the world (O'Neil) quits over club policy you know there is something wrong. And saying no to Mcleish just because he used to manage the Blue Noses shows just how narrow minded they are. Look at Clough at Notts Forest and Goerge Graham at my club. Both universally disliked before they started the job, both won trophies.

  • Comment number 17.


    From the BBC ticker...


    Man Utd reach agreement with Blackburn over signing of defender Phil Jones on five-year deal

  • Comment number 18.

    This blog smacks a little of desperation, and perhaps of an unwillingness for BBC Sport to develop a sensible HR policy by which - during June and July - the wage bill for football correspondents is halved unless there's an international tournament.


    Jones transfer just confirmed. Check Utd website.

  • Comment number 19.

    #10-Villa will have a new manager soon - Randy and the Board will sort it, and for now, that is all you, the Villa fans and the rest of the world needs to know.


    Bit snobby and arrogant isn't it. The fans have every right to knmow who i sin contention for the role as they pay their money week in, week out to watch Villa play. While they won't eb involved in the decision making getting an idea of fan opinion isn't a bad idea. Mark Hughes would be a great choice for Villa but there aren't many good managers around and at this rate you'll end up with Baron Greenback in charge

  • Comment number 20.

    Phil, you need to have a word with your editor. If he is putting pressure on you to put out tripe like this and waste time on pure speculation then he's focusing his attention in the wrong area's, there is an U21 tournament going on for heavens sake, why not focus on the players that have shown themselves to be be future stars so far?

    It isn't a coincidence that your name at the top of this blog is surrounded by red as this blog was pure red top heaven. Anything to fill up the inches.

  • Comment number 21.

    Villa fans are completely against his appointment because his sides are too defensive and he took Blues down twice in three years.

    He's also still under contract. The title of the article should have been "Villa won't appoint McLeish"

  • Comment number 22.

    All wise words, Phil, but I would take issue with your description of Jonathan Fear as a well-respected spokesman for Villa fans. Many view him as a tireless self-publicist.

  • Comment number 23.

    Rediculous to blame McLeish for the first relegation. He took over a dreadful team incredibly low on confidence more than halfway through the season. Birmingham are a silly little club that have actually treated him quite badly. Pannu and Brady before him were constantly undermining him in the media. This £40 million business is a load of rubbish as well. At one they were claiming they were going to spend £40million in two consecutive transfer windows. The reality was somewhat different judging by all the loan signings McLeish has had to make.
    The idea that they are rejecting his resignation is nonsense as well. Pannu has been a vocal critic of McLeish and now suddenly couldn't possibly accept his resignation. Pannu has a cheek accusing anyone of dishonesty.

  • Comment number 24.

    Whether he goes there or not, Villa fans are becoming more and more like Newcastle fans. They have done nothing for years and years yet expect the best managers available. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say but what draw do you have to bring a top class manager to Villa? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So do yourselves a favour and bring your peg down a notch or six and catch up with reality. If you had done that previously, the wasted opportunity that was Mclaren might not have turned into the nightmare that is McLeish.

  • Comment number 25.

    When will people stop taking this type of lazy reporting seriously, like the bookies they take 2+2 and make 5. The only person who Villa have been correctly linked with is Martinez, and then only because Dave Whelan let it out, nobody at the Villa end has spoken to any press so it is all pure conjecture.

    Once Lerner or Faulkner announce it I'll believe it, otherwise..........

  • Comment number 26.

    A better blog would have been on the appointment of McClaren by Forest. Not on something thatis unlikely to happen.

  • Comment number 27.

    I can't believe that in this day and age that some narrow minded fans are unwilling to accept either a player or manager who just so happened to have worked for their rivals.......Reject them because they're not good enough maybe but not simply because they have worked on the other side of town.

  • Comment number 28.

    I am not sure McLeish is that popular at the Blues. Not amongst the fans I talk to anyway and certainly not with me. Francis, Bruce and now McLeish all favour a brand of football that did not entertain. It is tight defence and players who run all day.

    It will get you results, but I look across at Albion and see their brand of football and am extremely jealous. I no longer have a season ticket and unless there is some potential of a decent level of entertainment I won't be going back and I know that's how a lot of fellow supporters feel, so to say he'll be unpopular for leaving has misjudged the feeling of the fans in my opinion.

    We want entertainment whoever comes in next.

  • Comment number 29.

    @Petshop_boys forever

    Hardly snobby or arrogant was it?!. The Board have NEVER let this football club down since Randy took over from Deadly Doug. I fail to see why this appointment will be anything different.

    The fans and the club have an excellent relationship and their opinions will be respected (see the McClaren situation) but ultimately, its Randy's club, its Randy's money, its Randy's choice, and the fans will either like it or lump it.

  • Comment number 30.


    God I hope that Keegan is in the frame next time Sunderland need a new boss. Then you will understand.

  • Comment number 31.

    So I was right. Phil McNulty's end of season blog was his first reasonably intelligent one of the entire 2010/11 season... and now we're back to the same old tosh.

    Can Mike Ingham write? Please?

  • Comment number 32.

    Good call for coverage of the Euro Under 21s. I would like to know more about the different training methods used in say Spain and England as players are coming through youth academies.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well done Phil!!! You have produced a blog based entirely on fictitious events.

    It’s unbelievable that you are the BBC’s chief football writer.

    Can we stop the Phil bashing please. I don't rate him and most of his opinions seem to be based on what other people say about teams but he is simply writing about a topic which is current.

    If he writes about facts, people ask him to use some imagination, but he writes about this and gets bashed for 'speculation'.

    It is not as speculative and made up as people seem to think. Aston Villa fans have already started a petition, and Birmingham are consulting their lawyers to block a move, so obviously a lot of people suspect this will happen.

    A more interesting blog would, however, focus on why the hell Villa would want to appoint a man whose recent achievements seem to be getting relegated with a fairly talented squad whilst playing the most boring football ever witnessed ....

  • Comment number 34.

    Just because someone recently managed team A, against which the fans of team B for completely incomprehensible or irrational reasons think they have some sort of grudge or, as a result of which the fans of team B with their complete and utter collective lack of managerial experience at any kind of meaningful level, think he's not a very good manager doesn't mean that he shouldn't be appointed the manager of team B, provided the people who appoint him believe he's the right man for the job. The two are mutually exclusive.

    The board of Aston Villa (or indeed of any club which finds itself in this predicament) will appoint the person they deem best for the job, given the available candidates. The views of the fans are of very little importance not least because, if they are the true fans they claim to be, they will support their club through thick and thin till the day they die, as they love to tell us at every given opportunity.

    Given the less than well reasoned arguments put forward by the so-called fans for the board of Aston Villa not appointing Steve McLaren or Alex McLeish as the new manager of that club, if a board of directors of any club were to take such views seriously, then there would be good reason not to appoint anyone with previous managerial or playing experience to any club in case they were "tarnished" by having played for or managed the "wrong" club or because their track record as a manager was criticised by one of the red top newspapers and they were then vilified by the fans.

  • Comment number 35.

    A whole blog on rumors. that, lets face it that wont happen!!

    Poor, very poor.

  • Comment number 36.

    The managerial merry-go-round goes round and round. Same old horses with different riders.

    There are only a hand full of teams in England financially equipped to win anything. Birmingham isn't one of them and neither, it would seem, is Aston Villa anymore. A top half finish is triumph. Avoiding relegation is an achievement. Not winning a trophy at any of the big names is grounds for dismissal.

    The situation is fast becoming farcical. Wenger is under threat. Mancini is under threat. Ancelotti is gone. To be replaced by who??? The usual suspects step forward whenever a vacancy occurs, but they are all destined to a season or two of mediocracy before the merry-go-round moves forward again.

    Where is the new managerial young blood? Where is the board with the Cajones to build a team over the course of several years? Where will O'Neill, Hughes, Benitez, Grant, McLeish et al wind up next? Does it matter or will it really make a difference to the established order. I doubt it very much. I only wish I could pick up some of the severance packages doled out to "failed" managers for under-achievement,

  • Comment number 37.

    As a Scotland fan, it's hard to feel any sympathy for Birmingham on this.

    McLeish had committed himself to Scotland, and even went as far as attending the World Cup qualifying draw with the SFA contingent. On returning, he then resigned from the SFA almost immediately the plan touched down in Glasgow, having been in negotiations with Birmingham before he left. Incidentally, he didn't receive permission from the SFA to talk to Birmingham at any point.

    What goes around comes around....

  • Comment number 38.

    Phil - whats you personal opinion of McLeish as a manager? His record looks poor to me. Do you think he is poor or how else do you explain Birmingham getting relegated while clubs like Wigan and Wolves stayed up. No disrespect to those teams, but McLeish had a much bigger budget.

  • Comment number 39.

    Why are people complaining about the content of this blog....

    Dear someone I have never meet

    It's your job to write about the topics in football today and the biggest one of the last few days is that one club (who have been in the premiership since it's inception and are the most succesful in it's region) are being linked with the manager of their passionate local rivals. Such a move would create a talking point amongst many fans in the midlands... but please don't blog about it. Also please don't write about the big 4 anymore but include other worthy clubs such as Aston Villa or Birmingham City.

    Please do your job well,

    Extremely confused

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Good Luck Alex, you’ll certainly need it if your to take over at Villa their fans are the biggest bunch of deluded moaners in British Football. Truth is McLeish was all the positives of O’Neil without being totally in love with himself and suffering a slightly milder case of runaway bride syndrome.

  • Comment number 42.

    Villa are fast becoming a Joke - badly organised, selling their best players! Villa used to have a certain prestige when i was growing up in the 90's (probably before but dont remember) now I just see them as another also ran lucky to be in the PL..

  • Comment number 43.


    I think its unfair to say nothing in his record to suggest he is good enough. Apart from a few greats (Fergie mostly) managerial records can be looked at either way....Mcleish suffered two relegations whilst at Birmingham, he also secured promotion and a league cup title. He led Rangers to a domestic treble in a league with, lets be fair here, only two contenders.

    Its about how you look at it. Presonally I think he's naff....just playing devils advocate :)

  • Comment number 44.

    Really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this blog. Please Phil, blog about real events and not some fiction. There is no chance that McLeish will be Villa manager. Frankly 2 relegations doesn't look good on his CV. A League Cup? does this make up for 2 relegations? Don't think so. I am sure Villa will be looking for somebody with better credentials.
    I blogged before that there was no chance that Ancellotti would go to Villa and I am sure I am right again. McLeish is not in Villa class, he is more a relegation/promotion guy
    There are tons of available candidate but if I was choosing the only real candidate for me is Mark Hughes. He wants Man U or Chelsea eventually, so he would need to take Villa to a Champions League Top 4 for Man U or Chelsea to be interested. Villa needs somebody that has ambition for and caould take Villa to Champions League within 1, max 2 years whether with Villa or as a stepping stone to the big 4 or 5 or 6.

  • Comment number 45.

    Here we go again, more McNulty-bashing...

    Rivalry aside, think Villa should give McLeish a massive swerve. Never been convinced about him at all, seems very one dimensional and devoid of any real invention, inspiration, or to put it more bluntly, clue. And all this talk of him being a strong character and all that - I just don't see it. Being a bit grumpy and stubborn isn't the same as strength. And even if you're right Phil, it's all well and good if that strength of character helps to inspire your team to perform, but pretty useless if it doesn't. He can't get out there and play, after all. So if that's all you've got working for you, well, I guess you get found out and repeatedly relegated....

    And before anyone goes on about him winning stuff with Rangers, give it a year or two and McCoist will win things with Rangers, for goodness sake. Don't think Mourinho will be looking over his shoulder any time soon though...

    He seems really very dull to me, I couldn't imagine wanting to run through walls for the fella.

    So that's my very non-scientific way of saying Villa can do a lot better. Maybe They will buck the trend and look for someone young and hungry, and who isn't tainted by years of failure/mediocrity.

    Used to hate Villa, don't really anymore and so I hope they are using this time they have wisely, rather than plumping for just another dullard off the same old managerial dole queue.

    Hopefully it'll work out well for Birmingham too, now their hand has been forced to look for someone new.

  • Comment number 46.

    Unfortunately Villa will of course be linked with every available manager from Mcclaren to Ancelotti and despite some of the complaints on here, that is the way it is going to be so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    Mcclaren would have been a disaster; if Houlier couldn't win the fans over then Mcclaren definitely wouldn't have. Yes Mcclaren did well at FC Twente and with Boro, he did badly elsewhere and wouldn't have been the right man for this position.

    We were also linked with Martinez and now Mcleish. Both of these managers have made negative progress with their clubs over the past year (as in premier league position) and although Martinez does encourage a far better standard of football than McLeish does he still barley managed to keep Wigan in the league 2 years running. Yes the Blues made Wembley but who cares, they're relegated. For months Birmingham were on a downward slope and he could do nothing to stop it. Alex will not be able to push Aston Villa forward, both in the type of football he coaches and also in league position. Martinez has ruled himself out but with Lerner's money and his style of football he would have been a good choice.

    The only guy that seems to e the best of an average bunch is Hughes. He is still young, and so is still learning, and he has the right personality. He did well with Man City (having to deal with the egos of both players and board), and I doubt Chelsea will sign him up due to his lack of Champions League experience.

  • Comment number 47.

    The situation is fast becoming farcical. Wenger is under threat. Mancini is under threat. Ancelotti is gone. To be replaced by who??? The usual suspects step forward whenever a vacancy occurs, but they are all destined to a season or two of mediocracy before the merry-go-round moves forward again.

    The situation is a joke, and it is not good for football. I am a gooner and while I am not part of the 'In Wenger we trust' brigade, I certainly don't want to see him gone.

    I am a gooner of many years and remember the years of underachieving awfulness that was the old Arsenal for years. Ian Selley, Steve Morrow, Eddie McGoldrich etc etc were names that were first on the team sheet. Now we have Arshavin, Nasri and Cesc.

    Wenger was winning the battle when Abramovich came and basically changed the rules, now that City have done the same only ManU due to their extraordinary business prowess and sustained success can challenge financially.

    This is not Wenger's fault and the FFP rules will help Arsenal, but also perhaps allow ManU to dominate. If Mancini is under threat it is bad for football, Anchelotti's dismissal was bad for football .... but such is the game nowadays ...

  • Comment number 48.

    Comment number 24.At 15:41 13th Jun 2011, mattthecouch wrote:
    Whether he goes there or not, Villa fans are becoming more and more like Newcastle fans. They have done nothing for years and years yet expect the best managers available. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say but what draw do you have to bring a top class manager to Villa? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So do yourselves a favour and bring your peg down a notch or six and catch up with reality. If you had done that previously, the wasted opportunity that was Mclaren might not have turned into the nightmare that is McLeish.


    From a Liverpool fan. Villa ARE a big club. European Cup winners, League champions and FA cup winners countless times. Large fan base. One of the oldest clubs in the country.

    Just because they haven't been lucky enough to win the owners lottery (Chelsea, Man City) which has developed since Sky purchased (and largely destroyed) English football, It does not mean that they are not a big club.

  • Comment number 49.

    as a villa fan I'm disappointed that we have tried to get a manager who's team survived relegation just on the last day of the season and now apparently a manager who's team actually was relegated. Him been a blue is irrelevant we should be targeting managers with a better recent record!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    I thought the Sheffield United board would not be stupid enough to appoint an ex wednesday player and managed..

    They did..

    And the blades protested in the car park at the press conference...

    Didnt do any good..

    Down we go again.

    I hope McLeish is appointed as i would laugh my socks off....

  • Comment number 51.

    Good Luck Alex, you’ll certainly need it if your to take over at Villa their fans are the biggest bunch of deluded moaners in British Football. Truth is McLeish was all the positives of O’Neil without being totally in love with himself and suffering a slightly milder case of runaway bride syndrome

  • Comment number 52.

    Villa's problem (similar to Newcastle and Everton) is that they have the fan base and expectation of a big club but there are now six clubs with squads and resources they can't compete with. Do you break the bank trying or do you consolidate? Can't blame Randy Lerner for being sensible with his money but can't blame managers for being reluctant to gamble their reputations with a job that has a ceiling of seventh in the premiership, whether the fans like it or not. That's why O'Neill left, it's why Benitez was never realistically going to take the job, it's why McLaren would have been a decent catch and why McLeish still would be.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ chongmaster

    It is all speculation. A BBC journalist should have some integrity. Why didnt he try to contact Villa for a statement on his musings?

  • Comment number 54.

    Insiders at Villa Park. Are saying that Mark Hughes will be announced manager on the 1st of July.

  • Comment number 55.


  • Comment number 56.

    Big Eck has more than enough about him to do a good job at Villa. I support both Villa and Rangers and if you can cope with managing Rangers or Celtic and be successful, then you can cope with most things in football.

    There is no doubt he was a success with Rangers, the first Scottish team to qualify past the group stages, amongst numerous trophies. He also had a successful spell with Scotland.

    I wouldn't be unhappy if he came, but i think we can do better, after all he has took Birmingham down 2 of the last 3 seasons - that would be my biggest issue, i couldn't care less who he has managed before, but then i don't live in Birmingham.

    I would have liked Martinez, but i think that shows you were we are as a club, when someone wants to stay at Wigan and most likely be relegated next year, rather than come to us. I also would have been happy with Mclaren, he is a very good coach.

    I still think it will be Hughes, there aren't many other choices left.

  • Comment number 57.

    We seem to forget that the great Ron Saunders made the journey in the opposite direction and survived there four 4 years !

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm slightly baffled by the Villa fans' reaction. I know he's an ex(provisionally)-Birmingham manager, but he's a very good one and a likeable bloke. Lerner would have to consider the reaction of the fans, and I can't see it happening given their reaction to the prospect of McLaren taking over... again I didn't understand that either, McLaren had a bad spell with England but has shown himself to be a good manager in England and elsewhere. Through all this the question I've been asking still hasn't been answered, why isn't Curbishley in the frame?

  • Comment number 59.

    Comment number 54.At 15:59 13th Jun 2011, dt77 wrote:
    Insiders at Villa Park. Are saying that Mark Hughes will be announced manager on the 1st of July.

    Would they be the same insiders who said that he absolutely ISN'T being considered?

    It wont be Hughes.

  • Comment number 60.

    2.At 15:16 13th Jun 2011, Ten_Thousand_Fists wrote:
    An entire blog dedicated to something that hasn't, and probably won't happen? Must be a slow news day.
    Phil Jones deal finalised and signs a 5 year contract with United.
    There you go - hot off the press and not on the BBC pages yet !!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Why when England have been poor since Steve McClaren was sacked is he still getting vilified and rejected as a potential manager by fans. Surely the performance at the World Cup has shown that England are just not that good and that qualification for major tournaments now has to be earned and not a god given right.

    With his track record of bringing through youth players (and based on a continual converbelt of talent that has seemingly came through the Villa academy in recent years) the Villa job would be a perfect fit for both McClaren and Villa.

    Also now with his knowledge of foreign leagues and presumably a list of contacts on the continent that would help with getting in the right foreign players to mix with the youth, surely he should be a more attractive proposition as a manager.

  • Comment number 62.

    Immediately i got the news that McLeish had resigned from his post, i had the thinking that he might have been met by Villa board and he's now hoping to move by crossing border...

    To me, he's likely to get the job. He's got the managerial skills to be in charge at the Villa Park owing to the fact that he won, while at Birmingham, the Carling cup against Arsenal- a great achievement you might say. But we must not also forget that he relegated this same team after a run of terrible form. Whatever will happen, the board must consider their fans.

    Meanwhile, Man Utd have completed the signing of Phil Jones from Blackburn. Congrats to the Jones, who signed a 5 year deal with the England Kings and to the rest of the United family including me, Sir Flo Pat. Haha

  • Comment number 63.

    @ chongmaster

    It is all speculation. A BBC journalist should have some integrity. Why didnt he try to contact Villa for a statement on his musings?

    Because Villa would say nothing. I don't think he was implying any wrong-doing, but there is still a lot of people thinking this is a possibility otherwise Birmingjam wouldn't have said anything regarding other clubs.

    Gut feeling is that IF AM does want to go to Villa, he will.

  • Comment number 64.

    Bad choice. His first relegation was not entirely his fault, but the second is. It was his squad after 4 years of building a side.

    He creates hard working sides built on a good defence. When he attempted to make the next step, he did by sacrificing his principles. He chased cup success and ultimately hoped the league situation would take care of itself which it never did.

    He brought in signings who were not the fit for him or the club. Bentley, Hleb, Martins were all flops. As was Nikolai Zigic who looked amongst the poorest front men i saw this season.

    He is a backs to the wall type manager, and will not work well with a club who is expecting success (outside of a two team league).

  • Comment number 65.

    There you go - hot off the press and not on the BBC pages yet !!!

    It is, just have a look for it on the right hand side ...

  • Comment number 66.

    There are only a hand full of teams in England financially equipped to win anything. Birmingham isn't one of them


    And yet they have just WON the CARLING CUP - try again

  • Comment number 67.

    Birmingham FC = Sleeping pill. Most boring team to watch in the EPL.

  • Comment number 68.

    #29That's exactly what I mean the "prols can do what they're told by their high & mighty overlords attitude.

    As for never letting you down why is Martin O'Neill no longer with Villa? Because he felt LET DOWN by the board. Houllier - health problems, bad choice and you already had a caretaker manager who was doing a good job and theer is no evidence that he couldn't have got Villa to their finishing place spending £24M on Darren Bent.

    Your precious chairman has done nothing but destabilise the club this season and rather than hunt around why not promote Gary McAllister who could well be a decent manager himself.

    The club is the fans in the end as if they stop going you will have problems. You forgot to add it may be Randy's money but it could also Randy's EGO.

  • Comment number 69.

    Birmingham FC = Sleeping pill. Most boring team to watch in the EPL.

    Thankfully ... they are not in the EPL.

    Their Facebook status has been updated to
    "Most boring team in the championship and manager-less"

  • Comment number 70.

    You must be happy with the number of replies.
    This will not happen, just more lazy journalism, according to the Mail on line McLeish is Villa bound, when do you and the press deal in FACTS.

    The facts have been listed by many before me, so I won't repeat them.

    Villa will tell you what is happening when it is a done deal, just like when we signed Bent. Didn't see you or the press reporting that before it happened.

    This Blog should be removed as it is pure conjecture on a subject that will not happen. As said before McLeish is still an employee of BCFC and Villa have not announced an approach.

  • Comment number 71.

    I still think it's a real shame the way Mclaren was and is to this day, treated over his time as England manager. Even now, journalists still say 'nightmare' etc etc. I think most of this is spin and is simply down to the media's hype. England missed out on qualification by one goal and that was after the freak goal at the start of the campaign in Croatia. Capello may have got England qualified the next time out but alot of that was on the back of the slightly fortuitous result in Croatia at the start of the campaign, fortuitous in that it seems to represent the only time Walcott has realised the potential that we keep being told he has.

    With that in mind, I just don't see why Mcleish would be (or is) any more popular a choice. What has HE done? Well, he came south of the border for the challenge (the challenge of making more money I reckon), got Brum relegated, promoted, had a safe season where they were defensively great but barely threatened the opponents net, won a cup and got them relegated again. And now he wants to jump ship with all the 'loyalty' of which most players would be castigated and hounded forever, in a way that Mclaren is not allowed to forget his worst hour.

    Anyway, now that I have got that bewilderment and unease at the situation off my chest, the rest of the article is pure conjecture until you can tell us about the 'link' to the vacant job? Or are you really just perpetuating the gossip that goes around?

    (And let's not forget the usual bits for a story like this, cue - black country, second city, midlands rivalry etc etc)

  • Comment number 72.

    Can a Villa fan tell me why McClaren would of been such a bad appointment?

    Yes he made some questionable decisions as England manager, but that job was a no win situation for him and I believe he wasn't ready to coach the national team at that point.

    He has since rebuilt his career and i actually believe him & Villa would be a good match. Villa's loss is Forest's gain IMO

  • Comment number 73.

    MrBlueBurns - slightly unnecessary dig at Walcott, but i agree with the rest of what you said about McClaren.

    Wasn't a good manager for England, but is a nice guy and didn't deserve the abuse he got.

  • Comment number 74.

    The point about Maclaren bring through youth is an Ok one but Gareth Southgate was more responsible for that than McLaren was which is why he is in his scurrent role at the FA. McLaren would have been a reasonable choice as he has won a league title in the last 2 years an FA cup and been in a European final which is more than any Villa manager has acheived in the same period

  • Comment number 75.

    Im not sure its M cLarens record with Eng that makes him so dislikeable. Ok it was poor, but so is the record of most Eng bosses post Ramsey. They all range from poor to average by and large. No, its his personality. His hilarious efforts at 'being Dutch' topped by his new dutch accent pale into insignificance when compared to his desire to be liked and one of the lads etc etc. His laughing and gaming with 'Wazza' and 'Stevie G' etc etc showed him to be a weak wet lettuce to be honest and ive not yet mentioned his Hollywood teeth crowns either!

    On the whole he s a pretty insipid chap, who s maybe cut out for a middling Championship Club and one with Forest's pedigree may be a bridge too far. Ill give him a Season, perhaps less.

  • Comment number 76.

    The Birmingham/Villa situation will become clear soon enough. But I think that Forest appointing McLaren is an excellent move. He took a not brilliant Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup Final and regular Premiership survival, and won the Eredivisie with what was not the best team in the division. Didn't set Germany alight with Wolfsburg but neither did he do a terrible job. McLaren and Forest both have the potential to be successful and I think they will be in the Premiership next season.

  • Comment number 77.


    Not sure Mr BB has been hard on Walcott at all. His career is essentially that England game and his goal creating run v Liverpool in the CL game 3 years ago that was lost by Arsenal. The rest has been humdrum and signed off by injury after injury.

  • Comment number 78.

    #73 chongmaster

    Wasn't a personal dig at Walcott but merely pragmatic on his contribution. If it was a dig at anyone it was at the press for the coverage Walcott's hat-trick got (this being the first competitive game post-Beckham as well) and the way Walcott seems to attract a lot of positive talk, though I still don't quite see what all the fuss is about.

    If they left him alone to get on with his job, it might be easier to judge him. However, since we are always being told what potential he has and then most times I see him he either runs (quickly) up blind alleys or vary rarely makes a telling pass, I'm usually left scratching my head.

    As BlameitonEboue says though, Villa's loss is most likely to be Forest's gain (at least in the short term cause surely Mclaren must see it as just a springboard - albeit a springboard that might eventually put around £90m+ in Forest's coffers).

  • Comment number 79.

    Although I think McClaren should certainly by now be allowed to move past his unfortunate spell as England Maanger, which was a no win situtation anyway, I think it's a bit disingenuous for fans of other clubs implying that McClaren would suit Villa. Chelsea still need a manager incidentally, were any fellow Chelsea fans upset that Forest beat us to his signature?

  • Comment number 80.


    On the one hand, you show complete common sense in post #77. ;-)

    On the other, your appraisal in #75 is as shallow as an evaporated puddle! :-0

  • Comment number 81.

    McClaren is nothing much. It could go well, it could go badly. It went well with Boro, badly with England, good with Twente, badly with Wolfsburg.

    Basically, wherever there are egos or expectation, he has failed. God knows what that means for Forrest, but it was good news for Villa to dodge him.

    Benitez is also a bad choice. Unless you're willing to waste lots of money on average players to get one good one. Failed at Liverpool (overall - a one off fluke, purely the result of his captain rather than his own tactics of playing the best centre player out on the right), failed at Inter, succeeded at Valencia playing attrocious football where there was no expectation.

    McLeash isn't right for them - Hughes has all the right talents, and maybe Lerner will give him time to build a team there. Other than that, you're really scratching around.

    As far as the blog, typical fare on a non-story.

  • Comment number 82.

    #79 the swashbuckler

    I'm a Chelsea fan but I've not implied that Mclaren would suit Villa. I think I'm really asking what is so bad about Mclaren that Villa fans wouldn't want him?

  • Comment number 83.

    Birmingham have rejected his resignation until compensation is agreed. They think he is off to Villa. If he isn't they will have a real problem as he could refuse to work and then they'll have to pay him to sit at home and do nothing. Be interesting to see what notice period is in his contract

  • Comment number 84.

    Villa fans need a reality check, they arent this big club they think they are. No manager seems to be good enough for them, that has been in the spotlight to take over.

  • Comment number 85.

    I cannot believe this is even seriously being considered, its utter madness for Villa to even consider him for many many of the reasons being pointed out on this board. Time to consider moving season ticket to a rugby team and save a fortune!

  • Comment number 86.

    Not sure Mr BB has been hard on Walcott at all. His career is essentially that England game and his goal creating run v Liverpool in the CL game 3 years ago that was lost by Arsenal. The rest has been humdrum and signed off by injury after injury.

    Not really, he scored 13 odd goals this season for Arsenal despite the injury, statistically outperforming the Deity himself from the other side of North London.

    You want overrated and a career defined by 1 game, look no further than Bale and his hat-trick against Inter, at least Walcott's hat-trick was meaningful.

    I admit he was overhyped, but that was mainly due to his age when he was signed. As a gooner, I have issues with other players which far exceed those of Walcott.

    He DID get overhyped by press and players after that hat-trick BUT that is hardly his fault. When he didn't get picked for the world cup, he was playing amazingly for Arsenal .... went for England duty and (surprise surprise) got injured again.

    If you'd be happy not to see him in and Engalnd shirt, so would I to be perfectly honest!

    MrBlueBurns .... I'd love your evaluation of Torres and how you think he'll do next year.

  • Comment number 87.

    Out of the two managerial stories of the day, you went with *this* one?

    I doubt McLeish will wind up at Villa, I can't see him being daft enough to cross city lines - anyone who does it is guaranteed to have their job made that much more difficult. A better option than McLaren mind.

    Think Forest will live to regret bringing him on board - things seem to go to his head, hence why his first act at becoming England boss was getting his teeth fixed rather than focussing on team matters. And the terrible Stevie G stuff. He's the Alan Partridge of football managers.

    Back to McLeish, it's disappointing he's resigned - he's a good manager, but - given how managers bemoan a lack of loyalty in the modern game - it's sad to see him follow in Hughes footsteps and exit a team that has continued to show faith in him.

    Be interesting to see where the current managerial merry-go-round stops, Billy Davies is a good manager and I have to wonder who'll snap him up.

  • Comment number 88.

    A manager that has struggled to keep Wigan in the Premiership. A lost cause who just walked into the vacancy at Forest and now a manager who played yo yo with the saddest side in the West Midlands, Blues.
    Either Randy Lerner is or has lost the plot or the media, so desperate for news from Villa, has lost it.
    Whilst I have serious misgivings about the usefulness of a bloke who didn't cover himself in glory as a manager at a credit card company, who has no real love for football or the Villa, I do live in hope that Lerner who does know his football and his Aston Villa will make the right choice.
    That choice I'd hope does not involve these lame suggestions by an out of the loop, Midlands and National Media, who plainly do not have a clue, Lerner is making sure of that seemingly.
    Where he is failing is the time he's taking to sort out Houllier's replacement. Perhaps if he took time out from flying around the world and spoke to Steve Stride on how this should have been done, and to Graham Taylor, one of the few media people who is talking sense, the problem would never have arisen and have been solved ages back.

  • Comment number 89.

    #86 chongmaster

    MrBlueBurns .... I'd love your evaluation of Torres and how you think he'll do next year.
    If it was relevant to the vacant Villa job, Mcleish's time as a manager and Mclaren's time as England manager, you'd get such an evaluation.

    But's it's not even close to being relevant! :-)

  • Comment number 90.

    #81 - let me guess, you're a United supporter that is still upset with Rafa for exposing a few home truths about Ferguson during that infamous press conference? Why else would you claim he would be a bad choice to manage Villa, who would be punching well above their weight if they could bring him in? And to say his Valencia team played 'atrocious football' is an outright lie or a claim based on ignorance or bias. His Valencia team played some fantastic football and they have been going downhill since he left.

  • Comment number 91.

    MrBlueBurns .... I'd love your evaluation of Torres and how you think he'll do next year.
    If it was relevant to the vacant Villa job, Mcleish's time as a manager and Mclaren's time as England manager, you'd get such an evaluation.

    But's it's not even close to being relevant! :-)

    Hahaha, I'm guessing not too positive, ok - I'll give you that one (nice answer by the way .... are you a politician?)

  • Comment number 92.

    #82, MrBlueBurns

    I wasn't referring to you specifically, but you are talking semantics really. The fact is I wouldn't want him as my club, so I shouldn't expect fans of another club in the PL (even one with lower aspirations) to want him. They still see and hear all the same things I do and have surely followed the man's career enough to know is not quite good enough to manage a PL team that has any intent other than fighting relegation.

  • Comment number 93.

    i assume all those crowing about McCliesh's exploits in the CC have now had to rethink

    the euphoria of gloating was short lived now BC as i predicted, are now relegated and thier manager wants to walk in order to keep himself in a spotlight.

    as the owners have said they want to bring some " disipline " to matters.

    BC and its surporters may well be enjoying the CC and have a few bragging rights

    how much can u actually get for the CC 60MIL??

    sell it and in so doing so ensure your survival ( smirks )

  • Comment number 94.

    I would be amazed if this 'cross city' move happens. Lerner saw how angered Villa fans were when linked with Steve McClaren, but surely he must have known this 'potential appointment' would infuriate both sets of supporters.

    I am not a McLeish fan, but if this move does come off, you have to find the positives. He made a coup in having Joe Hart on loan in 09/10, bought in Dann, Johnson, Foster (for 10/11), Gardner, 4 good players, defensively strong, took Blues to to 9th that season in their first season back since relegation in 07/08 then won the Cup this season. If it wasn't for injuries, and more potency in front of goal, no doubt Blues would have stayed up this year.

    Hopefully common sense prevails, Villa won't appoint him, even though we haven't actually made an approach, and this managerial merry go round at both clubs ends soon.

  • Comment number 95.

    #91 chongmaster

    You're mistake, my right honourable fiend (freudian), was to attempt to defend Walcott by way of a thinly veiled attack on my impartiality through the prism of Torres' performances.

    You must wake up earlier in the morning to catch me out like that! :-)

  • Comment number 96.

    BC?????????? and Mcliesh?

    as a gooner im laughing my head off.

  • Comment number 97.

    #92 the swashbuckler

    Semantic's? I don't know much about Mclaren personally, and nor am I that interested, but I would imagine there is a good deal more valuable experience on his CV than many people who are currently available.

  • Comment number 98.

    What comes around goes around. Alex McLeish is a good manager who has decided he will be better served elsewhere. The fact that Birmingham want to hold him to his contract is 'petty', the description used by Birmingham when Palace wanted to hold Steve Bruce to his contract.

    I guess it makes Roberto Martinez's decision all the more remarkable and admirable.

  • Comment number 99.

    "When one of the best managers in the world (O'Neil) quits over club policy you know there is something wrong."

    Then you look at how much the club bankrolled Houlier...

    The policy changed because O'Neill refused to change his policies, so much so he resigned. Once a manager was installed who wasn't O'Neill, the funds became available again.

    As for being one of the best managers in the world, that's highly debatable. He did a great job when he came to Villa, but at the end, he wanted more and more money to spend on players who were probably never going to get into his static starting XI...

  • Comment number 100.

    By semantics I meant that not suiting versus not wanting are essentially the same in this context. Agreed that on paper he is no worse than many other options, but he's damaged goods in most fans eyes and I could't see him lasting long through any rough patches. And to a previous poster's point there is something about his personality that seems to annoy and invite comtempt. I wouldn't touch him with a barge pole. Anyway, Ancellotti would surely give up his vacation if the the price was right?


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