Aston Villa appoint Alex McLeish as manager

Aston Villa fans protesting

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Villa fans protest against McLeish

Aston Villa have appointed Alex McLeish as their new manager on a three-year contract with immediate effect.

The prospect of the 52-year-old former Birmingham City boss - who resigned on Sunday - joining city rivals Villa had led to fan protests outside Villa Park.

But McLeish said: "I am honoured to have this opportunity to manage a club with such a fantastic history.

"The heritage, the history of success and the tradition of Aston Villa are compelling and irresistible."

The Scot, who began his managerial career in 1994, has previously taken charge of Motherwell, Hibernian, Rangers, and also the Scottish national side before he made the move south of the border with Birmingham.

Despite a series of trophy wins with Rangers and his League Cup victory with the Blues in February, McLeish is keen to make new history at Villa Park.

"The challenge for me is to try to add my own chapter," he said.

"Since first becoming a manager at Motherwell, my desire to succeed and my energy and drive have never waned. My objective is to impart that drive and will to win to the players and fans of Aston Villa.

"I know that some of our fans have voiced concerns and I can understand why. It will be up to me to convince you that I am the right man to drive the club forward and I intend to give absolutely everything to prove that I can be a success at the club."

Birmingham are pursuing a compensation claim against Villa's approach of their former manager.

The Blues had initially demanded £5.4m to cover the remaining two-and-a-quarter years of McLeish's contract, and also released a statement, accusing their neighbours of "tapping up" McLeish.

The Scot's appointment has not been met with approval from some Villa supporters, after 500 fans gathered outside Villa Park on Wednesday to protest.

Despite the controversy, Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Aston Villa, said: "We believe we have appointed the right man for the job.

Sol Campbell

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Life will be difficult for McLeish - Campbell

"Unquestionably, Alex meets the criteria we set out at the beginning of our search which was based on proven Premier League experience, leadership, a hard-working ethic and, most importantly, a shared vision for Aston Villa.

"Alex is someone with whom we will work closely and work well together.

"With our strong squad combining the necessary virtues of experience and the exciting potential of our young players, our objective is to compete as strongly as we possibly can.

"Alex's vast experience and proven abilities demonstrate clearly that he is a strong leader and an ambitious man and we are looking forward very much to the exciting new season about to start," Faulkner added.

Prior to McLeish's appointment, Villa had been without a permanent boss since the end of April when Gerard Houllier suffered ill health.

On 10 June, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez turned down the chance to manage the club, having been given permission to talk to the Midlands outfit.

Steve McClaren, now in charge at Nottingham Forest, and former Fulham boss Mark Hughes are two others who had been linked with the position.

McLeish now becomes Villa's third full-time manager in nine months after Houllier and Martin O'Neill - who resigned just five days before the 2010/2011 campaign began.