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McLeish vows to win over the doubters at Villa

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Phil McNulty | 23:07 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

Alex McLeish started the long fight for acceptance at Aston Villa alone as the club's hierarchy left their new manager on his own to face the fall-out from the close season's most contentious managerial move.

In a subdued affair stripped of the fanfare and relentlessly upbeat messages associated with such occasions, McLeish cut the figure of a man relieved to get the introductions out of the way rather than revel in his move across the second city from Birmingham City to Aston Villa.

And he did it without the presence of Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner at his side as they kept their distance from the formalities rather than provide support for the besieged Scot.

Lerner is notoriously publicity-shy but if there was one occasion for either the American or Faulkner to front up and put the case for appointing McLeish to a suspicious, and in some cases openly hostile, Villa fanbase and explain the tortuous process to uncovering Gerard Houllier's successor then this was surely it.

Alex McLeish is unveiled at the new manager of Aston Villa.

After all the headlines, McLeish is keen to start work at Villa. Photo: Reuters

Instead McLeish, with only Villa's media man for company, was left to deliver a straight bat defence to a sustained and inevitable inquisition about the mechanics of his move from Birmingham, citing legal reasons for his unwillingness to go into fine detail.

McLeish's official presentation as manager was made at the club's luxurious Bodymoor Heath training complex rather than at Villa Park because of preparations for a forthcoming Take That concert, so it was inevitable that there were several requests for Patience as he tries to win over his many detractors.

And there was even a sense that perhaps the Corsican sunshine he was enjoying when whispers of this move emerged had shielded McLeish from the strength of feeling stirred by his arrival at Villa so soon after quitting Birmingham via e-mail.

At times McLeish looked puzzled as he fielded understandable questions about increasing his personal security and whether he would have to curb his social activities to keep beneath the radar of high feelings fuelled by his decision.

He occasionally appeared to be struggling to comprehend the storm that had been swirling around his name since talk of this unique move from one Birmingham club to the other moved closer to reality.

It was a surreal experience for many of the media who tracked the highs and lows of his Birmingham career to face him wearing his claret and blue Villa tie and holding up the shirt of the club that was his fiercest rival only a fortnight ago.

McLeish tried to laugh off any potential threats to his safety as he said: "I haven't really thought about it. I would hope that even though the fans are passionate and those passions run high they don't take it to the extreme. Although I suppose some people might like to give me a punch, although I've got a bit of a glass jaw."

It is always handy to carry a Bill Shankly quote to use in emergencies - and McLeish had one standing by as he tried to defuse tensions created in the city by saying: "I really would ask people not to take it to extremes. Shankly once said 'football isn't a matter of life and death - it's much more important than that' but I'm sure he had his tongue in his cheek."

McLeish has noted the protests outside Villa Park and the unflattering slogans daubed at Bodymoor Heath and said: "Am I fazed by it? Does it depress me? It's disappointing but I've got to win these guys over and hopefully in a year's time we will be having a different press conference. The bottom line is that I have got to get results. They are the key to everything.

"It's not easy to watch it and say 'I'm loving that' but I have taken criticism before. I have had a tough time when I was manager at Rangers when I got it in the neck up there and it doesn't get much tougher than that."

I asked McLeish whether the controversy and unrest that has provided the backdrop to his appointment had diluted what should have been delight at joining a club of such stature and history in Villa.

He said: "I'm not saying I'm totally immune to what is going on or that I don't have feelings or that this is all water off a duck's back, but this day [starting work] has been a long time coming and at last I'm starting to feel there is a bit of momentum. It would be great just to walk out from a club and shake everybody's hands but it's not like that."

And McLeish also hinted at events that may make him even less popular at Birmingham when he suggested ill feeling would not be a barrier to attempts to return to his old club for players, insisting: "If I thought a player could improve Aston Villa then why not?"

It was a show of the mental strength he will need and he revealed his old mentor Sir Alex Ferguson had given his seal of approval when McLeish rang to thank him for supportive words. "He told me that Aston Villa is a big, big club so I think that sounds like an endorsement."

McLeish can now at least try to make football his priority, with attempts to keep Stewart Downing at the top of his agenda as he effectively admitted the fight to keep Ashley Young was lost, with the England winger expected to complete a move to Manchester United when he returns from holiday.

He said: "This has just got to be one of the biggest challenges of my life. I want to test myself as a human being and as a football manager."

And in taking over at Aston Villa only a matter of days after quitting Birmingham, he is about to do just that.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I wouldn't put up with this if I was a Birmingham/Villa fan

  • Comment number 2.

    i dont think Villa has done all that bad in getting Mcleish. he didnt really have the attack he would have wanted at Birmingham yet he still managed to win silverware. Imagine what he might be capable of doing with a better strike force. Give the man a chance Villa or you may have a slice of Humble pie before you know it.

    Also Phil: Take That concert, so it was inevitable that there were several requests for Patience

    Poor joke you comedian!

  • Comment number 3.

    i have been watching this debacle with great interest and amusement. At least when we are football starved during the lean months of the summer, we have entertainment such as this to keep us occupied.

    I think it is fairly obvious to everybody that Alex Mcleish was tapped up by villa. To suggest anything else would be insulting our intelligence.

    I hope he does well, since he sound like a nice person who gives fair commenst in his post match interviews, but i dont honestly see him taking villa forwards. unfortunately villa went as far as possible under the stewardship of MON. These days a lot of cash is needed to break into the top 4.

  • Comment number 4.

    He has won a cup but I still don't rate the guy.

    Anyone that walks out on their country to manage a club has absolute zero loyalty. If he does well at Villa then he will jump ship as soon as a bigger club comes calling, he has proven that already.

  • Comment number 5.

    Firstly, Phil, your blogs are getting a lot better, so congrats to you.

    As per the present blog, I sort of agree with 'No Na SLB'. Although I'm not a birmingham or villa fan, and only know one seriously devoted villa fan, I'd like to add the caveat that I think after one season with Mcleish, results depending, I think the controversy will die down some what. This is a high risk recruitment which can go either way - needless to say. Under O'neil Villa stagnated, and under Houllier, it was a disappointment. McLeish hails from the yoke of the likes of Ferguson et al., and his disapline and tutalege should - in theory - bode well for villa, albeit, this appointment should require time as there Villa are an imbalanced squad. That said, I think that under the correct stewardship, talent and quality could be found.

    As for Birmingham, I'd be a highly disgruntled fan. This whole saga hasn't been handled in the greatest, diplomatic fashion by Villa and McLeish. Having said that, I think Birmingham had a successful season despite their subsequent relegation. The course of the League Cup proved to be too much for them vis-a-vis the League on its own. As a Cardiff supporter, I would valye winning any silverware above staying as a 'propping-up' team in the premier league. By that, I don't mean any disrespect to either team - as Villa seem to be the same, albeit of a debatably larger stature - but, Birmingham were not going to rise much more in the PL without further investment and an overhaul of the squad. At least the Blues can claim they've won something recently, when compared to other teams who have lasted a long time in the PL without winning anything at all. I hope the Blues' fans will appreciate the successes of recent years, and progress upon that. I guess I direct my criticism at the monotomy of the PL with regards to the championship.

    Nevertheless, I hand great respec to both teams, and good luck to them on their ventures! Naturally, for the banter, I'd be vying for the Blues than Villa, re: the aforementioned Villa friend!

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree, he needs to be given a chance, as has been said above, he won silverware with a squad incredibly short of attacking options, he didnt have time to turn around blues' relegation the first time round, got them promoted at the first time of asking, with a fully fit squad took them to 9th in their first season (still with limited attackers) and then injuries to key players proved to be their downfall, i believe with the resourses he can be a huge success for us, a solid top 10 finish will quieten the fans (hopefully avoid any flirtation with the relegation places) and then we can press on from there and challenge for Europa again.

    Another point i'd like to get across is this. After approachin several managers (Ancelotti, Hughes, Mclaren, Moyes, Martinez and Benitez) - anybody else that Lerner had gone to would've known they weren't first choice for us. Lerner appeared quite eager to go with Mcleish once he'd "resigned", i think there was an element of last chance saloon in the decision making process regarding Mcleish but despite his history with Blues i think he'll prove to be a success with us. Time will tell

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    "If I thought a player could improve Aston Villa then why not?"

    Mr McLeish is either extremely naive (unlikely) or he's taking the pee. After the way he upset his previous masters, I'd say there was zero chance of them letting any players follow him across the city. Well, not unless he pays way over the odds for them.

  • Comment number 9.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but McLeish has quit all his managerial posts; loyalty is obviously not his strong point.

    Given that he won us a trophy after so many years of agony, I would have forgiven him even going to Villa had it not been all this rubbish about "constructive dismissal", which is nothing more than a way for him to avoid being put on gardening leave for a few months and an (potentially criminally fraudulent) attempt to save his new employers a few million in not having to pay compensation to the Blues. Nice way to say thank you to the club that gave him a chance in England and made him rich (I'm sure he wasn't poor before, but still...). And not a word for the Blues fans, as if they don't matter in all this.

    Then the LMA defends his resignation by saying that his position became untenable because Pannu made public details of his contract. But that was AFTER he had resigned! e-mail, the gentleman that he is.

  • Comment number 10.


    Just want to thank you for some good blogs lately. Was getting a bit frustrated with another season of indulging in Manchester United and Wayne Rooney. Great to see some articles on other clubs. I hope this continues throughout next season.


  • Comment number 11.

    And BIG transfer window coming up for villa - they'll have a bit of money to spend but they'll be down Young and Downing (although this will obviously result in more money to spend)

    But the top four are buying enough players for three teams - not sure what players a team like villa can get to push on... McLeish has his work cut out.

    I'd take Johnny Evans at CB but I think he's needed in case Vidic, Ferdinand, O Shea, Smalling, Brown and Jones get injured!

    On a serious note, no idea who Villa could sign to improve things. Even Charlie Adam seems out of our reach.

    Any ideas anyone?

  • Comment number 12.

    What did he actually say about Ashley Young and Downing? I think Villa need to keep one of them.

  • Comment number 13.

    A good manager, but I don't think he suits Villa. Not just beacuse of Birmingham, but his style of play too. Holloway seemed like the perfect option imo, but was hardly mentioned, He deserves a go at a 'big' club. Just seems like Aston Villa have the correct players and formation to play in Holloway's style.....if he went, there also could've been a strong possibility Adam would follow. Adam could've formed a pretty good midfield with Makoun and the forgottan man Stephen Ireland!

  • Comment number 14.

    Strange that neither Lerner nor Faulkner saw fit to put in an appearance at the official unveiling of The Big Eck, leaving him to face the flak and the probing questions from the media folk, all on his own. No doubt both had their reasons, quite possibly valid one's at that. In their absence it has to be said, McLeish handled himself well, and hopefully managed to win over some of the Birmingham B6 boo-boys.

    The protests have been made, now is the time for all Villans to rally behind the claret and blue cause, for without us all pulling in the right direction, season 2011-12 could be a very sticky one indeed.

    In reply to posters 11 and 12, have no fear, Stewart Downing is going nowhere this summer. Ashley Young will indeed be missed, but as one door closes, another opens for young Marc Albrighton, giving him the opportunity to step up to the plate, and prove that he has what it takes, to perform week in and week out, on the premier league stage.

    McLeish is I believe a very good appointment, and hopefully come the turn of the year, all of this anti-Big Eck nonsense will be a thing of the past, and he can be judged not on his time across the city at St Andrews, but at the performances and results he is achieving at the home of Birmingham's finest.

  • Comment number 15.

    McLeish has no credibility, class or credentials. He is fresh from relegating Birmingham (twice), resigns from a top-flight club by email and has won one league cup. Big Deal. The problem lies not with McLeish however, but Villa's board, especially the tight fisted Lerner, who, for a bargain, is willing to appoint the wrong man for the job. Villa needed the 40 million to spend when we had the likes of Barry, Milner and co. to strengthen the squad and challenge for the premiership and Europe. All the 40 million is going to do now is stave off relegation next season.

  • Comment number 16.

    British managers, just like British players, are overrated and of no value. This one has got himself a brand new job after sinking his old employer just across the road. Hope that he sinks his new employer too.
    Phil, I expected you to meter out similar treatment to Hughes and Mcleish to what you do when one of these is sacked by a foreign club owner. But, as expected, nope. They can behave as they like, of course.

  • Comment number 17.

    As a Saints fan, I had to live with the movement of Harry Redknapp from Portsmouth. I could live with that - everyone had a sense that he had chosen Saints over Pompey, which is the view I think should be taken by the Villa fans. What the real problem here was that Redknapp relegated us and then went back to Pompey, a relegation we have not yet recovered from. Just hope that doesn't happen...

  • Comment number 18.

    "15. At 05:41 21st Jun 2011, Villa_Mike wrote:
    McLeish has no credibility, class or credentials. He is fresh from relegating Birmingham (twice), resigns from a top-flight club by email and has won one league cup. Big Deal. "

    No, Big 'Eck :-)

  • Comment number 19.

    "16.At 06:08 21st Jun 2011, fabulousRedsReds wrote:
    British managers, just like British players, are overrated and of no value."

    Yeah, that Alex Ferguson is rubbish, isn't he? I mean, what has he ever achieved?

  • Comment number 20.

    He said: "This has just got to be one of the biggest challenges of my life. I want to test myself as a human being and as a football manager."

    So McLeish doesn't think he was tested as a football manager before. Interesting. I think he was. His ability and truthfulness and loyalty was tested very recently.

    His ability guided Birmingham down. He dodged questions about why he left Birmingham, when he could have been honest, but chose to hide behind possible legalities. (I suspect that had he been honest, he may have been sued). As for loyalty, he wants Stewart Downing to be loyal to Villa. How can a disloyal manager possible convince someone else in the same profession to be loyal when they have just displayed disloyalty?

    That said, why does he just not be honest and say that he preferred to manage in the Premier League? No-one could really blame him for that. But honesty (and loyalty) does not fit with modern football. Every time I hear a player starting an answer with "To be honest....." I know and you know we will hear spin and untruths.

  • Comment number 21.

    Football is so boring and predictable now I can't summon the enthusiasm to be "outraged" at this appointment any more.
    The only thing that matters in the premier League is money. Money begets Champions (and anyone down to fourth) League inclusion which creates more money.
    My team (Villa) will never make it unless Man Citeh's Sheik's have relatives as rich willing to throw their money away on us.

    I am wholey sick of players wanting to move because they want to "play in the Champions League"! The increase in wages and slice of the transfer fee have nothing to do with it I suppose?

    Slightly off topic but I think what I'm trying to say is it doesn't matter who the manager of Villa is we aren't getting in the Champions (and anyone down to fourth) League so give the man some time. At least he wants to be here!

  • Comment number 22.

    There's a disturbing lack of humility - almost a lack of humanity - in Big 'Eck's approach to this whole thing. He doesn't seem to understand more than the smallest part of the objections that people have to what he's done - people of all sides. He may well be right that if he gets results everything else will be forgotten - but unless those results are exceptional, he'll find out that other things DO matter, and acting as he does has consequences. I don't mean Karmic consequences, but practical ones. People won't forget how this whole thing happened - and if anything goes other than perfectly, they'll remind him. Often. Loudly. And, what's more, he'll deserve the attacks....

  • Comment number 23.

    McLeish's aim next season will be to get Villa into the Europa League via Premier League or the Domestic cups. I'm keen to see the transfers in and out of Villa Park as well as treatment meted out to him by Villa fans in the first weeks of the new season

  • Comment number 24.

    If Mcleish is to have any chance of success then Villa better get off to a good start.

    If they start poorly, then the Villa fans will slaughter him.

    I wonder what odds the bookies have of him being sacked before the new year...

  • Comment number 25.

    Makes me larf. Aston Villa fans, don't want McClaren, make a really big fuss, and get McLeish instead. The old adage 'be careful what you wish for ...' comes to mind!

    Actually, I think McLeish is a very good manager and is ideal in many ways ... Glasgow Rangers are a BIG club in Scotland, far bigger than Villa are in England, so I doubt a few forum fanatics will unduly worry him, especially as I doubt that he lives that close to the area.

    Villa fans need to take a look at Forest (a club that's won twice as many European Cups), and where McClaren has gone, to see what can happen to a 'Big' club that lives too long off its former glories ...

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't think BCFC will let AM off the hook, and probably AVFC will be walking fire with him for the time to come. AM might not have put his thoughts on it yet but when the time comes he may have to spend more time talking to his lawyers than talking to his players. I cannot understand Lerner but it is quite a contemptuous try on human nature.

  • Comment number 27.

    @21 Are you telling me if you were a player you wouldnt want to play at the highest level?! Yes money has something to do with it. But it is like that in any profession in the world. If you are in a job and someone is offering you a job at a 'big and better' company doing the same thing, but with better opporunites in a diffferent 'office' you will most likely go....its natural.

  • Comment number 28.

    Morning thriftythriller On Downing he didn't sound super-confident but said: "He's a top player with a couple of years left on his contract and it's very important we hold on to him."

    On Young, I think you can forget that one as he said it looks like he is going to leave, which he will.

    Can I get the thoughts of Villa and Birmingham fans on what they saw yesterday? Are Villa fans feeling better towards this appointment after what they saw and heard yesterday?

  • Comment number 29.

    So what's the latest news on Birmingham's case for compensation? Or has everyone forgot that already?.. I think it's a joke that managers can simply tear up their contract when it suits! Players cant do that to get a free move to another club so why should it be different for a manager? Afterall they are both just staff employed by the club..

    All that said, I think it's a good signing by Villa. Houllier was a complete mistake with not the best of records, being out of management for a while and the risk of health problems; it was never going to work out! McLeish is a good man manager and a very stable tactician who probably lacked the attacking threats at Birmingham which has earned him the image of a defensive minded coach, which is unfair!

    If he can keep hold of most of the attacking threats at Villa (Bent, Downing, Albrighton, Agbonlahor ect.) I think we'll see the best of McLiesh.. I'd say it's a shame to see them lose Young but i'm a United fan so it's not a shame!

    Wish him all the best as I liked Villa under O'Neill and hope they can get back to those days of challenging the bigger clubs.

  • Comment number 30.

    22.At 08:24 21st Jun 2011, Wolf Grylls wrote:
    There's a disturbing lack of humility - almost a lack of humanity - in Big 'Eck's approach to this whole thing. He doesn't seem to understand more than the smallest part of the objections that people have to what he's done - people of all sides. He may well be right that if he gets results everything else will be forgotten - but unless those results are exceptional, he'll find out that other things DO matter, and acting as he does has consequences. I don't mean Karmic consequences, but practical ones. People won't forget how this whole thing happened - and if anything goes other than perfectly, they'll remind him. Often. Loudly. And, what's more, he'll deserve the attacks....

    Completely agree!

  • Comment number 31.

    I’m a Villa season ticket holder and was ashamed of the protest. All this does is make my beloved Villa look like a small club. A comment used by Big Eck to describe Small Heath during his tenure.
    We are a big club and 40m investment is required to give Alex a sporting chance. All of the fans need to get behind him now as what’s done is done. Hopefully we will see another Blog from Phil in a few months looking back at the furore in bewilderment

  • Comment number 32.

    1.At 23:35 20th Jun 2011, No Na SLB wrote:
    I wouldn't put up with this if I was a Birmingham/Villa fan

    And most Villa and Birmingham fans would be impressed by this comment from you? Numpty!

    Villa Mike (15) get a life or use your £40M you have in your bank to help out - oh not got that much oh well back to the terraces - IF you go at all!

    arsenalforlife wrote: I think it is fairly obvious to everybody that Alex Mcleish was tapped up by villa. To suggest anything else would be insulting our intelligence. PROVE IT OR SHUT YOUR MOUTH as this is liable and of course Birmingham need to also prove this

    AM resigned so what - it was that or get pushed so he did the right thing, he crossed over to the "dark side" by going to Villa from Birmingham - players do it all the time (at least 3 from Villa last season?) but they were not villified and at least one manager so where is the problem??

    Contracts can be torn up and a manager can be dismissed with immediate effect - the pressure was on him more so with Brum from the final whistle when they were relegated with the back up as champions or else "but your about to lose most of you best players" syndrome from Pannu - best move ever.

    AM will most probably have one season to prove himself and he has to otherwise (as some have already stated) he will be slaughtered but then so will RL and PF - would another sheik come in and takeover and put a few hundred million in like MCFC - would be nice but santa only comes once a year

  • Comment number 33.

    In one season - under the woeful Houllier - Villa moved from challenging for Europe to also-rans in the "Relegation League".

    Under McLeish, they probably won't face relegation. But scrappy football and a battle to finish in the top 10 or 12 is now as much as Villa fans can expect.

    What is now apparent to everyone is :

    i Lerner is not the kind of man to admit a mistake.

    ii. Lerner has lost (serious) interest in the club.

    With McLeish he's probably secured Villa's spot in the PL. (Which was in danger under Houllier).

    Having done that, Lerner now needs to sell up and move on.

  • Comment number 34.

    Wow chriswiltshire (32) you're a bit of an idiot aren't you? Calm down, it's just a blog no need to get so hostile.

  • Comment number 35.

    one of the most important issues here is will he give the Villa fans the kind of football they want and in doing so the results as well?......I fear take over at a big club is hard at the best of times but with the Villa faithfull ready to voice their opinion at every wrong judgement or defeat i think McLeish has made a wrong move in going to Villa.....Every decision he makes will be under the spotlight.......Will he get the Villa fans on side?..........time will tell....i think he`ll be gone by Christmas....

  • Comment number 36.

    you do realise you have not mentioned Liverpool or Chelsea for at least a week!

  • Comment number 37.

    Tend to agree with poster 33.

    It was a strange appointment by Lerner, and you have to question whether his heart remains involved in the future of AVFC. The club is completely lacking leadership of any sort, and while the VP hierarchy are perfectly entitled to make the appointments and decisions that they do, an explanation as to how they arrived at Alex McLeish as the man to move the club forward, would certainly be received with great interest by all Villans.

    Personally I believe that he'll do a very decent job at Brum B6. He'll have the tools to work with, tools that were denied him at St Andrews.

    The fact that he took Blues down is irrelevant to me. Ron Saunders took the Blues down also. Does that make Ron Saunders a bad manager?

  • Comment number 38.

    3 blogs of same relation? i hate end of the season.

    my wife left me due to my obsession with the monkees, i thought she was joking.

    until i saw her face...

  • Comment number 39.

    31.At 09:20 21st Jun 2011, SSP wrote:
    I’m a Villa season ticket holder and was ashamed of the protest. All this does is make my beloved Villa look like a small club.


    What makes you look like a small and small-minded club is petty things like refusing to call BCFC Birmingham City and trying to demean them by using a name they haven't been called by since 1905

  • Comment number 40.

    As a Birmingham fan, this has been an awful month or so and Mcleish has been at the heart of it all. We were relegated under his watch and then he was tapped up by Villa.

    However I want to say that I don't blame him for any of this. He is a good manager and I will be forever grateful for the Carling Cup victory.

    Also from a purely objective position (which believe me is not easy...) he made the right move going to Villa, especially considering the incompetence surrounding our board.

    The only thing is that he has done all of this without one word of apology to the fans, which in my books is wrong. The very least we deserve is a few words.

    Good man, good manager, but not good enough this time.

  • Comment number 41.



  • Comment number 42.

    As a life long Birmingham City fan, the very thought of Alex McLeish going across the road to Aston Villa makes me ill to my boots: as much as I like the guy, and the fact that he bring in silverware in the League Cup, nevertheless this act of treachery is quite unforgivable. No wonder that some Blues and Villa fans are after his blood: media types who were not brought up in the city cannot conceive just how much bad feeling there is between the two clubs.

    I just hope that the Vile get relegated, the big Eck gets the sack, and the glorious Blues return to Premiere Division straightaway under manager Gianfranco Zola.

  • Comment number 43.

    Well if this blog is about what the Blues fans thought of his interview and some other events then here goes :)

    From his interviews for Blues when he was manager he seemed more confident. I think underneath he is a bit rattled.

    He has 3 main pressures following him.

    1st. He has to prove quite quickly to the fans (not the board) that he has learned from his mistakes at Birmingham. True Villa have a better squad and more money to invest. And he has openly said that everything is fantastic and irresistible at AVFC. So he has none of his usual excuses if he fails. That will add some extra pressure. He has accepted a club that is in relatively good health. The footballing pressure of the EPl is no joke for any team, but while some Villa fans will support him, i can see as soon as few home games don't go his way the fans will get on his back. As soon as this happens its the start of the end and the fans will pressure the players also, and thats when teams lose games.

    2. Pressure will be coming from Pannu and the legal side of things. Pannu an ex cop and barristers surely knows how to build a case against someone, he did fairly well against Gold and Sullivan and i am sure he is confident he can prove that Villa tapped AM up. Obviously this will be another burden on him and will affect his moral. Its ok to go to Rangers and play in a league with 80% of the teams not anywhere the level of the the top 2 clubs in Scotland. The EPL is different and even our top 4 have to usually play to their best to get results. Its not an attack on the SPL, but just a fact the Prem has more quality. So week in week out AM faces very tough games.

    It seems at least while looking from the outside and doing some reading between the lines that AM was tapped up. Pannu must have some evidence as they seem very confident at this time to pursue and win.

    3. Personal safety. According to the papers both him and his family have been threatened. That must weigh on his mind massively, and even in his interview he seemed to hope nobody will take it that far. I doubt anyone will, most people just shout and insult but it stays only in words. But you still never know, and if him or his family get spooked then it will also affect him and how he manages a club.

    I think AM really has his work cut out. Villa are a depleted squad to what they was 2-3 years ago. He needs to bring some more players in. He was unlucky with some important transfers with Blues with the likes of Pavlo and Nzogbia, for which if he did get them i am sure Blues would have survived. But at Villa i think alot of players may avoid AM simply because of his playing style and fear about appointing a manager under these conditions.

    AM has without a doubt a very very difficult job, and while he says that he is thick skinned, i think the EPL is to big for him in this kind of Challenge. I think everything by Xmas would have taken its toll and Mcleish will be out.

    And his loyalty is gonna be tested, he pretty much has walked out of any job that he he has been in to further his career. If he is such a top manager he wont do this, and i feel that if he gets found out for being tapped up, losing the fans with poor results and ugly football then he may have his name tarnished for a few years and will only get his chances either back in Scotland or the Championship. But i think his ego is to big and would probably end up managing the Indonesian national team.

    So AM Peter withe was your idol, i am sure he can give you some good advise on life out in Asia.

  • Comment number 44.

    As a neutral, I just don't understand why you'd appoint the manager of your arch rivals, who's just been relegated, who's even mention of being a possible manager triggered a large protest and who's entire playing style and history is completely different to the man they previously offered the job too. I then don't understand why when introducing him to the media, no senior figures would be there with him??

    I just can't see Villa keeping young nor possibly downing after this and i'm not sure he'll last the season

  • Comment number 45.

    People are going to be ready to pounce if Villa so much as lose two games in a row. It's a very big challenge indeed, and I don't know if McLeish still actually realises 100% how big.

  • Comment number 46.

    They will always be Small Heath

  • Comment number 47.

    @ 40

    How is going to Villa a good move. Its the worst thing ever. Ok we have to control our emotions because he has gone to the Villa, while i think speaking to my mates most Blues fans think that its funny, let Villa him and lets watch Villa fall to pieces.

    But even if you see it from some sort of objective stance, i still ant see the logic. Every city has its local Rivarly, and i dont think its a good move for any City to do it. And Blues Villa are one of the more agressive ones. Just look what happened right in front of his eyes when Blues beat Villa in the CC, pitch invasions, fights flares, ripping up of seats and was lableled as going back to medieval times. I was there, quite along way off from the trouble, but still you could feel the hate. There is alot of hate amongst some fans, me i love to hate Villa but only to point of SOTV and a bit of banter, but there are certainly some headcases with very few brain cells. BUt still i think the worst would happen to Mcleish is that someone may run on the pitch and throw a rotten egg at him.

    So why would the FA want this type of appointment. England has enough of football related trouble, and still to this day i am hestitant to take my kids to football matches, and they also dont like the swearing.

    So is it good for the City and the game.

    Blues fans in fact are more calm about it, but if the Villa start losing then we are gonna laugh at Villa more and more and they are gonna get madder and madder.

    Its just a bad move on every angle, i just see no sense in this, the only ones who profit from this are the Media who watch from a distance.

    Even this Blog could be inflame some sentiments, but i think the BBC posters are mostly football fans, apart from a few Old Firm history lessons in religion and politics ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    Wonder if I'll get the same stick if I move from the NHS to BUPA?

    Can't see why it's a problem he's moved to Villa because he used to be Birmingham's manager. I'd see it more of a problem because he's not very good and Villa are supposed to be a big club.

  • Comment number 49.


    He doesn't know how big it is, and that not me saying that he has come to bigger clubs than Ranger or Celtic. Its just that he has come to Prem where the teams fight for points. If it had been a job going to Man U or Chelsea then yeah, its obvious that any manger could have some relative success. But he has taken a wobbling mid table team and lost most the best players.

    He has his work cut out thats for sure. And on a personal note i would have always liked AM for what he did for Blues, winning the Cup was just amazing, he brought alot of smiles and joy to a club that has won nothing in decades, but to walk out when we are relegated to our main hate rivals for greed is outrageous and if he gets the sack and never manages in the Prem again i will be the last person to show any sympathy.

  • Comment number 50.

    There seems to be a air of Ellis revisited in the appointment ie Villa are a Club who deep down have no real ambition but like to impersonate one that does, so to pacify the unrealistic dreams of their fans. Its a stepping stone Club really. Thats not to say theyre not a grand old Club, with a fine tradition, but the truth is that Alex Mc Leish isnt going to move mountains there any more than anyone else has since the early 80s. Football is a sport so dominated by dirty cash, that Clubs like Villa arent going to get even a sniff of the top table., despite playing it up as if they are in the light of their cut price journeyman appointment.

    AM always seems like a decent sort though. His post match comments are realistic enough and honest. I only wish my Clubs boss would show the same candour as he does at times!

  • Comment number 51.

    It's wierd how we apply different rules to football than real life. Loads of Villa & Birmingham fans have changed jobs and probably gone to direct competitors in many cases. How many have been head-hunted? again probably a decent amount. Football Managers look at it as a job the same way we look at our jobs.

    The problem is that we don't look at it the way they do

  • Comment number 52.


    Yes, there's very little logic about in the thoughts and whims of football fans. Thats the lifeblood of the game though in many respects. For all the fuss and antics of fans though, nothing much changes in the established order of things in the game as a result.

    I think football is in trouble to be honest. A lot of previously diehard fans are so diehard as they once were. Clubs are still oblivious to it it seems, yet its the thing that will bring about its cyclical slump as happened in the mid eighties as crowds dwindled alarmingly in the midst of the then economic hardships bit hard under Thatcher. These Clubs need a reality check.

  • Comment number 53.

    Worried sick about all these developments at Villa Park. However - we have what we have, and at AVFC Lerner has chosen so all the fans will have to wait and see. We can say I told you so if it goes wrong, and we can say phew if it doesn't . Either way, as long as he keeps hold of Downing I am hopeful things will calm down. Young is going for a few games as first pick before he keeps one of those ridiculous seats warm up at Old Trafford for an hour a game.

  • Comment number 54.

    To SSP...McLeish did actually say he hoped we would all be having a different press conference in a year's time - and I assume he didn't mean with a different manager.

    And this platform is open to Birmingham fans as well as Villa supporters. Tell me how you felt seeing McLeish holding up the Villa shirt and scarf and wearing the club tie? Did it really feel like betrayal or have you moved on?

  • Comment number 55.

    Just a quick word to some on here: it is NOT the same as one of us changing jobs.

    Villa/Blues fans are right to be irked by what has happened.

    A manager moves to the local 'enemy' = treason.

    Rivalries are part of football.

    They are a key part of what makes it the great sport that it is.

    For people who actually go and watch games, week in week out, these rivalries are essential.

    They are part of what drives a fan to go, on a wet February night, to watch a game in the third division!

    There is a tribalism to such support. And rightly so.

    But, yes, of course it shouldn't be taken too far. Death-threats - or anything remotely like that - are 100% totally OTT. Utterly ridiculous and totally wrong.

    It is a game, after all.

  • Comment number 56.

    Unfortuantely for Alex McLeish he will undoubtedly fail at Aston Villa. Those who finished in last seasons top 7 I beleive will again this campaign and whoever came in as Houllier's successer would have struggled to settle in and please the fans but coming from the other side of the city from fierce rivals Birmingham only means he will never be given a chance.
    If he had of came from any other club to manage Villa it would have been a half decent appointment for both parties but having led Birmingham to thier greatest day in thier history on 27/03/11 only hightened Villa fans contempt and in extreme cases hate towards him. To now be asked to go full circle and back him as Villa manager is simply not going to happen.

  • Comment number 57.

    #55 - It is exactly the same as one of us changing jobs. it is the equivalent of a design engineer moving from soemwhere like BAE Systems to Lockheed Martin or a director from HP to Dell. While it is a tribal thing for fans for the players and managers it is only a JOB and they will move when and where they can best improve their career and remuneration just like everyone else

  • Comment number 58.

    @Phil 54

    I think most Blues fans have moved on, but AM holding the Villa shirt still doesnt look right. From a Blues fan prospective my thoughts are divided that he resigned. Firstly i thought he is a decent bloke for staying with the Blues and honouring his contract, he got us our the Championship before, maybe he could have done it again. So i thought best stick with him. But then he resigned, maybe the board did something to put him off, and ok fair enough we would have thanked him partially and that would have been the end of it. But then he went to Villa and caused a stir in the City, i think the initial bad feelings from Blues fans is more or less over. As a club we have more important things to do to get our team playing again, and we need to find a manager and find one fast.
    All other things are now speculation, will he fail or succeed nobody truly knows, but i fear the worst for Villa and can see them spiraling down the league and they came close last season to the relegation zone but with him at the helm and not being able to keep Villa;s better players and no goalie, petrov to old and Collins gone (although i doubt to many Villa fans wouldn't care to much about him) just shows that Villa need new players. Now AM is wanting Rio back, which to me smells of desperation and it would be another shock of he came back. And what player would want to go to a club that has a very bad feeling around it.

    Its a big step backwards for Villa, and deep down even if they wont admit it Villa fans should be and are more annoyed than us.

  • Comment number 59.

    WycombeWolf --- best small heath pay up the money they owe us for davies then eh ? why do people comment on stuff they have no idea about ???????

  • Comment number 60.

    it just don't look right...i don't know what it just doesn't.

  • Comment number 61.

    I am a great advocate that a really good manager can manage anywhere. I would love to see a manager like myself from commerce working alongside someone with all the football know how, managing jointly a football club. The other element which is essential is loyalty (I know, it works both ways) However., Alex McLeish in his demise from BCFC has shown zero loyalty to his employers, his staff, or supporters and for that I feel hurt to see him wearing his claret and blue tie. Resigning by email is always cowardly and unprofessional.
    I believe he underestimates entirely the strength of feeling their is and you will hear the bang from St Andrews to Lands End if he approaches Peter Pannau, or Carson Yeoung for any of the Blues players.

    I have no personal malice for the Villa, I hope it works out for them, but I cannot see it making a great difference. Alex McLeish failed at Birmingham because he was not able over 2 seasons to sign a striker, Craig Gardener, Seb Larsson were and still are great but McLeish failed to find someone for the Centre forward postion.

  • Comment number 62.

    morning all.

    the saga continues ( yawns )

    His appointment is to ensure survival for AV in the PL nothing more nothing less
    His credentials are less than average
    His Profile has increased
    He is Scottish, not English
    His record shows with BC he's pretty useless

    Having taken BC to the championship he accepts the only job offered to him
    cant blame him for that though afterall if he was as good as being spouted he
    would have had a choice where to go.

    winning the Title with Rangers is not exactly difficult as the competition is pretty naff, saving BC from the drop proved to much of hurdle and in reality exposed just
    what a poor manager he is when faced with a proper test.

    my sympathys to the BC surporters, though i did predict your CC win and subsequent euphoria would be short lived.

    Commiserations to the AV surporters

    and to think we all have another season to look forward to seeing this man and his brand and style of football in PL lets us hope for the sake of Football its very short lived and he returns to Glasgow . and manages Celtic.

  • Comment number 63.

    Players, and managers alike, go where the work is! They aren't 'fans' - they're paid to do a job at a club. If they get a better offer, they move on!
    Villa are a bigger club than Birmingham. I think McLeish will do a good job!

    The haters are just morons!

  • Comment number 64.

    I still dont think any severe trouble will come from being a villa manager. But Alex was at this game, he understands the animosity between the 2 clubs. I didnt go to the first meeting between Villa and Blues when we first arrived back in the Prem. But what i do remember was local newspaper reports about all the trouble. I heard the Blues fans had to fight their way into Villa park. Then later in the local press was pictures of dozens of fans who had custodial sentances.

    People in Birmingham are quite basic straight forward people, there is a big hisyory of hate between Blues and Villa fans, probably after the old firm derbys it has to be one of the most violent. Blues and Villa are banned from playing night matches because of the trouble. So why ignite more bad feelings, it doesnt make sense. Its a bad move all day long. For me i just want to see AM fall flat on his face and again proves that football clubs care nothing about fans and how we feel.

  • Comment number 65.

    Taking a view as neutral Baggies fan with experience of the difficulties of a Championship campaign I would suggest that achieving success at Blues next season may actually be more difficult than achieving the same relative success at Villa. Villa have had an unusually bad season but realise that they are a club now in transition so any improvement i.e. a mid table finish and a good cup run would be seen as progress.

    Take a look at the situation in Small Heath and the picture is very different. Anyone who takes the time to look away from the Premiere League will realise that the Championship is an unrelenting league with game after game. It is hard enough to gain promotion as it is but add in a European campaign that Blues fans will expect to go as far as possible in and you have the near impossible goal without a strong quality squad. With players already leaving Blues, the strength of squad already looks vulnerable.

    Has McCleish slapped Blues in the face by going to Villa? I would suggest that he may have just taken the easier option.

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't understand why so many people don't rate McLeish. It really baffles me. At every club he has been at he has had limited resources. What would Mourinho achieve at a club like Hibs? How would Ferguson do at Motherwell?

    McLeish, in his first managerial job, got a poor Motherwell team play great attacking football and finishing 3rd in the SPL.They then pushed Borussia Dortmund all the way in the Uefa cup. At my club Hibs, he also had us playing some great football and finishing 3rd in the SPL, not forgetting the emphatic 6-2 victory over our fiercest rivals Hearts. At Rangers, with no money, he won 7 TROPHY'S IN 4 SEASONS and got them to the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in their history. He got Birmingham promoted and won them the league cup for only the second time in their history. 9th is also their highest position in over 51 years. At clubs like these, this is success. Birmingham are not going to win the Champions League

    Oh, and McLeish quits his clubs. golly-gosh!! Apart from Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, which manger does not quit his club in order to fulfill his potential?

    Give McLeish a chance. He is one of the best British managers out there and will definitely go onto achieve much. much more.

  • Comment number 67.

    Some pundit on SkySports blamed the owner RL for being insensitive to the fans outbursts but forgave him for being a Yankee. The question is how come a Brit (Scot Actually) like AM would be so insensitive as to just walk across town and take a job in the face of fierce revulsion from the fans? For his own sake let us all pray that AVFC win the first 3 matches or else...

  • Comment number 68.

    57 I reckon youre right. Just a job. Its a symptom of the sterilty that pervades football now. At one time, managing certain Clubs wasnt just a job though for some of the bosses. Can you ever have imagined Shankly going to Everton or Busby to Liverpool or Graham to Tottenham whilst still employed by Arsenal etc?

    For cross city transfers to generate real antipathy these days, it depends on what the said Coach has done with the Club he departs and the circs surrounding the Coach s departure from the transfree Club. Bham did well to win the CC but in truth Mc Leish did little else there and as Houllier was hardly the stuff of Villa legend, im afraid its hard to see why there is such an outcry to outsiders. The West Midlands region is hardly a hotbed of heady success, though it certainly was at one time. Maybe the furore is because of the lack of success in the region?

  • Comment number 69.

    Firstly I just want to wish Big Eck well and I hope he does well at Villa. However, I'm not convinced he will do a great job.

    The biggest problem I see with Mcleish is that once he puts his own team together things tend to go down hill.

    For example, he went to Hibs and took over someone elses players and they shot up the lead. It will only after he signed his own players that things started to decline. However, the earlier results were enough to convince Rangers to give him the job.

    He takes over at Rangers mid season, wins the 2 cups followed by the league next season. Then things go down hill. Yes he does win the league once more, in very dramatic fashion it must be said.

    He does well with Scotland in a job where he obviously cannot sign any players.

    Taking Birmingham down the first time round was obviously not his fault and he does well to bounce back and have a good season in the EPL.

    He then spends £6m on Zigic who IMHO is not cut out for English football, mostly he has been disappointing.

    Couple that with his defensive minded tactics and I do feel that this job isn't going to work out well for him.

    I hope he proves me wrong and does well but I will be very surprised if he does.

  • Comment number 70.

    All depends on how he starts as Villa have the easiest start to the season imaginable:
    Fulham v Villa
    Villa v Blackburn
    Villa v Wolves
    Everton v Villa
    Villa v Newcastle
    QPR v Villa
    Villa v Wigan

    Only the trip to Everton looks difficult, but Everton don't usually start well so even that may be easier. So if he gets off to a good start and builds up some momentum then he might do well at Villa. However, if the start goes badly then that is a lot of points thrown away.

  • Comment number 71.

    I've only read a couple of posts and already that horrible man's name cropped up. Can everyone please, please stop going on about Martin O'Neil!? Yes thats right. The reason AV are in the strife they're in is because of that horrible, arrogant jumped up pay way too much for average football players and then stomp my feet and leave manager. I'm still not convinced McLeish is the best man for the job but he's there now and, who know's. Ginger, Scottish. He could be the next Ferguson!

  • Comment number 72.


    my sympathys to the BC surporters, though i did predict your CC win and subsequent euphoria would be short lived.


    You also predicted an Arsenal quadruple of trophies!


    How would Ferguson do at Motherwell?

    Poor analogy as SAF would probably do as well as he did with East Stirling, St Mirren and Aberdeen. McLeish did okay with Motherwell though he was on the verge of the sack before he went to Hibs. With Hibs I agree he sent out attacking teams and got them playing well. And he may have had no money with Rangers but they still had the biggest and most expensive squad in Scotland when he arrived, and the biggest and most expensive squad ever assembled at any time by any Scottish club. Not surprisingly, much of the success came early on in his tenure, his replacements after the big earners left in 2003 were not as good and he was only removed when the fan protests became too much for the club to tolerate.

  • Comment number 73.

    AM had many failings at Blues, ugly football the main one. Bad signings and some unfortunate ones which slipped him by also. The guy had 4 years to turn blues into a good competitive side. BUt we never really competed, we turned up and defended with our lives every single game. People say he wasn't to blame for us going down the first year in charge. But that credit for this goes down to the Blues fans and board. We are in many cases a realistic club, we dont expect Europe, we dont expect to be a top 10 side and we dont expect our club to be playing barca football. Blues have always been an honest almost working class type team, we like battlers, we judge our games not by performances but by the result. So AM had the best club behind him to be given time to build and while many fans always shouted 4-4-2 and few others moaned and groaned, which is the same at any club, he was mostly supported.

    Alot of people think he should be credited for CC win, and rightly so, and while we deserved credit for our ambition and complete dedication to keep Arsenal out in that game it was ultimately a stroke of luck or bad defending by Arsenal, and lets face it we dont exactly have a good track record of beating any top 4 club, it was a well welcomed uplifting one off win and nothing else.

    His stats for Blues are shocking, and i think that most clubs would have sacked him long before he resigned.

    I think AM will be the same at Villa but they will be much less forgiving than we were at St Andrews.

    I just dont think he has ability as a Prem manager and he is to stuck in his won ways to develop a potential squad to play flair attacking football which is what delusional Villa fans think they should be playing.

    If AM does get Danns, Johnson or Foster then thats will be the biggest insult to Blues and i think out of respect for the fans at Birmingham he should not even contemplate it. But i still doubt the Blues Board will entertain any bids from Villa unless the price is irresistible .

  • Comment number 74.

    Give him a chance. The Villa have hardly been wallowing in success in the PL era. AM won silverware at Brum. When was the last time the Villa won anything ?

  • Comment number 75.

    As a Man Utd supporter all this makes a pleasant change from the usual tedious silliness and tomfoolery that frequently keeps United's name at the top of the "Let's make ourselves look stupid" table every summer - Rooneys hair transplant, HeWhoMustNotBeNamed's alleged infidelities, every player under the sun being linked to a move to Old Trafford, Evra kicking off at the World Cup, "Berbatov seen eating burger in McDonalds in Southend (allegedly) so transfer to Roots Hall imminent, BBC Sport understands..." and so on.

    Once this dies down, if Mr Redknapp would be good enough to have a chat with the board at Arsenal, that should keep attention deflected away from silly season OT stories until the Charideee Shield gets the season underway again...

  • Comment number 76.

    Why do I get the feeling that this blog is merely a statement that you still believe you were right to dedicate a blog previously to this pretty dull subject.

    He's hardly going to start many fires, but he's a decent enough manager. With all the financial clouds looming at the blues, i'm not surprised he's jumped ship. Karren Brady also came to the same view. It's a shame for the club, but as for the manager, i'm sure he'll do much better than Houllier.

    Should Villa fans be happy? They could have had far worse, at least they'll be stronger.

    I'm more interested in Chelsea's likely new manager, who i've never even heard of before but looks to be the best signing they could have made, in a stunning likely partnership with Hiddink. Shame it had to be at Chelsea.

  • Comment number 77.

    66.At 11:56 21st Jun 2011, Hibee_Abroad wrote:
    I don't understand why so many people don't rate McLeish. It really baffles me. At every club he has been at he has had limited resources. What would Mourinho achieve at a club like Hibs? How would Ferguson do at Motherwell?


    Extremely well judging by Ferguson's record at St Mirren and Aberdeen and Mourinho's at Porto (not the best examples there)

  • Comment number 78.

    just a thought - if Steve Jobs moved from Apple to Google would all the Apple fanboys hate him, or start issuing death threats?

    No, only in football. They wouldn't be happy, naturally, but the fans don't OWN the manager. They don't even own the club, they just support it. So get a grip... it IS just a job, until you stay at a club for so long that the club get's fully into your skin. Such as with Sir Alex or Wenger.

    Some manage to feign that love (Mourinho being the best at it), either to get the fans on side or because they're tarts.

    But generally, its just a job to them (as it should be), and only emotional for those who tie themselves to a club like fans.

  • Comment number 79.

    For Villa fans, there's only one realistic way forward; give McLeish the chance to prove what he can do. He's not a bad manager, he works well with players, and he appears to be ambitious. He know what's expected of him, and the challenge of managing in the Premier League. How it will work out at Villa is impossible to predict, but it is with any manager to some extent. But with the talent at his disposal he should better last season's result. The longer-term question is, will he take Villa to that point where they're at least knocking on the door of the Big Five, or will they be stuck somewhere just above halfway in the table, which would be failure given their relative resources. We'll have to wait and see.

    Yes, the appointment was puzzling. The Villa board's approach to replacing Houllier was a shambles, not appearing to consider a number of candidates with proven track records, and settling on one who still has to prove his PL credentials. For all Houllier's mistakes, his overall approach gave Villa fans a glimpse of the sort of football which could genuinely take Villa to the next level, and that's really the heart of the matter. McLeish is different to O'Neill, whose approach had really run into a dead end. Maybe he is the change Villa need. He has to have the chance to prove it.

  • Comment number 80.

    Oh great another one of the Premier League clubs will be managed by one of 'Fergie's friends'. I'm sure that will be another easy 6 points for Man Utd and a nice bit of tummy tickling!

    With McLeish, Bruce, Hodgson, Arry Redknapp and Moyes that's 25-30 pts for Man Utd before the season even starts! At least Allardyce and Hughes don't currently manage Premier League teams!

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 78

    Your obviously not a football fan. And if the ground was filled with 30,000 people like you it would be silent with slight reserved clapping when goals were scored.

    This is football where fans sing, rant, rave, hate and love. Its an emotional game for real football fans and the Clubs represnt our City or Areas where we all grew up playing football on the streets and loved our clubs since the day we can remember.

    Your analogies are worse than mine and that takes some beating, but at least i understand the fans, and i am true footballing person where football is my passion and love in life, doesn't matter if i am playing waqtching or reading about it, football is everything to some people and their clubs are like our homes and our fellow supporters like family.

  • Comment number 82.

    He's definitely one of the more honest managers in terms of post match views and I suspect he had serious concerns about the future at Birmingham.

    The Talksport interview with his former chief scout who was unceremoniously sacked (via e-mail but not even directly to him...he was cc'd into it) was interesting in terms of the players Birmingham almost signed i.e. basic terms were agreed between manager and agent but the deals then failed before completion.

    Suspicion has long lingered about Yeung's intentions for the club and it will be worth watching to see if there's any sign that there's a genuine desire to gain promotion next season i.e. who they appoint as manager and what resources he's given.

  • Comment number 83.


    Good point. The appalling Britsih clique of long tongued Ferguson desciples reigns supreme. Not surprising then that Ferguson was soon out there espousing the qualities of McLeish following his appointment. Mind you, Villa are already up there with Tottenham vying for the award of best 'roll over and have your bellies tickled' act in games v Man Utd.

  • Comment number 84.

    It would have been alot more interesting if Blues was still in the Prem though. So in that respect Villa and Blues are now miles apart and has little to do with Blues fans anymore.

    Lets just sit back and watch him destroy Villa



  • Comment number 85.

    I think Birmingham fans should give him a chance they have been crying out for a good manager since O'Neil left. I also think the previous managers linked to the job have wanted too much money for transfer from Lerner. Maybe thats why mcleish has got the job but he got silverware out of the Birmingham players so no reason why he can't acheive that with Aston Villa. Loyalty in football went out the window years ago its about time fans took this on board. If Mcleish is successfull in the next few seasons will they remember he once managed Birmingham or will they be singing in his glory.? It could have been handled alot better but thats football isn't it...give the guy a chance I think its a good move and hopefully it will stop the flow of good players wanting to go to other clubs.

  • Comment number 86.

    The move might be welcomed or at least accepted by Villa fans should it have been a manager with any discernable talent and quality.But McLeish to the contrary shows all the tactical aplomb and character of a dead whale being kicked up a beach.It is quite unfathonable what Lerner has seen in his CV to suggest anything other than mediocrity and underachievement.

  • Comment number 87.

    I feel completely let down and disappointed by the behaviour of McLeish.

    Having said that, I'm glad he's gone because the standard of our football had got to such a poor level that I didn't enjoy watching us. Most neutrals were happy that we went down and I don't blame them!

    It's a new era for Blues and it may take some time but looking ahead we will have better days than McLeish. KRO

  • Comment number 88.

    I think Alex McLeish will do ok at a small mid-table side like Villa where nothing much is expected. The real pressure was on at Ibrox and overall he coped considerably well. The Villa fans should be glad to have him.

  • Comment number 89.

    He's a football manager, not a Birmingham City fan. He's been given the chance to manage a large premier league club. Can't blame him for taking the opportunity.

  • Comment number 90.

    Yes stumunslow #71, O'Neill was clearly a disaster for your club, who have flourished since his departure. I'd be pointing the finger at Lerner if I was you, who seems completely disinterested in progressing the side.

    Villa should have invested in players when they had a good spine to the team, as without more investment it's difficult to see how they could have progressed. It takes more than a season or two of investment to break into the Champions League places. Now they have no chance, especially under McLeish. His brand of pragmatic football will not be much of an improvement on Houllier IMO. Although to be fair, he has always been a lucky manager, which is sometimes better than a good one.

  • Comment number 91.


    The real pressure was on at Ibrox and overall he coped considerably well

    Started with the biggest and most expensive squad ever assembled by any Scottish club side ever and ended by being sacked because of fan protests about poor results. Hmm?!!

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

    You don't play with a chequebook, barry. It's the quality of players at your disposal in any given season. McLeish started well at Rangers when he had quality players like De Boer, Klos, Numan, Caniggia, Arteta etc - winning the title on goal difference while Celtic were playing midweek fixtures in reaching the UEFA Cup final.

    However Rangers faded dramatically when he lost the better players (although he luckily did win the league once more, when Celtic threw it away on Helicopter Sunday). The fans ended up protesting against him the following season, so poor had Rangers become, even though they did reach the CL last 16 by drawing 5 games. That says a lot.

    Good luck to Villa but I don't see spectacular progress under McLeish, more likely finishing mid-league would be a good result. Judging by the majority of comments here I think most people feel the same.

  • Comment number 95.

    So much about this McLeish thing annoys me, as a Villa fan and as a football fan.

    [Apologies for the length, I'm getting it all out in one go.]

    Firstly, I'd like to point out that the fact that he managed our rivals for the last few years is the least significant issue on my list of aggrievances.

    Martin O'Neill was good for the club and people who claim Villa had stagnated under him by finishing 6th for 3 years aren't fully understanding what was required to achieve that placing in an increasingly competitive group at the top of the league. Not all his transfers worked out or were great value, but he made us a strong club. Houllier was a questionable appointment and I didn't really like him. I think he was trying to move towards playing more attacking and adventurous football, so in transition, we lost our solidity of previous seasons. His personal dealings with players seemed to leave an awful lot to be desired though, so I certainly wasn't sorry to see him go last month.

    The search for a new manager seemed promising at first, with the club conducting themselves very well and Wigan commending the Villa hierarchy on their behaviour. Names like McClaren and Rafa didn't excite me, but Hughes and, to a lesser extent, Martinez were decent and reasonable targets. But, after the fuss over reportedly discounting Hughes due to his treatment of Fulham (and let's remember he served out a contract and chose not to renew it, though he had verbally agreed to do so beforehand - not the worst behaviour of mercurial managers we've seen), how did the club suddenly decide that McLeish was worth poaching in a fantastically undignified fashion? The disrespect shown by both McLeish and Villa in this deal has tarnished the club's reputation.

    One of the few pleasures in being a Villa fan, amidst all the ups and downs, the shock wins, disheartening losses and constant heartbreak of being "nearly men", was taking pride in the way our club was run and the way all connected to it behaved. We aren't a club with vast swathes of fair-weather fans scattered around the four corners of the globe. It's a fanbase of honest football lovers who are in for the good days and the bad and can forgive our many failures on the pitch because there has always been a club with dignity to place your pride in.

    Brazenly disregarding the wishes of the fans and evidently tapping-up our neighbours' manager is a serious blemish on the club and Lerner & Faulkner's management of Villa. The club publicly stated a few weeks ago that they would be willing to approach managers who were under contract but would always do so through the proper channels as they did with Wigan. They have clearly reneged on that and it's an embarrassment. The fan's anger over the rumours was so strong that they should not have proceeded to interview McLeish, it's as simple as that. No, you can't bow to every tiny bit of whinging from the fans, but you don't appoint a man with an average track record (at best) if he's going to alienate and enrage a huge proportion of the club's fans. That's disrespectful and above all, it doesn't make sense.


  • Comment number 96.


    Aside from the classless manner in which the club dealt with Birmingham, there is the matter of the compensation fee required and his considerable wage packet. All of this coming thick and fast after having to pay off O'Neill and Houllier due to personal differences and a lack of a foresight. Put all this together and you'd be hoping that if the club are willing to go through this much difficulty and this much expense, we'd be getting a top class manager for our trouble. But really, we've taken on a manager who is destined for bottom-half misery if you ask me.

    McLeish's managerial record, in reality, has very little to brag about...
    Motherwell and Hibernian: There is very little cause for celebration in finishing third in a two-horse race. Have a few drinks if you like, but I wouldn't be staying out past my bedtime.
    Rangers: Being given a job like managing Rangers is the equivalent of using your 50:50 on the £1,000 question on Millionaire. You'd have a decent chance of winning trophies with your eyes closed and more often than not, the victor in the annual rivalry between the big two in Scotland is more down to the deficiencies of their competitor than the brilliance of the eventual winners.
    Scotland: A tenure remembered only for it's brevity and that win in Paris - A defensive performance blessed with a bit of a wonder goal.
    Birmingham: Contrary to many half-arsed historians' opinions, McLeish was in charge for more than half of the season when he took over at Blues. He subsequently took them from 13th to 19th in the league with a worse points-per-game record than his predecessor. If he hadn't had the worst Premier League team of all time to break his fall, they'd have been bottom. He then got them promoted. Well done. This does not equate to Premier League quality; it simply means he can negotiate a mediocre league like the Championship (as he did in Scotland).
    Finishing 9th the following season was a big achievement for Birmingham, but only because they had failed to do so for 51 years. Let's shed a tear for them. Enough of that. Now let's remember that the success of that season was based almost entirely on Joe Hart's stellar performances keeping clean sheets while they relied on odd goals from Bowyer and Ferguson to nick wins in dour contests.
    Before dropping like a stone and getting relegated on the final day - losing to a Spurs side with little to play for in comparison - Birmingham lifted the Carling Cup... with one of the worst cup-winning goals in recent memory, remember. You can't claim a cup-winning side were lucky throughout the tournament, but really, where did they prove their quality? Their best result was probably beating Villa, who were in a bit of a shambles at the time.

    So now, we have a man with a fairly unspectacular managerial record and an overt disregard for loyalty to, or respect for, his employers installed as manager on a 3-year contract. At a time when we're again struggling to convince our season's best performers that they can play at the highest level in a Villa shirt, is this supposed to be the man who can convince them that the club has real ambition? Is he going to keep our best players happy? Is he going to get us playing the football Villa fans want to see? I doubt it and I doubt he'll bring in quality either. We'll sell Young and that's fair enough, but if we bring in Wes Brown, Joey Barton & Allan McGregor, we're going nowhere. We might get Foster/Given and Charlie Adam if we're lucky, but 9th place would still be optimistic for the coming season, if you ask me. I strongly believe that the reason his "vision" for Aston Villa matched up to that of Lerner is because he's happy to buy average players on the cheap and assemble a team of workhorses who can defend and maybe nick a lucky goal. That isn't progress. That isn't ambition.

    Appointing a random belligerent Scottish man as manager won't turn us into Manchester United, Randy. It doesn't work like that. You had the right man in Martin O'Neill and you couldn't help him push the club on. Instead you've flushed millions down the drain in this year-long managerial fiasco only to leave us as a club with a reputation in tatters, lifelong fans alienated and desperately trying to stem the outward tide of quality players from our ranks. It's a sorry state of affairs and it's the first time in my lifetime that I don't feel like I can support my club.

  • Comment number 97.

    Yes, but that's the point poster 88. He's moved to, in your words, "a small mid-table side like Villa", yet even that is a monumental step up from one of the games perennial also rans and failures, the yo-yo outfit that is Birmingham City. Is he up to the task?

    I personally believe that by being surrounded by better players, better facilities, and a board that will surely back him to the hilt, then he stands a good chance of enjoying a successful spell at Brummagem B6.

    It is indeed a huge jump up the ladder from Birmingham City to Villa Park, but here's hoping that McLeish is up to the task.

    Whether he is or not, only time will tell, but rest assured, failure wont result due to a lack of hard work and effort.

    Good Luck to the man.

  • Comment number 98.

    We didnt get a blog on the Euro's, and that could have been a great platform to talk abut how much more we need to do to get a decent international team, the way we are going we wont even be a top 20 team in a few years.

    But how about a Blog on GB olympic team, even now i dont understand why there is so much aversion from Scotland and Wales.

  • Comment number 99.

    #93 - I don't see any sectarian views in comment #91, care to elaborate?

    Discussion of McLeish's past managerial record is all too relevant here, and whether you want to accept it or not he had better players at his disposal at Rangers that any other side he has managed. If you aspire to a side of similar quality then you should really examine how he fared there.

    As for "a normal derby", give me a break. If Celtic or Rangers fans acted the way Blues Villa fans had at games in recent years, god knows what the reaction would have been.

  • Comment number 100.

    Yes McLeish had a better team at Rangers than at Birmingham but any manager could of went to Rangers and still won the league there due to the players we had at the time, i can understand the Villa's fan frustration at having a manager who just managed there local rivals last year, i mean i know i wouldnt want a certain Mr Lennon at Rangers in the future but the Villa fans have got to give him a chance, alot of people will disagree though but hey, everyone is entitled to there opinion :)


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