McLeish appointment completes fall from grace of Randy Lerner


Tension is running high in the Midlands and the man at the centre of the storm isn’t the fiery Scot who is now managing Villa, but instead the clubs owner, Randy Lerner.  His decision to appoint former Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has clearly caused somewhat of a stir in the second City, and to be honest, you can understand why.

It is clear that there are two problems at the core of this decision, firstly, he used to manage the clubs biggest rivals, and secondly Villa fans don’t perceive him to be a particularly good manager.  I think if he had proved himself to be highly skilled and capable of pushing his new club forward they wouldn’t be so bothered that he used to manage Birmingham, but the facts are that he has relegated his old club twice, the second time of which was from a position of relative comfort.

I think a real kick in the teeth to many of the supporters protesting outside Villa Park is that some fans of Birmingham were pleased to see the back of him themselves, that is hardly a glowing reference.  We must remember that he won the League Cup for Birmingham, which you don’t do through being lucky.  He got the team promoted at the first attempt after their first relegation, and aside from the last few months he turned Birmingham into a relatively solid Premier League team, but is that enough to get him the job at Villa Park?

I find it difficult to get my head around, a defense of the Scot could be that he never really got the financial backing at St Andrews that he was promised and expected, he worked on a shoestring.  The squad he had to work with this year was average at best, and I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that they went down, but it was a surprise because he had kept them so organised previously.  It is hard to know what went wrong towards the back end of this campaign, but the wheels definitely came off and the players looked leggy and tired.

The biggest issue at play here for me is the other people that the club could have approached, and that it appears Randy Lerner had no real structure to finding his new manager.

Initially they went for Roberto Martinez, a young manager who has a clear idea of how the game should be played; simply and to feet.  When he rejected the move, they seemed to turn their sights to McLeish, someone who has an entirely different approach to football, it makes me question how their recruitment drive was set up.

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I am a huge Manchester City fan, but also a fan of football as a game. I like to watch games at all levels, from Blue Square Premier, right up to the Premier League where I have a season ticket at City. I really enjoy writing for This Is Futbol because it allows me to give my thoughts on the very latest pieces of football news. I also run for all things Manchester City.


  • Jens Martin says:

    A few comments:

    1. People keep saying that the reason the fans didn’t want McLeish was more to do with his abilities than it was to do with his BCFC connections. Rubbish!! That’s just an excuse. When we were linked wih Steve McLaren (who is a rubbish manager) there was unrest amongst the fans but nothing like the magnitude of what we have seen against McLeish. Face up to it, the protests were due to him coming from St Andrews and the comments about his abilities are just a smokescreen to make the fans look less petty.

    2. How can you say there was no structure around the search for the manager? You may be right but you have no way of knowing. It’s also wrong to say that Randy “went for” Martinez. All that happened was that Villa asked for permission to speak to him, that’s very different from offering him the job. The only reason we even know about that is because Dave Whelan told the world in an attempt to put pressure on him to stay.

    3. All this moaning about McLeish’s style of football. Seriously… we’re not Barcelona. Sure it would be great to play fantastic football but at the end of the day, most Villa fans just want the team to win and if they play attractive football then all the better. It’s not as though we’ve been blessed with poetic football at Villa park over the past 10 years anyway.

    I didn’t wat Mceish eiher but only because I think it would have been better to avoid all this drama but I wasn’t in the interviews either. I don’t know what McLeish’s plans are or who else may or may not have been available. What I do know though is that Randy has hardly put a foot wrong since coming to Villa and he has really put his neck on the line with this one so I’m going to respect that and support the team. One thing is for sure, Alex and Randy have the biggest pair of balls in the country right now.

    Now lets all just stop moaning about it and get on with it. Roll on the new season.

  • Edward Butler says:

    They didn’t have a plan. They reverted to the safety that a MoN clone would give us. The experiment with GH style of football, which would have worked given time, and getting so close to relegation scared them and they ran for cover. Could have gotten Big Sam same style, less baggage. I would predict a safer season than last but poorer football.

  • DSVilla says:

    Maybe I have noticed it more because I have a vested interest in the manager search for Villa, but the journalism surrounding it has been pathetic. There will be NO mass defections of Villa fans. Randy Lerner has been unbelievably good since day 1. Alex McCleish may be an inspired move. Instead of focussing on the negatives, look how good his first choice defence was at Blues. Now think what Villa’s last season would have been with that defence. And how much did he pay for that? The “fans” threatening to never set foot at Villa while he is charge are just pathetic. Go on then, I promise you you won’t be missed because you are the same muppets who turned on Houllier. I’ll be there with the real supporters, supporting McCleish and my team. Fuck the lot of you

  • Jinksy says:

    Randy Learner is the devil in disguise. He has made our club a laughing stock & stuck his middle finger up to the clubs number 1 sponsors us fans. McLiesh is a failed ex Blue nose and that is why he isn’t wanted. If he was a highly successful ex Blue nose i could live with it but the fats are there for us all to see he got them relegated twice in 3 years.

    Randy Lerner Booooooo Faulkner Boooooooo Shame shame shame on you!!!!!

  • steve-0 says:

    Alex McLeish is responsible for the relegation of Birmingham. His formations were wrong all season with pockets of good choices at sporadic points. Defeating Blackpool twice for example, but why oh why a manager takes a team who finished 9th playing 4-4-2 and then made them play a full season at 4-5-1 with a striker who simply can’t play that position is bewildering.

    We were safe with only 3 minutes of the season to play and the fact that Wolves’ 2nd consolation goal relegated us on goals scored is the final piece of proof for McLeish on his failure. I think even he knows the reason for our downfall.

    Have Villa got a good manager? Seriously, the jury is out. The dynamics of Aston Villa are different to Blues and it may be that he fits in much better and it somehow works. It’ll need to be such quirk though for this appointment to pay off. Good luck flying the flag for Brum in the Premiership for what I hope is only a season.

    Out of all of our relegations this is the most hurtful and disappointing. It’s one that was caused by something that Blues fans were pointing out all year long and McLeish did nothing to change, not even in January.

    Birmingham were average at best? I’m flattered by that. If you consider Man Utd down to West Ham, Birmingham certainly weren’t as good as average.

    Aston Villa now have the man responsible for the downfall of a group of players capable of winning silverware and finishing top half of The Premiership steering their ship. There are some good players at Birmingham, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Bluenose. If McLeish can tempt Foster and Dann over the road, you’ll be in for some improvement. Good luck.

  • David Dougan says:

    As a Rangers fan, trust me when I say that Alex McLeish is eccentric in the transfer market to put it mildly. He didn’t have much money at Ibrox, but he managed to blow an awful lot of it, and left the club in a mess, one we only escaped from after Walter Smith returned following Paul Le Guen’s flop.

    I just don’t see what’s in it for McLeish or Aston Villa. It upsets fans on both sides, and dramatically shortens the length of time McLeish will get to get it right.

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