McClaren reveals Villa withdrawal

Newly appointed Nottingham Forest manager Steve McClaren has confirmed he was set to interview with Aston Villa before the club pulled out.McClaren, 50, was believed to be among the leading candidates to succeed Gerard Houllier at Villa Park.

The former England and Middlesbrough head coach was scheduled to meet with Villa owner Randy Lerner and senior club officials before the interview was cancelled.

According to some outlets, the negative reaction of Villa supporters to the possibility of McClaren taking over led Lerner and his advisors withdrawing from talks.

Roberto Martinez then turned down the chance to interview for Villa job, opting to remain with Wigan Athletic.

Alex McLeish has now become the leading candidate to take over at Villa, just days after walking out on their cross-city rivals Birmingham.

At his unveiling as manager of Championship side Forest on Thursday, McClaren confirmed he had been set to meet with Lerner.

“There was an approach, there was an appointment set up,” McClaren said.

“That wasn’t fulfilled. I couldn’t control that. I quickly move on.”

When asked why the interview was cancelled, McClaren said: “I don’t know. You would have to ask Aston Villa that.”

“At the time it was a disappointment, but I’ve had many disappointments in football, many highs and lows, you quickly move on.”

McClaren’s reputation in England suffered after an ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, which failed to secure qualification to Euro 2008 under his stewardship.

An Eredivisie title with Twente in 2010 went some way to rehabilitating his reputation, but McClaren knows he is still likely to encounter resistance in some quarters.

“A small number of people will concentrate on the England thing and maybe view me in a bad light but I think the majority of people will be, and have been, supportive,” McClaren said.

“I can’t change some of those views but the people who know football know me and they have been very supportive.”

“I don’t feel I have anything to prove. I came back to England because I wanted to. I had offers to stay on the continent but the challenge of English football, and Nottingham Forest, is what brought me back.”