McLeish’s plea to Villa fans

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has asked the club’s fans to give him time to show he is the right man for the job.The former Birmingham City manager crossed to the city rivals last week to replace Gerard Houllier, who stood down as boss.

Villa fans were unhappy with his appointment, but McLeish asked on Monday to be given a chance.

“Let me prove myself and I will win you over. It is not a case of proving the fans wrong. I want to go forward with them and prove I am the man for this job,” he said.

“I can understand the passion and emotion of football and as long as it doesn’t get out of control I can understand their feelings. Am I fazed by it? No. Have I had it before? Yes. I really look forward to the challenge.”

The former Rangers manager, 52, led Birmingham to success in the League Cup last season.

The club was relegated to the Championship after a 2-1 loss at Tottenham on the final day of the season and City powerbrokers were unhappy when he resigned on June 12 with two years left to run on his contract.

McLeish said the offer from Villa was too good to refuse.

“To think I have been able to manage both of them (Aston Villa and Birmingham City) is a wonderful honour,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say it was a difficult decision in my career but it was a tough one. It is not every day you get offered a job like this. There is no way I couldn’t have been the manager of Villa.”

“I thank them very much for their support over the four years I have been there. Not everybody was sure of me at Birmingham and OK, I left on relegated, but we just fought one of the hardest Premier League campaigns ever.”

The Scot did not rule out making a move for some of his former players at St Andrew’s.

“I know there are many good players there but the policy that I have always maintained is not to talk about other clubs’ players,” McLeish said.

“If I thought a player could improve Aston Villa Football Club, why not?”

McLeish’s first competitive game in charge will be away at Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League season on August 13.