Aston Villa’s attempts to find a new manager after Gerard Houiller’s resignation have been about as successful as Titus Bramble attempts’ to be a consistent defender. The media circus has speculated the likes of Mark Hughes and Rafael Benitez were in the running for the Villa Park hot seat, however in recent days Alex McLeish has become favourite with the bookies after his surprising resignation from Birmingham. Is McLeish the right man to get Villa dreaming of European nights again though?
I will start with the ‘elephant in the room’. McLeish has managed arch rivals Birmingham City for four years, and as a football fan, I would be livid if my team hired a former manager of a local rival no matter how successful. It was reported Steve McClaren wasn’t interviewed for the current post due to a fan backlash so the Villa board cancelled their meeting with the former Wolfsburg boss, this was all due to McClaren’s unsuccessful spell with England but since then he has proven himself to be a successful manager, well more successful than McLeish so surely a fan backlash will be even greater if the former Birmingham man is appointed?
McLeish did lead Birmingham to Carling Cup success this season, which in turn brings European football to St Andrew’s next season, but his side appeared to suffer from a Cup Final hangover and went on a terrible run of results which culminated in their relegation. McLeish has taken Birmingham down twice now (admittedly the first time he was only in charge for six months) but the point is Villa had an out of character relegation threatened season under Houiller this season, and will be looking to finish in the top six again next year, so appointing a man whose only taste of Premier League football is relegation is hardly the correct move.
Martin O’Neill’s time at Villa Park had the Villa faithful dreaming of Champions League football. O’Neill was a manager who always pushed the boundaries, wanted Villa to achieve more and more and it is no coincedence since the former Leicester City boss has left Aston Villa they’re in a decline. Randy Lerner should look to appoint a young visionary of a manager, who can reshape the club from top to bottom and McLeish is most certainly not that man. Despite all his success in Scotland, McLeish has earnt a reputation as a stern and strict manager, and as the saying goes ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.