Whether Randy Lerner got desperate for a new manager, or whether he was always an Alex McLeish fan I don’t know, but barring something extraordinary over the next few hours, it appears that ‘Big Eck’ will become the new Aston Villa manager.
On Sunday night in my last blogpost I wrote how I couldn’t see any way in the world that this deal could happen, how wrong was I. Just about everything except the betting pointed to this deal having no chance.
There seemed to be a similarity in the way McLeish resigned to that of Mark Hughes leaving Fulham. Apparently the nature of Hughes’ resignation cost him his chance of the Villa job – surely this would rule McLeish out as the same logic would apply? Apparently not.
A fans backlash ruled out Steve McClaren, so surely a worse fans backlas against McLeish would rule him out? Again, apparently not.
Anyway, with the appointment now imminent it will be interesting too see the reaction for his first game at Villa Park. Will the fans have calmed down by then?
Will they just accept things and support McLeish for the good of the club? Who knows, I’d imagine it will be a bit of everything with certain sections never accepting him and some just reluctantly backing him.
One thing that is for sure is that McLeish certainly has plenty of balls. To accept this challenge knowing how unpopular he is shows McLeish is the sort of strong willed character that Villa need.
I actually believe that if the fans give him a chance he will do ok. I see him in a similar mould to that of David Moyes, he is well organised and his players all look like they want to play for him. He proved this in his previous jobs at Scotland and Rangers.
I also don’t buy this theory that he is a negative manager, was he defensive with Rangers? No. He certainly isn’t gung-ho, that’s for sure, but at Birmingham he was only working with the tools he was given.
He seemed to have a lack of attacking options at St Andrews, whether that was down to McLeish’s transfers or the owners not buying the players he wanted, I’m not sure. But I’m sure if he had the strikers, he would have used them.
He also built his Birmingham team on solid foundations with a decent keeper and two top class centre backs, a lesson I’d say he learnt from Sir Alex Ferguson.
At Villa he will have to be more attacking, expectations will be higher with the resources available too him. He already has Darren Bent in his new team, if he can now hang onto Stewart Downing as well, then along with the exciting crop of youngsters at the club he has the foundations to build a decent team.
He also has experience of managing at international level, in the Champions League and he has won a domestic up. Ok, so he has taken Birmingham down twice, but the first of those times he came into the job with the team already in trouble, he then got them back up.
The second time, he has to accept responsibility as it was his team and they fell away badly after the Carling Cup final. They had injuries, yes, but McLeish couldn’t arrest the slump in form, but then no manager has a perfect record.
I do believe that Villa fans should give him a chance, managers of his experience and calibre don’t come around every week. Give ‘Big Eck’ a chance, he might just impress you.