Sunday 17 December 2017

McLeish insists he can impress Villa fans amid Blues backlash

Aston Villa may have concluded their protracted search for a new manager but the brouhaha over Alex McLeish's controversial appointment is set to rumble on.

McLeish himself accepts he must win over irate fans following his switch from arch-rivals Birmingham while his former club are set to continue their legal wrangling with Villa. McLeish was yesterday confirmed as Gerard Houllier's successor just five days after he quit St Andrew's.

The 52-year-old has signed a three-year contract. Supporters have voiced opposition to McLeish since it became apparent he was a leading contender for the job, but the Scot is determined to prove doubters wrong.

"I know that some of our fans have voiced concerns and I can understand why," McLeish said. "It will be up to me to convince you that I am the right man to drive the club forward and I intend to give absolutely everything to prove that I can be a success at the club."

Birmingham accused Villa of tapping up McLeish earlier this week and have demanded £5.4m compensation to cover the remaining two years of a contract they believe he was induced to break. Villa responded to Birmingham's claims by stating they understood McLeish to be a free agent.

Birmingham did not carry out threats to report Villa to the Premier League or take out an injunction to block the move, but insist the matter is not closed.

A statement read: "The fact that Alex McLeish has been appointed as manager of Aston Villa does not, in any way, mean that the legal dispute is over and Birmingham City Football Club maintains its stance and shall vigorously pursue the matter.

"We are very disappointed with how the club and its fans have been treated by Mr McLeish, given the way we have supported him over the years and we are still looking into whether Aston Villa's conduct has been in line with Premier League rules."

Irish Independent

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