Alex McLeish defends style of play on first day at Nottingham Forest

 

"I had a text this morning from Mick McCarthy," Alex McLeish said as he introduced himself to the media as the fifth Nottingham Forest manager in four years. "It said 'welcome back to the asylum'."

No one knows more than McLeish, the former Rangers, Scotland, Birmingham and Aston Villa manager, that to survive in his trade takes not only a thick skin but an acceptance that the rules of other walks of life do not necessarily apply to football. Effectively hounded out of Villa in May by fans who never accepted him, McLeish takes over from a manager sacked after a 4-2 win with his team a point outside the play-off places.

He insists he did not regret the Villa experience, even though it left him so drained he turned down an approach from Forest last summer to take a break. "It was a difficult job at Villa," he said. "But it was one that I met head on and it was great to get over the line [avoiding relegation]."

McLeish, who succeeds Sean O'Driscoll following the latter's surprise dismissal after the Boxing Day win over Leeds, is already facing some hostility at Forest, where supporters are wary of McLeish's recent reputation for dour, defensive football.

But the 53-year-old Glaswegian dismissed the notion that his style is inherently negative. "At Rangers we had one of the best footballing teams to play at Ibrox in a long time. I inherited some good players like Ronald de Boer and Claudio Caniggia and we got these guys to express themselves at high tempo. We ended up winning seven trophies. But if it is easy to turn a player into a passer, Arsène Wenger would not release a single player. It's how to manage resources when you don't have the top passers in your team. You have to play to your strengths. I'm not saying there were no good passers at Villa but if you're [in] relegation battles, it's difficult. But Hibs and Rangers were excellent footballing teams and this team can pass the ball as well."

McLeish's trials at Villa overshadow what he achieved at Birmingham, who were relegated twice under his charge but were promoted in 2009, finished ninth in the top flight in 2010 – their highest for more than 50 years – and won the League Cup in 2011.

He feels Forest offers the chance to rebuild his reputation. "If we can get to the Premier League it will be another big achievement in my career," he said. "I can't emphasise enough how great an opportunity this is. I have to make the most of it."

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss