Alex McLeish sacked by Aston Villa


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The Independent Football

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has been sacked, just 11 months after taking charge at Villa Park.

The former Scotland manager has paid the price for a dismal Premier League campaign which saw the Midlanders finish just two points above the relegation zone.

With four home wins in the Premier League all season, the 53-year-old came under increasing pressure, particularly from fans, and the club have now confirmed his departure.

Villa chairman Randy Lerner said: "We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years.

"Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent.

"The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations."

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner added: "We'd like to thank Alex for his hard work and efforts throughout this tough season.

"We are mindful of the club's need to prepare thoroughly for the new campaign and for the new manager to be able to begin working with the board so that he is quickly immersed in these preparations and also in the long-term objectives of the club.

"Our focus now will be driven by these imperatives and we will update when appropriate."

McLeish's tenure started in the worst possible fashion when Villa fans protested at his appointment. The previous season, he had taken Birmingham to victory in the Carling Cup, as well as relegation, and fans appeared to find it difficult to disassociate him with their city rivals.

A dire brand of football, not helped by injuries which saw leading striker Darren Bent spend much of the campaign on the treatment table, failed to improve his standing.

Talking after Villa secured their Premier League safety with a draw against Tottenham in the penultimate match of the season, McLeish appeared to think his job was safe.

"I'd expect to be here next season and hope to win over the dissenting Villa fans," he told the BBC.

On Lerner, he said: "He's been very supportive in texts over the last few days, which indicates great support for me.

"It's been a tough season, as tough as I've had.

"I knew the challenge I was taking on. But going through it is always different from what people tell you. You have to experience it.

"I'd like to think I've showed my leadership and always stood up in the face of adversity all season. I am proud to be intact and not having thrown myself off a bridge or something."

Yet it would seem that support from the chairman has dried up following the final day of the season defeat to Norwich.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who Villa tried to lure last season before he turned them down to stay at Wigan, will be among the favourites to replace McLeish. Rafael Benitez and Alan Curbishley are also likely to be in the frame.

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