Aston Villa appoint Alex McLeish as manager

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The Independent Sport

Aston Villa have confirmed the controversial appointment of former Birmingham boss Alex McLeish as their new manager.

McLeish makes the move across the city just five days after resigning from his post at St Andrew's.

Villa have held off fierce opposition from their own supporters and a bitter row with Blues to bring in the 52-year-old.

Villa this morning released a lengthy statement detailing the Scot's virtues and achievements, most notably the seven trophies he won in charge of Rangers, in an attempt to justify the decision to fans.

The most sceptical, however, will take more convincing after their opposition culminated with a protest at Villa Park on Wednesday.

McLeish himself accepts he will have to win the doubters over.

The Scot told the club's website, "I am honoured to have this opportunity to manage a club with such a fantastic history as Aston Villa's.

"The heritage, the history of success and the tradition of Aston Villa are compelling and irresistible. The challenge for me is to try to add my own chapter.

"Since first becoming a manager at Motherwell, my desire to succeed and my energy and drive have never waned.

"My objective is to impart that drive and will to win to the players and fans of Aston Villa.

"I know that some of our fans have voiced concerns and I can understand why.

"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."

Villa have not yet confirmed the length of McLeish's contract but have said he will commence duties immediately, underlining their confidence there are no lingering issues concerning Birmingham.

Blues, however, remain far from happy with the situation and are continuing to take legal advice.

The St Andrew's club accused their rivals of tapping up the former Scotland boss earlier this week and demanded £5.4million in compensation to cover the remaining two years of his broken contract.

They also threatened to report Villa to the Premier League and take out an injunction to block the move and, although neither was carried out, they insist the matter is not yet over.

A Birmingham 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.

"As the club is currently enforcing its legal right with Mr McLeish the matter is in the hands of our lawyers and it is therefore not appropriate for the club to make any further comment at this stage.

"The club will continue its full efforts on recruiting a new manager and hope to make an appointment as soon as possible."

Villa, who switched their attention to McLeish after being snubbed by Wigan's Roberto Martinez last week, started speaking to McLeish this week on the understanding he was a free agent.

McLeish becomes Villa's third full-time manager in nine months and the club need him to restore stability after a difficult season.

Martin O'Neill resigned just five days before the 2010-11 campaign began and his successor Gerard Houllier made a number of PR gaffes and got involved in a relegation battle before leaving after a health scare.

The appointment ends a long-running saga which has seen several names linked with the position.

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner said: "We believe we have appointed the right man for the job.

"Unquestionably, Alex meets the criteria we set out at the beginning of our search which was based on proven Premier League experience, leadership, a hard-working ethic and, most importantly, a shared vision for Aston Villa."

McLeish had been in charge at Birmingham since 2007 and won the Carling Cup last season before seeing the campaign end in relegation.

He began his managerial career with Motherwell in 1994 before his spells in charge of Hibernian, Rangers, Scotland and Birmingham.