McLeish hailed after meeting Aston Villa fans

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The Independent Football

New Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has been praised for "fronting up" to a section of the club's supporters.

McLeish has come under fire from some sections of fans unhappy at him being appointed because of his previous spell in charge of local rivals Birmingham.

But the Scot is determined to try and tackle the issue head-on and he invited half a dozen prominent Villa followers to meet with him at the club's Bodymoor Heath training ground yesterday.

McLeish outlined his plans and listened to any issues the group wanted to put to him in a meeting lasting more than an hour.

Jonathan Fear, editor of the Vital Villa fans' website, said: "Alex McLeish wanted to be open and honest and hear off people potentially against him.

"He wanted to see if he could get a chance to show what he can do and it was a good, positive, open meeting.

"Some people might look at this as a cynical PR exercise but Alex McLeish wanted to meet some of the fans and put his points across and listen to what people had to say.

"I don't think anyone walked out afterwards with long faces. He asked for the meeting and he is going to ask for more fans' forums.

"We all asked everything we felt was relevant and he answered it and wanted to be open and honest."

Fear believes McLeish, who resigned as Birmingham boss 11 days ago, deserves credit for facing up to supporters.

He said: "Alex could have hidden away and it would have been easier not to front up to things - as some previous managers have done.

"I was impressed with what he said at his press conference when confirmed as manager.

"People I've spoken to who know him said he is a straightforward, decent guy who deserves a chance."

Fear believes it is time for everyone to pull in the right direction at Villa.

He said: "The whole club needs it. Everyone has had their opinions and now everyone should support the club.

"Let everyone give the manager the chance to show what he can do. He deserves that."