McLeish hopes to win over Villa fans

Alex McLeish insists his previous experiences when in charge of Rangers means he is thick-skinned enough to cope with the switch from Birmingham to Aston Villa.

McLeish's move has made him public enemy number one with some sections of Blues and Villa fans after his move across the city on a three-year contract.

There has even been speculation that McLeish's own safety could be at risk from some supporters.

But McLeish coped with the intense Rangers-Celtic rivalry in Glasgow and believes that will stand him in good stead for what lies ahead.

He said: "I've got to have thick skin. I managed Rangers. I got it in the neck from those fans up there at times and I came through that and I'll come through this.

"That experience doesn't make me absolutely totally used to it. No one can ever get used to it.

"But I am thick-skinned, I've had experience of it and that should stand me in good stead.

"I won't say it won't ever happen again but I've got to show the fans I can turn it around and hopefully the fans chanting against me coming here, will be chanting my name."

McLeish, who discussed the move "at length" with his family, admits he was "a little surprised" by the hostility but hopes it will not get out of hand.

He said: "I'm sure a few people wanted to punch me! At the same time, I can understand the passions and emotions of football.

"As long as it doesn't get out of control, then I can understand people's feelings.

"Have the passion but don't let it don't to extremes."

McLeish added: "Am I fazed by it? No. Have I had it before? Yes.

"Have I come out of it stronger? Yes, so I really look forward to the challenge of managing this fantastic football club."

McLeish is determined to win over the Villa fans but knows there will be more pressure on him to achieve positive results because of the nature of his move.

He said: "Maybe there is a bit more pressure on me from that point of view to get results.

"But, at the same time, it is the remit of every manager, in any job, about getting a good start, a fast start, and Martin Jol will be saying the same thing at Fulham.

"The message to the fans is let me prove myself and I'll win you over.

"It's not a case of proving them wrong because I want to go forward with the Villa fans.

"I want to prove to them that I am the man for this job."

McLeish would also have no qualms about returning to St. Andrew's to try to sign players if he thought they would enhance Villa.

He has already been linked with moves for keeper Ben Foster, defenders Roger Johnson and Scott Dann plus midfielder Barry Ferguson.

McLeish said: "I know there are many great Blues players there but the policy I've always maintained at any club I've ever been at is never to talk about any other club's players.

"I'm getting bombarded over the last couple of days with text messages from agents and clubs asking me about this player and that player, and would I want them.

"We are just going to assess things at the moment, look at the squad.

"If a Blues player was the right fit, I don't think it would put me off. If I thought a player could improve Aston Villa then why not?"

With Ashley Young set to join Manchester United, McLeish wants to keep hold of Stewart Downing who is being linked with a move to Liverpool.

He said: "I don't know if the Young deal is a fait accompli but I'll certainly be looking to try and keep Stewart (Downing)."

McLeish confirmed that Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister was leaving the club but Gordon Cowans was remaining as one of his first team coaches.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas