Villa get their man but row over McLeish is sure to rumble on
Saturday 18 June 2011
Aston Villa may have concluded their protracted search for a new manager but the brouhaha over Alex McLeish's controversial appointment is set to rumble on.
McLeish himself accepts he must win over irate fans following his switch from arch-rivals Birmingham while his former club are set to continue their legal wrangling with Villa. McLeish was this morning confirmed as Gerard Houllier's successor at Villa Park just five days after he quit St Andrew's.
The 52-year-old Scot has signed a three-year contract to commence duties with immediate effect. Supporters have voiced opposition to McLeish since it became apparent he was a leading contender for the job but the former Scotland and Rangers boss is determined to prove doubters wrong.
"I know that some of our fans have voiced concerns and I can understand why," McLeish said. "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."
Birmingham accused Villa of tapping up McLeish earlier this week and have demanded £5.4m compensation to cover the remaining two years of a contract they believe he was induced to break. Villa responded to Birmingham's claims by stating they understood McLeish to be a free agent.
Birmingham did not carry out threats to report Villa to the Premier League or take out an injunction to block the move, but insist the matter is not closed.
A 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 identified McLeish as the man to restore stability at Villa Park after a unsettled year. The club fell into turmoil when Martin O'Neill resigned just five days before last season began while his successor Gerard Houllier was forced to leave the club on 1 June due to health reasons.
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."
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