Sunday, 10 July 2011

Aston Villa and Alex McLeish – A marriage destined to fail


So, after weeks of rumours, rejecting and rejections, Aston Villa have finally got a manager.

Their new manager is of course, former Birmingham City manager, Alex McLeish.

But there are times in life, when two people who are clearly wrong for each other end up being together. You may think to yourself or tell your mates, ‘That relationship wont last long.’ The same notion is apparent in football, especially when thinking about Aston Villa and their new manager, Alex McLeish.

This appointment is so odd. It’s like two people with conflicting values or ties getting married. It reminds of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

And like that love story, it’s destined to go wrong.

To the Villa fans, the appointment of Alex McLeish sends a message of a lack of ambition from Randy Lerner.

To put this into context, last season Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City were relegated. In his three Premier League seasons with Birmingham City, twice he has been relegated. How can this enthral the fans? How can the fans have hearts filled with optimism when they know they have a manager who has a knack at getting his teams in a dog fight at the bottom end of the table?

Aston Villa’s last two managers symbolised the clubs ambition. In Martin O’Neil, Aston Villa had a successful manager, who was well respected by the Villa fans. While in Gerard Houllier, Aston Villa had a manager who had won various cups throughout his management career.

However, with Alex McLeish, although he has been highly successful in Scotland especially with Rangers, he has hardly captured the Villa fans minds and hearts. One fan commented, ‘we had a disastrous season [Last season], I feel with him [Alex McLeish] in charge it will be a lot worse.’

The statistics horrify the Aston Villa fans too. McLeish’s Birmingham last season had the fewest shots in the whole of the Premier League (314 shots) and they scored the least amount of goals in the league too (37 goals). Of course this unsettles the Villa fans, as Villa traditionally play attacking football and score many goals.

For many clubs, the relationship between the fans and manager is crucial in how long the manager survives. If the manager is adored by his fans, it often gives the manager time and patience. While if the fans dislike the manager, it often means the fans are more inflammable and hostile towards the manager and his decisions.

The passionate opposition towards Alex McLeish being the manager of Aston Villa is symbolised by the protests outside Villa Park. One protesting Villa fan said, ‘we don’t want rejects from there [Birmingham].’ This suggests Alex McLeish is fighting a battle he will never win.

However, the feeling of discontent will further alleviate if the results do not go Villa’s way.

If, Villa go through a poor run of form at the start of the season, the fans will instantly target Alex McLeish. The Scotsmen may expect this, but it will make Villa Park a highly pressurised environment.

In McLeish’s first press conference for Aston Villa, the new manager commented, ‘Let me prove myself and I’ll win you over.’ The grim reality is that many Villa fans will not give McLeish a chance to prove himself. After all, he is by no means an ideal candidate in the fans eyes.

There is something incredibly ironic about Aston Villa’s hunt for a new manager. Steve McClaren, was rumoured to be short listed for the Villa job. However, due to the negative reception from the fans towards McClaren, the board removed him from the shortlist.

However, with Alex McLeish, a man who most Villa fans passionately oppose, the club appointed him as manager. It’s incredible how the club showed respect and value towards the fans, but then betrayed the fans so painfully by appointing a hated figure to lead their beloved Aston Villa.

It’s abundantly clear that the marriage between Aston Villa and Alex McLeish will stutter severely. The Villa fans have little faith in McLeish. One Villa fan commented, ‘he [Alex McLeish] is not good enough for Aston Villa.’ They are rueful towards the Villa board, as there are better candidates out there such as Mark Hughes and Rafa Benitez.

The feeling amongst the Aston Villa fans is that their team have dramatically lowered their sights and ambitions.

However, the board have got to take the rap for this mess. They have completely disregarded the fans feelings and values. One Villa fan commented, ‘I feel, Aston Villa’s board has bankrupted Aston Villa’s credibility.’ The sad thing is, most football fans, will agree with this comment.

The marriage between Alex McLeish and Aston Villa is marred with disapproval, conflict and bitterness.

Alex McLeish stated, he was ‘the man’ for the Villa job.

I give it 6 months.



Things you may like to read

Why Emile Heskey’s Premier League days are all but over

How Darren Bent’s move to Aston Villa is good for Villa

Why more English players should play abroad

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