Aston Villa appoint McLeish as manager
Aston Villa appointed Alex McLeish as manager less than a week after the Scot triggered a legal dispute by quitting neighbours and arch-rivals Birmingham City by email.
The move to interview McLeish, who was unable to prevent Birmingham being relegated from the Premier League last season, resulted in protests at Villa Park this week by a number of die-hard fans.
This is just a stunning appointment and I'm having a hard time justifying to myself, much less seeing how Lerner can justify it to die-hard Aston Villa fans. Just ask Hodgson what it's like to work when the supporters don't support you. Hell, ask Houllier!
As for what this might mean for Villa next season, I would assume it solidifies their defence. They need a new keeper, but there are decent ones available within the Premier League. When Big Brad left I dismissed a return to Villa for Stoke's Sorensen, but now... anything is possible with the club! I would even expect to see Young, Luke (old Star Wars nickname joke) lining up at full back next season. He seems a prototypical McLeish project.
In midfield, read Nigel Reo-Coker and Petrov for Bowyer and Ferguson with Albrighton and Downing on the wings supporting Darren Bent. The one decision is does that last spot go to a forward or a midfielder. I would think that it goes to Gabby Agbonlahor, but I would ask him to drop off Bent, rather than trying to play alongside him. Otherwise, I wonder if McLeish could try going back to the Aleksander Hleb well one more time. Injury stalled his Premier League return at Birmingham, but he did come along at the end of the season. If McLeish wants to work with him again - and he would countenance working with McLeish again - he could be the bit of creativity in the middle of the park that Villa have lacked in recent seasons.
Going through the squad, it seems a no-lose proposition to take over Villa right now. They have talent and youth, even if they are losing the cream of their crop to clubs playing in Europe next season. But appointing the immediate former manager of their fiercest cross-town rivals? That, to me, seems like turning a no-lose situation into a no-win.
What's your take?