Alex McLeish sat for his first press conference as Aston Villa manager at 2pm this afternoon, saying that it was a great honour to have been chosen by Randy Lerner as the clubs new boss and that the offer to join was one that he could not refuse. He stated: “It’s not every day you get offered a job like this. There is no way I could not have been the new manager of Aston Villa.” He added: “I have taken a lot of heart from Randy Lerner seeing something in me to take Aston Villa forward…I’ll do the utmost to prove I am the right man for this job.”
The Scot claimed that he was aware of the magnitude of the move he had made from Birmingham to Villa but was unfazed by protests and opposition from a large section of the Villa support.
During the press conference he added that he had faced fan backlash before whilst at Rangers and that his experiences had made him stronger and given him a thick skin which was necessary to take up the challenge, a decision which he claimed was the biggest, but not the most difficult he has ever had to make in his career.
McLeish thanked the Birmingham fans for their supported and despite seeing the side relegated last term, held fond memories of the club, including last seasons Carling Cup success.
The former City boss insisted that there were many topics he couldn’t discuss due to the ongoing legal battle with his old employers, including his decision to resign by email and whether or not he did so due to interest from Villa beforehand.
In terms of his transfer policy, McLeish didn’t rule out moves for his stars at Birmingham City but maintained that he would not be speaking about another clubs employees, despite confirming that the fact a number of his assumed targets were with the Blues would not necessarily put him off a move for any player he felt would improve Aston Villa Football Club.
He lauded the ‘fantastic’ squad at Villa Park, claiming that there was an excellent blend of youth and experience at the club and praising the academy set up in the process which was good to see.
The ex-Rangers manager also confirmed that Gordon Cowans would remain at the club at which he was a ‘legend’ as a first team coach and added that he was still working on bringing in some of his own members of his backroom staff.
When it came to the likely departures of some of the clubs stars, McLeish all but confirmed Ashley Young’s imminent transfer to Manchester United, but held greater hope of persuading the likes of Stewart Downing to stay, as well as adding that Carlos Cuellar may well be asked to stay and fight for his place amid interest from Rangers.
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