Aston Villa appoint Alex McLeish as manager

Aston Villa appointed Alex McLeish as their new manager Friday, less than a week after the Scot quit...

Aston Villa's English striker Emile Heskey (L) vies with Chelsea's English defender John Terry (R) during their English Premier League football match. Picture:

Aston Villa appointed Alex McLeish as their new manager Friday, less than a week after the Scot quit arch-rivals and city-neighbours Birmingham City by email.

The move to interview McLeish, who was unable to prevent Birmingham from being relegated from the Premier League last season, resulted in protests at Villa Park by a number of die-hard fans earlier this week.

McLeish, a former central defender who served Aberdeen and Scotland for many years, succeeds Gerard Houllier who resigned on June 1 through ill health.

"I am honoured to have this opportunity to manage a club with such a fantastic history as Aston Villa's," McLeish said on the club's website (www.avfc.co.uk).

"I know that some of our fans have voiced concerns and I can understand why.

"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."

The 52-year-old established his managerial reputation at Scottish Premier League clubs Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers before taking over as Scotland manager in January 2007.

'RIGHT MAN'

The national team appointment did not last long as he moved to England to replace Steve Bruce at Birmingham in November of that year.

Birmingham were relegated at the end of his first season but he took them straight back up to the top flight for the 2009/10 campaign where they finished ninth, their highest position for more than half a century.

This year proved to be a very mixed one as McLeish went from the highs of stunning Arsenal in the League Cup final to the lows of a dramatic decline in league form which ended in relegation on the final day of the season.

Villa had a lacklustre season, finishing ninth, and Houllier was forced to relinquish control for the last five games of the season after he was confined to bed for eight days in April a decade after undergoing open heart surgery.

The 63-year-old then stepped down and Villa approached Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez, among others, to fill the vacancy but the Spaniard opted to stay put and McLeish became available soon after.

"We believe we have appointed the right man for the job," Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner said.

"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."