Often Partisan

McLeish to Villa? No way

Whilst the summer hasn’t been a bundle of laughs for us Bluenoses, it’s not been kind to our brethren from across the expressway either. Having decided to get rid of their manager, they’re gradually working their way down a shortlist of managers who are knocking them back faster than a Scotsman on New Year’s Eve. It had to happen; aat the current time of writing, Ladbrokes have McLeish at 2-1 to be the next Villa manager. Has the world gone mad?

History shows the antipathy between the two second city clubs. Only one manager ever has managed both sides – Ron Saunders – and he left Aston Villa to become Birmingham City manager, just before the scene of Aston Villa’s greatest triumph in Rotterdam. Not one boss has made the return trek from Small Heath to Witton. It’s just not something that is done – very few players make the trip from Blues directly to Villa, let alone management. The last to do so was Alan Curbishley in 1983 (if you rule out Chris Sutton, who was a free agent when signed by Villa). What makes people think McLeish is going to do the same thing?

Whilst McLeish has won a major trophy with Birmingham City, I can’t see him being an ideal candidate for the job anyway. This is a manager who has taken the Villa’s hated rivals to relegation for the second time in four seasons. Apparently Villa backed out of offering the job to Steve McLaren, because of negative noises coming from the pink and baby blue faithful. If McLaren, who won a title with FC Twente in Holland and is recognised by many within the game as an excellent club coach makes the Holte End faithful twitchy, how are they going to react to having McLeish in the job? There’d be riots, surely?

Last Friday I posted this article, (correctly) refuting McLeish’s chances of taking the Fulham job. People seemed to think because he had a house in the area he’d be an automatic choice for al-Fayed and the Fulham board. Football doesn’t work like that; and this is a similar case. The Villa board know that they have to appoint someone who is going to at least appear to match the aspirations of the pink and baby blue lot; they have no chance of breaking the top six but they have to be seen to be trying. As much as I’ve admired McLeish in the past, I can’t see his achievements matching those aspirations.

I don’t particularly care who gets the poisoned chalice over at Villa Park. No doubt when the sacrificial victim is installed, the Villa fans will declare him the man to take them to the promised land, only to hound the same messiah out of the club within six months. It has no bearing whatsoever on our season really, and I’d prefer to focus my energies on what is happening in B9 over B6. However, I’m going to offer some advice to those who are thinking of putting money on McLeish to make the jump across the city – don’t bother. It’s not going to happen.

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