This morning, Aston Villa officially confirmed what we all knew was coming: Alex McLeish is the club's fifth manager in the past eleven months. As could have probably been expected, the official statement skirts around the issue of enraged Aston Villa fans. In fact, the only mention of the furor is an oblique one by McLeish himself:
"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."
I, like most of you, am having trouble coming up with positives for this, but McLeish's track record of successful, winning soccer is undeniable. He manages with a defender's mentality, and that could be good for the club. Last season, the worst part of the team was unquestionably the back line. If McLeish can solidify them, I imagine we won't be seeing so many points dropped from winning positions this year.
And I have to imagine that some of McLeish's negative style at Birmingham City was due in part to the club he was given to manage; one run on a shoestring budget whose primary aspirations were to stay up. Logically, there is no way McLeish can use Aston Villa as he did Birmingham. We've got one of the most dynamic goal-scorers in the game in Darren Bent, and one of the most creative midfielders alive in Barry Bannan. (Heck, maybe the fact that Bannan and McLeish are both Scottish will mean that we see more of Wee Barry.) Couple that with Marc Albrighton and (hopefully) Stewart Downing, and this is a club that begs for a flowing game. Villa almost always looked best last season when they were on the counter-attack. They were incredibly opportunistic at times, and it is possible that McLeish takes advantage of that.
If he can improve the defense (through transfers and training) while adapting his style to what Villa have, McLeish has the ability to be a very successful manager. I'm not convinced that he will do any of this, but I have to stay optimistic, and this is the best route I see.
Two other positives. First, it's obvious that McLeish hates the Scum as much as we do, or he will by the time this is all done. We can relate to that! And hey, at least we don't all have to worry about where to put an accent in this guy's name.