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McLeish named as Villa boss

Aston Villa have confirmed the controversial appointment of former Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish as their new manager, despite a series of protests from angry supporters.

• Fergie backing for McLeish
• Blues demand £5.4m
• Blog: Fury should be aimed at Lerner

McLeish, who quit Villa's arch-rivals on Sunday, is an unpopular choice to replace Gerrard Houllier but the Premier League club's chief executive Paul Faulkner expects the Scot will win the fans over.

"We believe we have appointed the right man for the job," Faulker said. "Alex's vast experience and proven abilities demonstrate clearly that he is a strong leader and an ambitious man and we are looking forward very much to the exciting new season about to start."

McLeish, who on the Carling Cup last season before being relegated with Birmingham is delighted to back in the Premier League and looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead at Villa Park.

"I am honoured to have this opportunity to manage a club with such a fantastic history as Aston Villa's," McLeish said. "The heritage, the history of success and the tradition of Aston Villa are compelling and irresistible. The challenge for me is to try to add my own chapter.

"Since first becoming a manager at Motherwell, my desire to succeed and my energy and drive have never waned. My objective is to impart that drive and will to win to the players and fans of Aston Villa.

"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.''

Villa have not yet confirmed the length of McLeish's contract but have said the Scot will commence duties immediately, underlining their confidence there are no lingering issues concerning compensation claims from Birmingham.

Blues were angered when it became apparent McLeish was a contender for the Villa vacancy and accused their rivals of tapping up the former Rangers and Scotland boss.

The St Andrew's club accused their rivals of tapping up the former Scotland boss earlier this week and demanded £5.4 million in compensation to cover the remaining two years of his broken contract.

They also threatened to report Villa to the Premier League and take out an injunction to block the move and, although neither was carried out, they insist the matter is not yet over.

A Birmingham statement read: "The fact that Alex McLeish has been appointed as manager of Aston Villa does not, in any way, mean that the legal dispute is over and Birmingham City Football Club maintains its stance and shall vigorously pursue the matter.

"We are very disappointed with how the club and its fans have been treated by Mr McLeish, given the way we have supported him over the years and we are still looking into whether Aston Villa's conduct has been in line with Premier League rules.

McLeish becomes Villa's third full-time manager in nine months and his firstgame of the new Premier League season will be away at Fulham on August 13.

Faulkner added: "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. Alex is someone with whom we will work closely and work well together.

"With our strong squad combining the necessary virtues of experience and the exciting potential of our young players, our objective is to compete as strongly as we possibly can."

"Alex's vast experience and proven abilities demonstrate clearly that he is a strong leader and an ambitious man and we are looking forward very much to the exciting new season about to start.''


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