English Premiership

Villa seek clarity on McLeish

2011-06-13 21:25
Alex McLeish (File)

Birmingham - Aston Villa have reportedly approached city rivals Birmingham to ask about the precise status of Alex McLeish.

The Scot resigned as manager of Birmingham, relegated from the Premier League last season, on Sunday and was immediately linked with a move to Villa, still in the top flight but without a boss after Gerard Houllier stepped down on health grounds.

Britain's Press Association reported on Monday that Villa had sent an e-mail to Birmingham seeking clarification of McLeish's position.

Peter Pannu, the acting chairman of Birmingham, is furious over McLeish's move and said: "He is still on our contracted staff and Birmingham City FC does not grant him any right to speak to any outsiders until the matter is resolved.

"It's about time discipline is instilled into this game and I am not a person who gets pushed about."

England's League Managers Association, which has repeatedly slammed clubs for sacking bosses and not giving them enough time to turn teams around, has been noticeably silent over McLeish's move and that of Mark Hughes, who earlier this month resigned as manager of Premier League Fulham.

But former Villa and England manager Graham Taylor criticised the way the club, owned by American businessman Randy Lerner, had sought a replacement for Houllier.

"It just doesn't appear to have been thought through and for the first time the ownership of the club is coming under severe criticism," Taylor told the BBC.

"When Gerard became ill it must have occurred to them that he may not come back, even if the signs were that he may have returned.

"This is not being disrespectful to Gerard in any way, but once he became unwell then you have to immediately start exploring what you might do if he does not come back.

"It doesn't appear to me and many others that this has been done. They seem to be going from name to name.

"Villa don't seem to have grasped that nettle at all. It is disappointing. I still live in the area and have a special feeling for them as you always do about clubs you have managed, but I have been surprised and disappointed at their handling of this."

But Taylor said McLeish would cope with the fall-out from taking charge of Birmingham's arch-rivals were he to get the Villa Park job.

"I think Alex has the strength of character but it won't be easy for him. He has a hardness about him," Taylor said of the former Scotland centre-half and manager, who has also been in charge of Hibernian and Rangers.

"It would be difficult though, because many Villa fans would not want a Birmingham man as their manager and many Birmingham supporters might see him as a traitor. He is a strong man though, and I think he could cope with that."

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