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McCleish confirmed as new Aston Villa manager

Aston Villa have confirmed the controversial and somewhat bizarre appointment of Alex McCleish as their new manager just five days after he resigned from his job at bitter rivals Birmingham City.

Although McCleish guided the Blues to a respectable top-half finish in the Premier League two seasons ago, the club’s league form plummeted this year following their surprise Carling Cup victory over Arsenal in April and they were ultimately relegated to the Championship.

Faced with the precarious task of winning promotion straight back to the Premiership from the increasingly competitive Championship, as well as Birmingham’s uncertain financial situation, it is easy to understand why McCleish decided to jump ship.

What is difficult to understand, however, is the logic behind Villa owner Randy Lerner’s decision to risk alienating fans by appointing the manager of their closest rivals. The club’s supporters never took to Gerard Houllier last season and McCleish will have to hit the ground running if he is to have any chance of being accepted.

Speaking on the Villa website, the 52-year-old former Rangers manager acknowledged the difficult road ahead. ‘I am honoured to have this opportunity to manage a club with such a fantastic history as Aston Villa's.’ .

‘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.’

It looks like McCleish’s first act as Villa will be the sale of Ashley Young to Manchester United. A great way to endear yourself to the Birmingham club’s loyal fan base. First Premier League manager to be fired next season? Watch this space.

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