Alex McLeish was named Aston Villa manager on the 20 June 2011, just five days after leaving our local rivals Birmingham City. The Scotsman signed a three year deal said to be worth around £6,000,000.There was a lot of controversy over the appointment from both McLeish’s former club and fans of Aston Villa. Birmingham City claimed that Villa had poached there manager who was still under contract despite him offering his resignation and a small minority of Villa fans were protesting at the decision to take a man who has twice been relegated in just three years.
McLeish made Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given his first signing in a deal said to be worth around £3,500,000.
Before Aston Villa
After a successful playing career when McLeish made well over 400 appearances for Aberdeen, the Scot went into football manager very quickly with Motherwell – one year before retiring as a player. Despite finishing 2nd in the Scottish Premiership in his first season in charge, he was unable to build on this and instead had to fight for relegation during his next two seasons in charge.
In 1998, Alex took control of a struggling Hibernian side who had just been relegated. He guided them to promotion at the first time of asking by winning the First Division Championship. In there first season back in Scotland’s top Division they achieved a respectable mid-table position. The following season the manager started to get attention from bigger clubs including West Ham United and Glasgow Rangers, after steering Hibs’ to a Third place finish and a Scottish Cup final appearance.
December 2001, McLeish was named manager of Rangers after being recommended by outgoing manager Dick Advocaat and he became an instant hit at the Old Firm club. In his five year spell at Ibrox he won no less than five domestic Trophies including two Premier League titles. The 2005-06 season was an up and down season for both McLeish and Rangers. He guided the Gers’ to the last 16 of the Champions League but wasn’t doing to well on the domestic front. Following a 3-0 defeat against his former club Hibernian, Rangers fans protested to get both Chairman David Murray and McLeish out of there club. On 9 February 2006 it was announced that Alex McLeish will step down from his position as manager at the end of the season.
When Alex left Rangers he stated he would never manage in Scotland again as he felt he had won everything that was to offer in the Scottish Game. On 29th January 2007, the SFA announced that Alex McLeish would become manager of the Scotland National side. His first game was a Uefa Euro 2008 qualifier which ended with a 2-1 win over Georgia at Hampden Park.
Following a 2-0 defeat to Italy, Scotland went on a little unbeaten run. They managed wins over Faroe Islands, Lithuania and a famous 1-0 win over France in Paris thanks to James McFadden. Scotland then topped the group but two defeats in there final three games meant the lost out to Italy to qualify for Euro 2008.
27 November 2008 Alex McLeish resigned from his post amid rumors that Birmingham City were interested in his services. The following day he was named manager of Birmingham, and stated that he wanted to return to working with players on a daily basis and “always harboured a desire” to manage in the Premier League. Despite a 3-2 win in his first game against Tottenham and a impressive 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers, McLeish was unable to keep Birmingham in the Premiership as they were relegated back to the Championship.
On the final day of the 2008-09 season, McLeish had guided Birmingham back into the Premiership at the first attempt following a 2-1 win away at Reading. The following season he set records at St. Andrews after leading them to a 12-match unbeaten run and was named Premier League Manager of the Month for December – the first ever Birmingham manager to achieve this feat. They finished the season in a very respectable 9th.
In February 2011, Alex lead Birmingham to League Cup victory after a shock 2-1 win over favorites Arsenal at Wembley. However, following this Birmingham went on a bad run and were eventually relegated on the last day of the season. The board decided that the manager would keep his job and he would be expected to guide Blues back to the Premiership at the first time of asking. However, the Scot decided to quit the club by e-mail on 12th June 2011.
McLeish led Aston Villa to a 16th place finish in the 2011-12 Premiership season, avoiding the drop by just two points. He also set a unwanted record of only four home wins in a league season.
Following much pressure from the Aston Villa faithful Alex McLeish was sacked as manager on 14 May 2012, the day after the season had ended.