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Alex McLeish - The Future?


Best known in English football for spells with Aston Villa and Birmingham City - Will the Scot ever work south of the border again?

In the second of a five part series looking at out of work managers, following on from yesterday's piece on Steve Kean, we ask if Alex McLeish will ever find a job in English football again?

Alex McLeish may find a walk around Glasgow town centre a little risky, because 50 per cent of football fans have him as a marked man - Celtic supporters would not take kindly to bumping into the former Rangers boss in the street.

However in Birmingham, McLeish would encounter even more grief, for during his spell in English football he has achieved an unlikely feat in uniting fans of Birmingham City and Aston Villa - Who each have an equal distaste and dislike of him.

McLeish has the unwanted record of having relegated Birmingham City twice from the Premier League. He will of course boast he once got them promotd, and delivered their first major trophy since 1963 when he led them to win the Carling Cup, triumphing 2-1 over a silverware-allergic Arsenal.

It proved to be a hollow victory, with the club relegated just three months later, and key players sold off - The current squad is unrecognisable and they languish in 19th place in the Championship. McLeish's legacy is very much in full effect even though he is no longer manager of the club.

He of course infuriated both sets of fans by jumping ship to Aston Villa after Birmingham's 2010 relegation. Villa did not want him, partly because of the Blues connection, but largely because of his reputation for playing dour, unattractive, and most of all unsuccessful football.

He was unable to prove the doubters wrong. Villa were desperately poor last season despite having a squad of talented players, and against all odds the Scot managed to drag them into a relegation battle. You got the impression that had the season carried on an extra couple of months, rather than finishing in May, Villa would have finished bottom, such was their wretched form.

Fans were jubilant when McLeish was given the boot, and he has remained unemployed ever since. Indeed the very mention of his name in connection with any vacant manager post is enough to make fans shudder; just ask Bolton fans when his name cropped up in the wake of Owen Coyle's dismissal.

At the moment, McLeish is not a popular man, but he has one way to correct this, get back into football as quickly as possible to start proving the doubters wrong.

Steve Bruce was in a similar position last year, sacked by Sunderland his reputation was at an all-time low. He picked a low-key job at Hull City, largely out of the national spotlight to begin rebuilding and has had good success so far, helping them to climb to fifth place in the Championship table, winning six of their last 10.

McLeish will need to do the same, that is if he can find a job even in the Championship. Like Steve Kean, he is presently pretty unemployable in the Premier League, but the lower down the football pyramid you go, the more likely he is to find a position.

He still has copious experience, which will be attractive to some Football League chairmen, and is one of a select group of managers who can at least say he has won a domestic trophy in England in the last decade. 

We just suggest that he gives the Midlands a miss altogether and has a completely fresh start.

Will McLeish find another job? Which would be the perfect club for him?

image: © andyreid1

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