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McLeish - No regrets

Image: Alex McLeish: Former Aston Villa manager has told Sky Sports he has no regrets about his time in charge

Alex McLeish insists he has no regrets about taking the Aston Villa job as he plots his return to management.

Former Aston Villa boss plotting his return to management

Alex McLeish insists he has no regrets about taking the Aston Villa job as he plots his return to management.   The Scot is currently out of work after leaving Villa following a difficult 12-month spell in charge of the Premier League club.  McLeish is enjoying his time away from football, but he admits he is eager to get back into management.  He admits he probably needed the break after a draining year in charge at Villa where he was fighting fires on and off the pitch.  McLeish's appointment was met with a frosty reception from some Villa fans due to his connections with fierce rivals Birmingham City and he failed to totally win over his sceptics.  The 53-year-old's tenure at Villa was not helped by the loss of key performers Ashley Young and Stewart Downing and the long-term injury to star striker Darren Bent. McLeish, however, has no axe to grind with Villa chairman Randy Lerner over his departure and believes that, given more time, he could have got things right at Villa Park by improving the quality in the squad.


"I am enjoying my break as my last one was when I left Rangers in 2006, but even then I couldn't stay away from work as I went to Australia with my wife and daughter and I studied the analytical side of other sports they play," McLeish, who won the Carling Cup with Birmingham and led them back into the Premier League, told Sky Sports. "No one likes being out of work and I am eager to get back into management.   "I definitely needed a break as there is no getting away from it - things were tough at Villa. It was a draining year as there was no real respite as a faction of fans were against me from day one.  "I have no regrets about taking the job. I knew there was a project there and I agreed to take it on.  "The project was to reduce the wage bill and remain competitive and it was a tough challenge as we were lacking quality in certain areas of the squad "But expectations at Villa are so high and, rightly so, because they are a massive club with a phenomenal history. "The fans believe they should be in the top four, the top six, but the quality was not there and the squad was quite inexperienced.  "Villa lost a lot of quality and know-how from their personnel that summer; when firstly Kyle Walker went back to Spurs after playing an instrumental role in keeping the club in the Premier League under Gerard Houllier.  "Then the club also lost Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Nigel Reo-Coker - all quality experienced players - therefore the squad was thin on cover and if there were injuries to senior players we knew we would have a battle on our hands.
"Circumstances decreed that I had to turn to young players who were probably in all honesty not ready for the Villa team at the time. But credit to the young lads, they showed great courage and bottle and I think they can be proud they finished above teams with more Premier League experience than them. "I think Villa will benefit from that in the future in that those young players have learned so much from the experience and it will only help them become better players. "One season in charge is not enough to get a team to where Villa should be, but the ambience around the club didn't allow me to continue. "I am sure we would have finished a few places up the table had we not lost the experienced players and drew too many games in winning positions. "However, to get where Villa fans want to be will not be an overnight job. The squad I inherited lost a lot of attacking quality when Young and Downing both left and unfortunately the quality in the squad was not there. "I brought in Jermaine Jenas to add some quality to the side but unfortunately he barely kicked a ball for Aston Villa because of injury.  "I also had signings lined up like Gylfi Sigurdsson to change things around and improve the quality in the squad. "I played four attacking players in every game and with the introduction of players such as Jenas or Sigurdsson and an overall freshening of the squad there's no question we would have improved." McLeish believes the lack of quality in his squad was illustrated when England international Bent missed 17 games through injury and none of his other forwards in the squad were able to fill the void. In Bent's absence Villa only scored ten goals with rookie striker Andreas Weimann the only striker to find the net in that period with two goals. "I lost Darren Bent for 17 games and in those games none of my experienced strikers, although they did well for me and showed other qualities, they could not convert the chances created that Darren would normally put away," added McLeish.  "Any manager will tell you that you win games with your strikers as they are the ones who can prove the difference when a game is tight or cagey. Darren is a proven goalscorer and any team is going to miss someone like that. "I also lost my captain through illness and the players had to dig in when times were tough." 
McLeish has turned down several job offers this summer and he admits he will wait for the right opportunity before stepping back into the managerial hotseat.  "I have had a few offers from a few clubs abroad this summer, but I did not feel the time is right," added McLeish, who won two SPL titles and five cups during his Rangers tenure.   "I was also mentioned in connection with the Nottingham Forest job, but I asked my agent to inform them that I was not going to apply for the job as I did not feel I could totally commit to the job at the time  "I have not been out of work since leaving school and it is not something I like, but at the same time I needed the break to recharge the batteries and come back all guns blazing.   "I feel refreshed and I certainly hope to be back in work in the near future.   "It won't be long until the mad season gets going again when managers come and go and I will see what opportunities come my way."

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