Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

McLeish enjoys Villa reception

Alex McLeish

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has admitted to feeling pride in taking his first walk down the Villa Park touchline ahead of an impressive 3-1 home win for his side against Blackburn.

The vitriol and animosity that had greeted McLeish's appointment as Villa manager two months ago, in light of his past allegiance to bitter city rivals Birmingham, was a thing of the past as the fans gave the Scot a reception to remember.

The 90 minutes that followed was also heartwarming for both McLeish and a 32,000 crowd as goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and Darren Bent carried Villa to a 3-1 win. McLeish said: "The vibes I was getting is that (the reception) was going to be something to look forward to."

He added: "People might have headlined it that I was worried, but that was not the case. I don't like to use that kind of term. I was really looking forward to walking down the track, and it was a proud moment for myself and my family when I did.

"Of course, everybody likes to be loved! But we know what football is like, it is a game that can be fickle, and like any manager on the planet you have to get results.

"But I have to admit the Villa fans were excellent. It was a decent crowd having played Blackburn about 12 times in the last two years."

For opposite number Steve Kean, though, it has been eight days to forget since the season began, with back-to-back losses sandwiching a court appearance where he was banned from driving for 18 months for drink-driving.

Attempting to extract the positives, Kean said: "I thought we started the game well. If we look back at the goal we gave away, the first was fantastic from Agbonlahor, but we're disappointed with the second because it took an unfortunate deflection off Pedersen.

"We then spoke at half-time about how we would come out for the second half, and I thought we were excellent, we scored the goal and Villa were on the back foot.

"The third goal then killed us because once we scored we were in the ascendancy. If we'd got a second it would have been game on and we could have possibly gone on to win the game, never mind draw."

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