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By Tony Attwood
I heard the news that this seemed to be on the cards when Ian sent me a text while I was on holiday in France. I texted back saying, “I can’t believe it. The Villa fans will never stand for it.”
I didn’t express that opinion through any specific knowledge of Villa or Birmingham fans, but simply knowing that they are the big rivals. It is obvious, simple and straightforward: they hate each other.
Now it is true (as we are all painfully aware) that McLeish has brought Birmingham a cup. But given that he has also brought relegation he can’t actually be seen to be a big success at Birmingham. More like an abject failure.
And this issue of success matters because it affects the way fans see transfers between rivals. When Sol came from the Evil Empire to Arsenal I believe he was widely welcomed because it was a slap around the face for the Tinies. Sol was their best player, and he had reached the end of his contract and so was a free agent. He chose us. Ha ha ha. Well I laughed and so did my pal Roger. And as Sol began to take control of the defence we laughed even more.
But McLeish to Villa is a matter of a different colour. He’s a lesser being, a little man, a person of minor significance, who did one great thing as far as a Villa fan sees it – he got the BlueNoses sent down to their spiritual home in the second division. He was also manager of Scotland, and you don’t get much lower than that.
Now the Villa mob are up in arms and burning their season tickets (so I am told). And what has this man got to say about it all. He has “expressed surprise at the level of anger he has provoked”.
That is like saying “when the 10 ton lorry hit my leg I was surprised at the pain I felt.”
What sort of moron do you have to be to be surprised at Villa fans’ anger? 10,000 Brums have joined a Facebook campaign calling on Villa’s owner, Randy Lerner, not to hire the McLeish. He has received death threats and the graffiti everywhere is what we might call “offensive”. That is not surprising.
To which the new man responds:
“Moving across the city has stirred some emotions, which I did not anticipate.”
Then Mr McLeish, your knowledge of football is somewhat lower than my ability to play defensive midfield for the Benelux Supporters Club in the recent five a side tournament on the Emirates pitch. You are a dolt, Mr McLeish because football is about tribalism, passion, the heart, one’s club, one’s values, one’s origins. Which bit of “it is all about emotions” do you not get?
Here’s another reason why people might get angry. He resigned from Birmingham via an email sent to the club’s acting chairman. Does that give Villa fans the confidence that this is a man of upstanding probity who will stay in his job?
So now what is this turnip talking about? He is talking about winning Villa fans over!!!!!!!!!
Of course you might think that having put both feet right in it he might move to the Seychelles for a while, but no. Here he is again: “I wouldn’t say Birmingham played bad football.” Oh right. Another nice one for his new found friends at Villa.
Birmingham are of course laughing at having got rid of such a failure, having annoyed their neighbours, and having the chance of picking up some much needed money (they want £5.4m in compensation). Villa are believed to have told Birmingham that given that the manager got them relegated 5.4p would be a more realistic amount.
By and large, looking at McLeish’s track record in fan management, they are probably right.
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