Date:Thursday January 12 2012
An open letter from Alex McLeish to the Villa season ticket holders.
Must admit, I'd prefer this sort of communication than no communication but I'm sure for many it will be ripped apart!
So here goes:
I am writing firstly to thank you for your continuing, invaluable support of this great Football Club. I understand that investing in a season ticket is a big commitment, especially in these challenging financial times, and I wanted you to know that myself, the playing squad and all of the other staff at Aston Villa really do appreciate your contribution to working for success.
It is now just over six months since I received and was delighted to accept the offer from Randy Lerner to become manager of Villa. Of course I was well aware that my appointment would be controversial and I recognise that in many ways it was a courageous decision by the Chairman to give me this opportunity. Although I knew that some of the Villa fans would find it difficult to accept me given my previous managerial position, I did not have a moment's hesitation in accepting the chance to manage a club with such an illustrious history and with such tremendous potential as Aston Villa.
I can't pretend that the first half of the season has not been without its setbacks and disappointments, all of which have been felt as intensely by myself and the players as I know they have been by Villa`s fans. Having had a relatively short pre-season to get to know and work with the players, I was reasonably satisfied with the start we made. As you know, the team went unbeaten in the first seven games in the Barclays Premier League and I felt we were unfortunate not to secure more than two wins during that period. Since then our form has fluctuated frustratingly with some very good performances away at Bolton, Stoke and, of course, Chelsea but more disappointing displays at home to Manchester United, Liverpool and, in particular, Swansea.
So the mid-term report for myself and the team should perhaps read, "Satisfactory progress, can do better." Certainly, I think that would be a fair and balanced assessment. For a Premier League club we have a relatively inexperienced first team squad overall but what we lack in experience, I believe, is at least partially compensated for by the quality of our senior players and the potential of the younger players. It is a tribute to Villa`s superb Academy and a source of pride within the club that we have produced such players as Ciaran, Chris, Marc and Barry and I believe there will be more to come.
Our aim is to create players in the mould of the top players we have seen and appreciated at this club over many years and we will also add more quality when the opportunities are there. I am convinced that we have every reason to be optimistic going into the second half of the season. We have a squad with a blend of very experienced international players combined with the exciting potential of the club`s home-grown youngsters. In this transfer window we have added to the squad young Enda Stevens, whom we signed from Shamrock Rovers, and Robbie Keane on a two-months loan from LA Galaxy. Enda is 21 years old, he has experience already of playing in the Europa League and he has potential. Robbie is at the peak of his football playing knowledge, he has leadership qualities which will make him valuable not only on the pitch but also in our dressing room and he has great movement which can hurt opposition defences and create opportunities for himself and others in our team. I am confident therefore that in the coming months my coaching staff and I can continue to work with these players to help them deliver performances and results that Villa fans will enjoy and feel proud of.
I know that some people have sought to perpetuate a myth that I am a naturally defensively-minded manager. However, this is a case of certain people not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Having played in an Aberdeen team that got used to winning trophies regularly - including the European Cup Winners Cup - and having steered Glasgow Rangers to seven trophies in three seasons, I can assure you that my appetite for attacking, winning football is second to none. I am aware that the myth about me being defensively-minded has concerned some Villa fans who rightly relish seeing their team playing fluent, attacking football. However, please be assured that I share your desire to see Villa play dynamic, exciting football which entertains whilst, of course, securing the results we all want.
I make no apology for declaring that I am an ambitious person with an unquenchable desire for success. That ambition took me from Motherwell and Hibs to Glasgow Rangers followed by a successful period as Scotland boss. I came to the Premier League to compete in the best league in the world and the opportunity to become manager of one of the best clubs in the league in Aston Villa represents one of the greatest honours in my career so far.
We all know that football is an unpredictable business but I would like to think that my time here as manager will be a long and rewarding one. I can guarantee my total commitment to working tirelessly to bring as much success as possible to Aston Villa.
Finally, I thank you again for your dedication to this club and I wish you a very Happy New Year. Let`s work together to ensure that 2012 becomes a year full of wonderful memories for Aston Villa and for you, Villa fans.
Date:Thursday January 12 2012
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