Incoming Aston Villa boss planning to raid Birmingham

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Alex McLeish has achieved the unenviable feat of managing to alienate practically the entire population of the second city by resigning as Birmingham boss and entering discussions to take over as manager of rivals Aston Villa.

The Scottish tactician is expected to be successful in his bid to immediately return to work down the road, with the latest reports indicating that he will be appointed in the next 24 hours, and his alleged first transfer target is set to create more controversy.

Sky Sports are claiming that the former Rangers and Scotland chief is eager to poach one of his shrewder purchases during his time with the Blues, centre back Scott Dann, in a move that would further intensify the bad feeling between the clubs.

It may be that the media, noting the fury that McLeish’s imminent arrival at Villa Park has provoked, are stirring things up, however even if it were true and Birmingham were willing to do business, Villa would have to fight off interest from Liverpool and Arsenal.

It will also take more than the highly regarded 24-year-old defender to convince Villa supporters that the Carling Cup winner is the right man to replace Gerard Houllier in the dugout following his departure on health grounds.

Several hundred fans protested outside the ground on Wednesday night, yet owner Randy Lerner and his board don’t look likely to listen, perhaps causing those that opposed Steve McClaren’s candidacy to wonder if they badly misjudged the situation.

The anti-McLeish stance appears to have been prompted not by his spell across the city but by doubts over his credentials, which aren’t helped by the fact that he suffered two relegations in four years at Birmingham. Villa are 16/1 to go down.

Chris Hughton meanwhile is the 6/4 favourite to succeed McLeish at St Andrew’s, and is 8/1 to replicate his Newcastle success by topping the Championship.

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