• Premier League

McLeish blames 'weak' squad for Villa exit

ESPN staff
May 29, 2012 « Released Bairstow free to play for Yorkshire | Chartbeat test »
Alex McLeish pointed to Aston Villa's record of registering as many league defeats as Liverpool in his defence © Getty Images
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Former Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has delivered a frank assessment of the 'weak, inexperienced' squad that avoided relegation by just two points before his close-season sacking.

McLeish was axed within 24 hours of the end of the Premier League season after just 11 months in charge. The club finished 16th with 38 points, just two above relegated Bolton, after a wretched run of form at the end of a season in which they won seven matches and drew 17.

"I knew what I was taking on and at the end of the day it was quite a tough one, but staying in the Premiership was absolutely vital to Villa," McLeish said.

"We lost the same number of games as Liverpool, but the statistic that went against us was too many draws, in terms of climbing up the table."

Villa were affected by injuries and the loss of key personnel throughout the season, not least striker Darren Bent to an ankle injury and captain Stilyan Petrov, who was diagnosed with leukaemia at the end of March, as well as lengthy spells on the sidelines for Gabriel Agbonlahor and Richard Dunne.

In their absence, Villa were forced to stretch a threadbare squad to its limit, a factor McLeish says dragged them into the relegation dogfight.

"At the end of the day, I felt that the squad was quite weak, quite thin experience-wise, and that could always be a problem," McLeish added.

"In the end, looking at other squads round about us, they were a wee bit stronger. Credit to the guys coming in, Dunney coming in to the West Brom game ahead of schedule, throwing his hat in the ring - we needed these type of moments to get over the line."

Despite his second sacking in as many seasons, the former Birmingham City and Rangers boss is keen to get back into management as soon as possible.

"Right now I need to take a break, so I'm going to get a holiday, get some vitamin D through my body and regenerate, and come back hopefully stronger and look to take up the reins somewhere else at a future date."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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