1. ITV Report

McLeish return to Birmingham City?

Could McLeish return to Birmingham City? Photo: PA

Just over 12 months ago Birmingham City fans had a lot of love for their manager Alex McLeish and that was despite having just seen their club relegated from the Premier League.

To be fair, their points tally would have kept them up in previous seasons, and just a couple of months earlier they'd won the League Cup at Wembley.

That victory also meant the Blues had an adventure in Europe to look forward to. But McLeish did the one thing that made sure he would severe ties with Birmingham fans for a very long time. He swapped St Andrews for Villa Park.

Forget the logic of trading a Championship side with uncertain finances for a former European Cup winning, Premier League giant... Well sleeping giant. Because football isn't about logic, and McLeish soon found himself unpopular with both the Birmingham fans for leaving, and the Villa fans for having come from Birmingham.

12 months on and McLeish is out of work and Birmingham are on the look out for a manager, after Chris Hughton went to Norwich, ironically to replace the next Villa bound manager, Paul Lambert.

Birmingham City search for the next manager after Hughton joined Norwich City Credit: PA

So could McLeish return to St Andrews? Well, bookies are offering odds on that scenario of 25 to 1. I'm no betting man but I'd think 250 to 1 was more realistic.

McLeish was respected by the board at Birmingham, he was always careful not to play a blame game when things weren't going well.

But the board will have witnessed the scenes at neighbours Aston Villa, when the fans were overlooked by the powers that be.

McLeish was unwanted from day one and when results didn't go well he was quickly met with a barrage of boos and perhaps worst of all, attendances began to fall.

And of course there are plenty of other talented managers available without the aggro, Lee Clark, Gianfranco Zola and another of Birmingham's former bosses, Steve Bruce among the early favourites.

I remember when I first bumped into Alex McLeish at Aston Villa's training ground, a short time before he was unveiled to the waiting press. 'What on Earth are you doing here?" I (half) jokingly said, with a smile he replied "who knows".

For his own sake I hope I don't find myself asking him that very same question at St Andrews in the coming days.

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