Alex McLeish maintains he is the right man to turn things around at Aston Villa - despite the club’s own fans chanting for him to be sacked and replaced by rival boss Paul Lambert in the season-ending 2-0 defeat at Norwich.
First-half goals from Norwich’s leading scorer Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson allowed the hosts, who were already safe from a last-day relegation scrap, to enjoy a party atmosphere in the Norfolk sunshine.
However, the several thousand travelling support sent a loud and clear message they expected much better next season, with Villa ending in 16th place in the Barclays Premier League, just two points clear of the drop zone.
Even though there were calls for his head from the club’s own fans, who even chanted Lambert’s name during the match, McLeish – set for a meeting with owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner this week – insists he can get the Midlands club back on track.
“I am not a quitter,” McLeish said.
“I can totally understand the fans’ frustrations and I am the man who carries the can for the performances, but it is also frustrating for me to watch that kind of stuff.
“It is up to me to turn the opinion around and will do my best.
“I have to get a team in that Villa jersey with a winning mentality and I can change the fans’ opinion.”
Like for much of their disappointing campaign, Villa offered little in the way of attacking threat against the hard-working Canaries.
“That was an unacceptable performance in Aston Villa colours and I have to change that, and there will be change,” said McLeish, a somewhat controversial appointment to replace Gerard Houllier after leaving bitter rivals Birmingham following their relegation.
“I might not have had the riches to spend of other managers, but believe I can turn Aston Villa around by adding quality and players who are going to work their socks off.”
McLeish remains relaxed ahead of his showdown with the Villa Park hierarchy.
“You can start fearing for your job at any time. That would be really negative,” he said.
“I will go into the meeting as positive as possible.”
Lambert, meanwhile, has seen his stock rise after masterminding Norwich’s survival with a series of industrious displays by a squad full of relative unheralded players which secured 12th spot.
The former Celtic midfielder has become a potential target for other clubs, but refused to be drawn on the chants of the Villa supporters – who goaded McLeish he was set to be “sacked in the morning” before declaring their allegiance to Lambert.
“Aston Villa is not my team. Norwich is and the Norwich fans singing it is greatly appreciated,” said Lambert, who took the club up through successive promotions from npower League One.
“I understand what is happening at Aston Villa and I can see what is happening with the crowd and the manager which is never nice.
“But that is out of my control – my control is Norwich and the Norwich fans have been brilliant for me.”
However, asked if he would still be with the Canaries at the start of next season, the Scot said: “It is a hard one to answer because I have a contract here and everyone is doing great in their respective jobs.
“I will get this season out of the road and then I will see what happens and think about what is going on and the achievements we have done, and then we will see.”