Villa set to confirm McLeish as manager

ASTON VILLA are poised to confirm the controversial appointment of Alex McLeish as manager.

Villa have been in talks with the Scot after he quit as boss of arch-rivals Birmingham on Sunday.

The club have not been deterred from pursuing the 52-year-old by a war of words with City or fearsome opposition from their own fans.

An announcement is now expected to be made this morning.

Birmingham accused Villa of tapping up McLeish once it became apparent the former Rangers and Scotland boss was a strong contender to succeed Gerard Houllier at Villa Park.

But with all details of a contract thought to have been agreed with McLeish, it is understood legal issues concerning Birmingham are the only hindrance.

Meanwhile Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira, Manchester United’s Owen Hargreaves, West Ham defender Matthew Upson and Tottenham centre-back Jonathan Woodgate are some of the bigger names to be released by their clubs this summer.

The Premier League has published its lists of retained players and those available on a free transfer and it is no surprise to see the three relegated clubs — Birmingham, West Ham and Blackpool — offloading 32 players between them.

Age has finally caught up with former Arsenal star Vieira, who is 35 next week, and he is joined on the exit list at Eastlands by Javier Garrido and former academy graduate Shaleum Logan.

Hargreaves’ departure from United was expected as injury restricted him to just 11 minutes’ football in the last two seasons.

Woodgate, who scored the winning goal in the 2008 Carling Cup final, suffered similar problems, making just four appearances in the last two years for Spurs.

Birmingham have let a dozen players go, with the likes of Lee Bowyer, Sebastian Larsson, James McFadden, Kevin Phillips and Maik Taylor on their list of free transfers.

West Ham’s England international Upson, Wales centre-back Danny Gabbidon, defender Lars Jacobsen and Jonathan Spector have all been put on the open market, while Blackpool midfielder David Vaughan’s rejection of a new contract means he joins 11 others leaving Bloomfield Road.

Aston Villa have released John Carew, Robert Pires and Nigel Reo-Coker, while Blackburn have done similar with Jason Brown and Benjani Mwaruwari.

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