Axe falls on McLeish at Villa
Alex McLeish has been sacked as manager of Aston Villa following showdown talks with club owner Randy Lerner.
Villa are looking for a fourth manager in less than two years after Martin O'Neill's resignation and then Gerard Houllier having to quit on health grounds before McLeish was appointed last summer.
It was always a calculated gamble to appoint McLeish given his frosty relationship with Villa fans after his spell in charge of local rivals Birmingham - and one that patently failed and ended with his sacking today.
Villa only avoided relegation from the Premier League during the penultimate weekend of the season and the brand of football on show has been uninspiring.
Lerner, in a media statement, said: "We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years; Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent.
"The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations."
Villa axed McLeish less than 24 hours after a performance the Scot described as "woeful" in a 2-0 defeat at Norwich, whose manager Paul Lambert is expected to be amongst the leading candidates.
Chief executive Paul Faulkner said: "We'd like to thank Alex for his hard work and efforts throughout this tough season.
"We are mindful of the club's need to prepare thoroughly for the new campaign, and for the new manager to be able to begin working with the board so that he is quickly immersed in these preparations and also in the long-term objectives of the club.
"Our focus now will be driven by these imperatives."
Villa confirmed McLeish's departure in a statement.
It read: "Aston Villa can confirm that Alex McLeish's contract has been terminated with immediate effect.
"The club has been disappointed with this season's results, performances and the general message these have sent to our fans.
"The board wishes to assure supporters that we are conscious in every sense that Villa expects and deserves more and we will strive to deliver this."
Villa finished only two points above the Premier League relegation zone and their tally of 38 points was one less than when McLeish went down with Birmingham last season.
McLeish has faced a losing battle to win over the Villa fans but it is Villa's season of under-achievement which has cost him his job.
He had always insisted the season would be one of transition after being ordered by Lerner to drastically reduce the wage bill.
He also lost the services of key players Ashley Young and Stewart Downing last summer to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
In addition the likes of record signing Darren Bent, defender Richard Dunne and skipper Stiliyan Petrov have spent lengthy spells on the sidelines through injury or illness.
But Lerner still did not expect Villa to be too close to comfort to the drop which in financial terms would have been calamitous after a loss of more than £50million for the last financial year.
Villa have encountered their worst season in their history in terms of their home record in registering just four wins.
McLeish insisted after the defeat at Carrow Road that he was still the right man for the job and was aiming to rebuild the side, but Lerner clearly had other thoughts.