McLeish's First Real Hurdle

10 October 2011 01:47
This weekend's game against Manchester City is, in some ways, McLeish's first proper challenge to prove his managerial skills at the highest level.

Many would argue that Villa's start to the season has been a pleasant surprise. Still unbeaten and sitting in a respectable seventh place in the league. However, others would (and have) argued that Villa's fixture list so far has been plagued with too many single-pointers when a win was more than possible.

Contrary to certain opinions, there are no easy games in the Premier League anymore. Granted, there are games that teams should win on paper, but any team is capable of beating any other team if the game goes their way. All things considered, there are games that Villa should have won on paper, but the start to the season has been solid.

However, the fixture list so far, whilst not being easy, has been more favourable that others. That is why this weekend is McLeish's first challenge against one of the so-called 'bigger clubs', and many people will be paying attention to this one with particular interest as it is the first notable fixture.

I wouldn't even begin to start making predictions, because Villa have a habit of raising their game against the bigger clubs (Man Utd 2-2), and making it more difficult for themselves against the smaller clubs (Newcastle 6-1).

A lot will depend on the ambition and the formation. If McLeish goes looking for a draw, he probably won't get one. Even with Aguero and Tevez out of the picture, you do not invite a team like that to attack. However, if he is looking for a win then it will be an interesting game indeed. Man City are beatable, so it will be interesting to see if McLeish shares that belief.

Whatever the outcome, it is the first game against Champions League opposition and it will be interesting. Many Villa fans would be happy with yet another draw for this one, but if McLeish is of the right opinion I think the game can be won.