The Daily Mirror is a tabloid, a rag, if you will. Let's face it. It's shite by NYTimes standards. But this report caught our eye. If you haven't yet heard, the Scottish PL had some serious football related violence go on over the last season--including the threat of bombings and the actual realization of pitch invasions, including the on-pitch, during-the-game assault of Celtic manager Neil Lennon. So let's be clear: our view is that such violence, stemming as it does from sectarianism, alcoholism, economic stagnation, and a host of other factors, is perhaps explainable by historians--but utterly unacceptable.
So to see the reemergence of attitudes in the EPL reminiscent of the dark, dark days of the Hillsborough disaster and the latest season of idiocy in Scotland has forced us to weigh in.
By every measure, from news reports, to the podcasts we follow, to our own gaze along the sidelines week in and week out, Alex McLeish is a stand-up man, a mensch--the kind of guy you hope marries your sister. He's had success on the pitch in the SPL and the EPL. Yeah, his teams have twice been relegated, but no one can deny that he has a proven record (two SPL Championships, promotion to the EPL, FA Cup) of doing well with the clubs he's been handed. Most importantly, he's a decent, upstanding, successful, professional, human being.
Last season (2011-2012), unfortunately, his team went down again. And in spite of that failure, he's been hired by the American owner of Birmingham City's cross-town rivals Aston Villa to get the Villains back to the top third of English football and back into the Europa Cup (could Villa possibly get to the Champions League?) And now he's getting death threats from both Villa fans and Blues fans.
Really? Freaking death threats? Bullshit.
And here's where this post comes from: we root for Villa. We have Cleveland ties that run deep; we love football; and although we have our preferences among the bigger clubs, we reserve a special place for Villa in our soccer sancta sanctorum. We understand the passion Birmingham and Villa fans must be feeling, but the vilification of McCleish is utterly dispicable.
No team scored fewer goals per game in the EPl in 2010-2011 than did the Blues. And we are disappointed in Lerner's decision--we think Villa could have done better. But the current reaction by "fans" of both clubs is disgusting. You know what? As US supporters of Villa we welcome Mr. McCleish and wish him our best. Those "supporters" who've lost perspective on a game and a MAN need to step back and reevaluate their priorities.
Sir Alex, we salute you: