Alex McLeish is eager to throw himself back into football after his controversial appointment as Aston Villa manager was finally confirmed.

The Scot has spent the week at the centre of a storm after quitting Villa's arch-rivals Birmingham just five days ago. Villa fans reacted with fury when it became apparent the 52-year-old was a leading contender for the managerial vacancy at their club, while Birmingham accused their neighbours of tapping up and made legal threats.

McLeish accepts he must win over the doubters but, after signing a three-year contract at Villa Park, he is relishing the challenge. The former Rangers and Scotland boss said: "I'm looking forward to working with the group of talented and motivated players that we have at Villa."

He added: "My first afternoon in the job I was able to spend at the training ground at Bodymoor and the facilities here are really outstanding, first class.

"I'm eager to throw myself into this and I'm looking forward to pre-season already. It's all about the football really. When the players walk back through the door on the first day of pre-season training that's what it's all about and I can't wait for that."

Birmingham are convinced Villa induced McLeish into breaking a contract which had two years left to run and have demanded £5.4million in compensation.

Villa, who began talks with McLeish after he quit St Andrew's, insist their new boss was a free agent when their officials met him. Blues did not carry out threats to report Villa to the Premier League or take out an injunction to block McLeish's move, but they say the matter is not closed.

A statement read: "The fact that Alex McLeish has been appointed as manager of Aston Villa does not, in any way, mean that the legal dispute is over and Birmingham City Football Club maintains its stance and shall vigorously pursue the matter.

"We are very disappointed with how the club and its fans have been treated by Mr McLeish, given the way we have supported him over the years and we are still looking into whether Aston Villa's conduct has been in line with Premier League rules.

"As the club is currently enforcing its legal right with Mr McLeish the matter is in the hands of our lawyers and it is therefore not appropriate for the club to make any further comment at this stage."

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