Benteke, Sigurdsson - The Wall Room & Aston Villa's transfer policy under Alex McLeish
Aston Villa, Claret & Blue podcast - The controversial Scottish manager details what he had to work with at Aston Villa during the 2011-12 season, including identifying a certain Christian Bentekeby Mat Kendrick, Ashley Preece, https://www.facebook.com/matkendrickjournalist/, https://www.facebook.com/PreeceBirminghamLive/
Alex McLeish was allowed to spend around £18million in his only year at Aston Villa - despite the club banking more than double that amount in player sales.
The Scot's remit was clear from the get-go after controversially crossing the Second City divide. The ex-Blues boss was tasked with finishing as high as possible in the league but, at the same time, had to significantly drop expenditure in wages and transfers.
An agreement was already in place to sell Ashley Young to Manchester United but, after that, McLeish failed to persuade Stewart Downing to shelve a move to Liverpool.
That transfer went through with then-owner Randy Lerner banking a handsome £36million from two player sales. In the end, McLeish replaced Downing with his long-term St Andrew's target Charles N'Zogbia for £9million-plus.
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McLeish also replaced Luke Young with Alan Hutton, Brad Friedel with Shay Given and Jean Makoun with Jermaine Jenas, the latter playing just three times before a season-ending injury.
Former boss McLeish, though, knew he was up against it in terms of buying players - but that didn't stop him establishing a player database in a room at Bodymoor Heath that was aptly-named The Wall Room.
The Wall Room, did you know, had targets pinned up on a board that'd come from McLeish, his right-hand man Peter Grant and top scout Paul Montgomery.
On that famous wall were two names that stood out, target Gylfi Sigurdsson and a certain Christian Benteke - 12 months before McLeish's replacement Paul Lambert snapped him up for just £7million.
Opening up on transfers, McLeish told our Claret & Blue podcast : "We had a room. We called it The Wall Room and Paul (Montgomery), Peter Grant and myself, we constantly put players' names on the wall of this little room.
"When I arrived at Villa there wasn't a database of players and that was one of the things we strove to do, to get as many names on laptops into the computer system that we could.
"At the end of the day guys like Benteke were in there. Arthur Numan had gone to see Benteke and he liked him and liked what he saw. He said he thought he could get into the box a bit more. He watched him in games and said he'd come for the ball too much.
"Zigic was like that at Birmingham. He'd say I like to come to the ball but I'd say just get in the box, big man!
"We said that about Benteke and, when he came in, he scored about 15-16 goals. Imagine if one of my players had done that at my year at Villa? We'd probably have been four or five places higher up.
"My remit was to get up in league positions but down the table in terms of reducing wages. We had a lot of things against us. This podcast we've had will testify to that."
McLeish had Villa in 13th in the Premier League (W5 D8 L7) by the time the January window came around. He wanted a couple of additions but managed to get Robbie Keane on a six-game loan agreement instead.
"I asked for two to three players in the January," McLeish added, "and (chief executive) Paul (Faulkner) politely declined because, again, we tried to get the wages down to a certain level by the end of the season.
"He said at this moment in time we can't get players like that, (Gylfi) Sigurdsson. I felt we needed that kind of craft in midfield and, again, it was players from The Wall Room. We had to soldier on with the current players while filtering in some youngsters."
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