Alex McLeish still picking up the pieces of Martin O'Neill departure

Alex McLeish
© PA Photos
Ahead of Martin O'Neill's return to Villa Park with Sunderland, Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish admits that he is still picking up the pieces following the Ulsterman's abrupt exit from the club.

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has admitted that he is still picking up the pieces following Martin O'Neill's abrupt exit from the club.

The Northern Irishman ended a four-year reign at Villa Park by resigning just four days prior to the start of the 2010-11 season.

The now-Sunderland manager achieved back-to-back sixth-placed finishes while at the Midlands club. He also spent heavily and amassed a squad wage bill of £80m.

Kevin MacDonald, Gerard Houllier and Gary McAllister have all occupied the Villa hot-seat since O'Neill's departure.

However, McLeish thinks that the 60-year-old's departure is still impacting the club nearly two years on.

When asked if he was still picking up the pieces following O'Neill's exit, McLeish replied: "Yes, definitely. There are a lot of quality players who have left the club since Martin left. He had a tremendous time at this club and did a great job getting them to heights it is difficult to follow.

"Especially given the loss of a lot of the players Martin signed and not replacing them. That makes it tough [first] for Gerard and for me. But I have got to believe I can get Villa back to the heights where fans expect them to be.

"I know where the club is at the moment and I took the job under those circumstances because I see better things in the future."

O'Neill will return to Villa Park this afternoon as his Black Cats side face Villa in the Premier League.

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Mark Albrighton
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