The last time Alex McLeish was in the Champions League, he was in his playing pomp. This time the Birmingham City manager will be in charge of Leeds United.
This week McLeish was speaking at a football fan forum at Leeds University, where, as a Leeds supporter, he readily admitted his love for the club.
The Scottish manager joined Leeds for a year in 2004 and an injury-ravaged campaign was ended by a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the 2007 FA Cup semi-final. McLeish then moved to Scotland and in England he worked in two successful spells at Villa, before being lured back to England.
As a manager he led Birmingham City into the Championship play-offs last season, only to be knocked out by his former club Rangers.
“The benchmark for those who have climbed down this ladder, and on to the Premier League, is the achievement you can make, the challenge and the pride you can feel about the occasion, the club and the club’s supporters,” McLeish said.
“Success is not always defined by the fact that you get into the Champions League. For those who have got there, you want to make a real statement and leave a mark on this league.
“For people to look back and say, ‘That was one of the teams that were the biggest threat to the top of this league’, then that would mean something. It is all about ambition.”
Although McLeish has described the Premier League as the toughest league in the world, he sees progress on the agenda and anticipates a calmer atmosphere.
“I’m not saying there will be no problems,” McLeish added. “But it is all about progress, long term, for the future. Even if we might be working under the threat of transfer fees, people keeping an eye on what you do, it is about long-term investment and efficiency in the way you manage.”
Meanwhile, Leeds goalkeeper Carl Ikeme is taking part in a “psychic football camp” to help him cope with a condition which keeps him in bed all week.
The 32-year-old is receiving a one-week break from the “leukodystrophy” condition for an unusual treatment. Neurofeedback will help Ikeme know when he is working and when he needs to rest.
“During those three-day spells I have been taking part in this hypnotherapy,” Ikeme said. “I have been doing a lot of meditation to try and deal with it.”
Ikeme, who has played 46 times for his country, is hopeful his is the first of many camps aimed at giving him “a bit of holiday” and creating better balance in his life.
“It’s brilliant. I’m getting some really good results,” he said. “I’m hoping I get a few more.”
RESULTS: Chelsea 1 Tottenham 0 (Chelsea top, Tottenham fourth), Swansea 2 Burnley 1 (Burnley, third), Manchester City 2 Stoke 0 (Man City, first), Liverpool 2 Watford 2 (Liverpool, second), Bournemouth 1 West Ham 2 (West Ham, first), Brighton 1 West Brom 1 (West Brom, second), Sunderland 1 Newcastle 0 (Newcastle, third).