McLeish: I'll get the best out of Ireland
McLeish also feels Stephen Ireland can have a big part to play this term as the club look to better their ninth-place finish last season. Highly rated while at Manchester City, Ireland's career has faltered following his move to Villa Park as part of the deal that took James Milner the other way and McLeish is eager to help the 24-year-old recapture his old form.
"Stephen Ireland, a couple of years ago he looked an amazing player, making these forging runs from midfield, getting in the box, scoring goals, picking out the right passes," he said. "Every ball he touched it turned to goal, it seemed. Then, all of a sudden, his game hasn't gone the way you would expect.
"The player has excelled in training, making those piercing runs and I'm looking forward to getting Stephen Ireland fit and competing for the whole season. As a manager, your job is to get the best out of every individual and that's what I'll do with Stephen Ireland."
The Scot was also quick to temper expectations for a side that endured a tumultuous time last term. "I have a team that finished ninth in the league last season. I know it was a difficult first half of the season and the aim of every team is to get off to a flyer," added McLeish. "We've added a couple of players that will enhance the quality of the squad and hopefully get us off to a good start.
"I wouldn't like to shout from the rooftops and say we're going to challenge for the top four. I'd be a fool to do that. We finished ninth. Can we better that? It'll be extremely difficult given that a lot of other teams have been 'tooling up', if you like. Sunderland I think signed ten players, Stoke City are also linked with many players with quite extortionate transfer fees so we're under no illusions the Premier League will be more competitive than ever."
However, midfielder Stiliyan Petrov is optimistic better times are ahead for Villa. "I'm very excited. We didn't have the season we wanted last season but now we have a very ambitious manager, a manager who wants to look forward and wants us to be somebody," he said. "He doesn't want us to have a comfortable season. He wants to achieve things and it's great to see a manager like that come to the club and all the players are ready to go."