McLeish is in town at the urging of Randy Lerner, who owns both the Browns and Aston Villa of the English Premier League.
With a two-week break because of the FA Cup before Aston Villa’s next game, McLeish came to town to share ideas and talk with Shurmur about player evaluation, scouting, rehab and training.
“Alex is always looking for any advantage he can get and he felt this was an ideal opportunity to exchange ideas with his American counterparts at the Browns,” said Paul Faulkner, Aston Villa’s chief executive.
In addition to trading coaching stories and training tips, Shurmur and McLeish hung out, maybe had some Lancashire hotpot or some spotted dick, probably even caught some of the Champions League game between Arsenal and AC Milan.
All kidding aside, what’s the harm? Neither team has any games right now so why not share some coach talk and see if there is some way to help each other? Seems pretty cool to us.
Like the Browns, Aston Villa can use all the help it can get right now. Villa has won just once in its last six Premier League games, a run that leaves them seven points (and three places) above the relegation zone.
McLeish has been under fire for the team’s poor play, with some fans going as far as trying to organize a boycott of last Sunday’s game against Manchester City (sound familiar, Browns fans?) But a Facebook fan page, Proud to be a Villan, rose up in protest of the protesters.
“At this time we need to be uniting as fans, not further dividing. Get behind the club,” was posted on the site according to The Birmingham Mail. “We need to take that into the ground at Villa Park. Stop booing the players. Stop crying about what we have not got and what has been! Look at what we have got and push the team forward!!
“Some games we will lose, some we will win! But we need to do it together!”
(Shades of “you’re either with us, or you’re not.”)
Plus, from the Browns’ perspective, it’s not like things can get much worse, right?
Wait, don’t answer that last question.