Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has been asked by club owner Randy Lerner to spend time with the head coach for Cleveland Browns, another sporting team that Lerner owns, in order to receive some tips from a coach of a team from overseas which Lerner hopes will provide McLeish with some inspiration and new, fresh ideas.

McLeish’s tenure so far at Villa Park has been fairly unsuccessful, with the side sitting at the wrong end of the table and being far too close to the relegation zone for a team with Villa’s quality and history. McLeish’s decision to sign Irish striker Robbie Keane on loan proved to be a masterstroke, with the player hitting sensational form for a team that was relatively short on goals.

The only downside of the deal is that he returns to LA Galaxy for pre-season next week, which will mean one of McLeish’s most important players will leave for the rest of the season. With strikers of the quality of Darren Bent and Gabby Agbonlahor, Villa should be pushing for Europa League places, but sadly ever since Martin O’Neill resigned, the villains have been in a steady decline.

Lerner has come across as a fairly good owner, by allowing his manager’s time and space to settle into their role, but McLeish will know the side’s form will need to pick up towards the back end of the season if he wants to be in the Villa hot seat this time next year.

With Villa only having won one of their last 6, their game against Wigan after the break for the FA Cup is a game that will be seen by McLeish as a must win to provide a catalyst for his team’s poor season so far.