14/06/2011 19:55 +0100 – Villa are pushing ahead with their plans to talk to McLeish as they believe he is a "free agent" following his decision to resign as Birmingham boss. They also insist the "high emotions" surrounding the possible appointment of McLeish because of his spell at City will not deter them if they feel he is the right candidate. Villa said in a statement: "The club has been reluctant to elaborate publicly on our search for a new manager and, in particular, to confirm or deny our interest in specific candidates. "This is not a new policy, indeed it is the approach that we have taken both in regard to managerial prospects, and potential player signings. "The club understands that Alex McLeish is a free agent. We therefore intend to interview him imminently in order to make a decision regarding his candidacy to become Villa manager. "From the beginning of our search, we have set out criteria based on proven Premier League experience, compelling leadership, an ethic for hard work and, most importantly, sharing our vision for Aston Villa. "We know that without a shared vision any appointment, however attractive, will ultimately fail." The statement added: "Since 2006 we have approached our custodianship of Villa based on a broad-based strategy of significant investment to improve the squad, the training ground and Villa Park. "We feel it is essential to select a manager who understands and supports our strategy for the club to grow and to be sustainable. "Otherwise, the natural tensions and competitive pressures that are involved with every season will ultimately cause instability and make continuity impossible. "We would, however, like to emphasise that in deciding to interview Alex McLeish, the board has taken his tenure at our local rivals and the strong emotions associated with this very seriously. "We are determined, still, not to allow that three and a half year post to disqualify him should he be the best candidate for the role of Aston Villa manager."