From BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18070294
The ex-Scotland, Rangers and Birmingham boss was sacked on Monday after Villa finished 16th in the Premier League with just four home wins all season.
“It's the most bereft Villa team I've seen since the start of the Premier League”
"From day one, he's been swimming upstream," Atkinson told BBC Radio 5 live. "I think there's a big hangover from the fact he came from Birmingham.
"I don't think he's been given a fair crack of the whip."
He added: "If he'd come straight down from Rangers, everyone would have said he's a great signing for them."
And Atkinson, who managed the West Midlands club between 1991 and 1994, leading them to the runners-up spot in the Premier League's first season in 1992-93 and the League Cup in 1994, said McLeish had never had the players or investment to make a success of his time at Villa.
"They need some stars there, because the fans love that - they want to see players that add a bit of glitter to their weekend," he continued.
"All they've seen this year is a manager having to work with some very ordinary, mundane players. It's the most bereft Villa team I've seen since the start of the Premier League.
"The new England manager is likely to pick an England squad containing six or seven players who've all been Aston Villa players in the last few years. And they've gone."
But Atkinson insisted the job was still a prestigious one.
"A club of the magnitude of Aston Villa can't keep selling players and not replacing them with good quality."
Former Villa midfielder Ray Houghton echoed the views of the man who brought him to the club, arguing that Villa's American owner Randy Lerner "knew it was going to be contentious" when he recruited McLeish from city neighbours Birmingham.
"I think Alex was unlucky," he told BBC Sport. "I don't think the fans ever took to him coming from Birmingham. I felt he was hampered. The squad isn't strong enough."
Houghton, who played more than 100 times for Villa from 1992-1995, also said the vacant Villa post was a good but "extremely tough" one, and warned that fan expectations needed to be more modest.
"Whoever takes over will have an extremely tough job as I don't think any money is going to be made available in the summer. The next manager is going to have to know what he's working with and what the expectations are," he said.
"It is a very good job for someone. But you have to bring in the right manager who's used to working at a lower level or knows the lower league. I think the expectations from the fans have to be tempered and they have to look at the situation more realistically."
Sunderland's former Villa boss Martin O'Neill also expressed his sympathy for his successor.
"It was a difficult season," he said. "I know he went into it with eyes wide open, and it was always going to be a hard job, but nevertheless it's disappointing.
"I will give him a call when times smooth over a little bit."
Meanwhile, one of the men tipped to succeed McLeish, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, described talk of his leaving the DW Stadium as "speculation".
"All that counts is the good of Wigan Athletic," said the Spaniard, who turned down an offer to move to Villa Park last summer.
Atkinson's been churning out rubbish for a long time. Pat Murphy on Radio 5 got it right; the statistics for the season said it all; they were awful.
"very ordinary mundane players"? Come on, the older players, many of whom underperformed this season, largely shone under MON. Players who looked good or promising last year went backwards this year. Bent isn't mundane; getting 9 goals was pretty good as usually the ball was nowhere near him. Those goals and Given's saves saved us from relegation. The squad overall isn't wonderful, but it's not that bad either; it was dragged down by an awful manager.
Take Gabby. He's played well for England where he's been under a manager who knows his strengths and weaknesses and can instruct him accordingly. Albrighton has talent; he needs to work on it, and improve his allround game at the same time, good coaching in other words. N'zogbia looked lost until the final few games; this was the player who saved Wigan last year. Ireland was the one player who actually improved. And at least players like Clark, Herd, Lichaj and Weimann showed the Kevin Mac effect hadn't been destroyed.
The new manager has a big job to do. But there's still a lot of good material there to work with. Atkinson!
The same Pat Murphy you just mentioned blamed it on the players in his article and called AM a "good football man." lol
AM "took the rap" for AV players:
I think the BBC really are clueless. Even more so than I had realised. I'd stop listening to the crap they come up with on MOTD a long time ago and just fast forward to the highlights but do they honestly believe the stuff they write or do they just do it for controversy and reaction.
To me there is more than a passing element of truth in some parts of that interview we as a Club have been as guilty as sin for selling on our better players and failing to replace them with players of anywhere close to the same skills .
This had a knock on effect of reducing the overall squad skill set this is not a complaint on my part from this season alone but it seems to have been in place for a great many seasons at Villa hence our label as a FEEDER CLUB for the SKY FOUR if as we fans all crave wish to start to play a better brand of Football with more skills on show from our players and a game which is pleasing to watch then the better players from our squad who leave have to be replaced by adequate replacements .
The issue regarding whether McLeish had a fair crack of the whip to me is a no brainer he was to so many fans like a dead man walking from the first day of his appointment here combine that with the lack of adequate replacements for the players that left last close season and you have if you are honest with yourself as a VILLA FAN a disaster waing to happen .
The only positive to come out of last season for this Club is we have had chance to blood plenty of the academy players in first ream premier league games and some how we avoided relegation .
We lost two players from the team that came 9th last year.
One of whom (Downing) had had his first decent season for Villa and had been peripheral (ie. pretty useless) beforehand. The other (Young) was technically by far our best attacking midfielder but had been nullified by teams (except the top four) putting two men on him and effectively snuffing him out.
At the same time we had a few promising youngsters with first team experience, eg. Bannan, Clark, Albrighton and Herd who had shone in the near victory against Manu. And we bought the club record signing- a proven goal scorer in Bent. Oh, and a top class keeper in Given.
With the likes of Carruthers, Lihaij, Baker, Gardner and Wiemann coming through, there was no way that we should consider this year's squad inferior to last year's.
What has Downing done at Liverpool? What has Young really done at Manu (now he's not double marked)? I'd say he's been not as effective for them than he was in his first two seasons at Villa.
Sorry, Big Ron's a fully paid up member of the manager's union. And why not, no-one else will stick up for 'em. But in this case he's wrong. We had a very good squad, with some senior players who needed booting out because their attitude was wrong (eg. Collins), but some seniors who would sweat blood for the club- eg. Carlos, Petrov (please get well soon) and Gabby.
We have a good (top half of the table) squad, and if half of the kids live up to their promise we will be top six again very soon. All we need is a good manager.