McAllister: Team has improved
Gary McAllister has revealed a no-holds barred meeting between Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier and the players provided the catalyst for the revival which has ensured Barclays Premier League safety.
Houllier spelt out what was needed after the home reversal by Wolves left Villa too near to the relegation zone for comfort. The players responded in the right way with seven points from three games before Houllier had to enter hospital with heart problems and then drew with Stoke last weekend when McAllister was in charge.
McAllister, who will again be at the helm for Saturday's clash at West Brom, said: "I think the players here have got to take a lot of credit for our improvements."
He added: "We had a meeting here (at Bodymoor Heath) three or four weeks ago. We sat down before we went to Goodison Park. Gerard spoke. It was made pretty clear then that we were in trouble and the players have responded under a lot of pressure with four positive results.
"I think everyone assumed the responsibility required and it was just to spell it out. The players have shown a lot of character to produce the performances and results under the pressure they were under. It is greater pressure for a team like Villa when they are at the bottom of the table.
"Everyone as a group got together and said 'listen in this little group of games we need to set some targets' - and players produced. It is as simple as that. You have to give them credit as a group because they produced the results."
McAllister admits the task of filling the shoes of Houllier, who was discharged from hospital on Friday night, has been made easier by the recent positive results.
He said: "While Gerard is not here it's business as usual. We have to keep the players busy and buzzing. They're on a decent run, we'll crack on, and the good thing is when you're not losing, the team picks itself.
"It's been very rare for us as a group to pick the same team. There's been signs of positives, then a little dip, but we're looking nice and solid at the moment. The starting eleven have the jersey and it's up to others to change it. It's good to keep it competitive."