Belfast Telegraph

Owner Lerner backs McLeish

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner have given their backing to manager Alex McLeish and his players as the club strive to win their Barclays Premier League relegation battle.

Lerner and Faulkner have issued their rallying call after Villa were left only three points above the bottom three following Tuesday night's home defeat by Bolton. Fans called for McLeish to be sacked and Lerner and Faulkner understand the frustrations of the supporters and are calling for their backing for the final three games of the season.

Lerner and Faulkner, in a joint statement, said: "Right now everyone connected with Villa is hurting badly. A win was in sight last night against Bolton after a strong start and the tenacity the team displayed, although ultimately we weren't able to hold on for the points. We very openly acknowledge the frustrations of Villa fans and share in them completely."

The statement continued: "What matters to us and the board at this moment is how we, as a club, handle adversity and the pressure it brings. Our horizon is the next three games and we continue to be in control of our own destiny.

"Young players side by side with more senior players are fighting hard for the club. They are now preparing for the West Brom game on Saturday, followed by Spurs and Norwich.

"We will continue to support and rely on our manager and the squad and therefore give them our full support.

"We are totally conscious, as is everyone at the club, that this is a very trying time for those who love Aston Villa. We know that the team will continue to fight through every minute of the remaining games and we hope Villa fans will continue to show their great support."

Stephen Warnock, who scored Villa's goal in the 2-1 defeat, accepts players must stand up and be counted during the final three games of the season. The midfielder acknowledges Villa lack players who are used to being involved in scraps to survive at the foot of the table.

He said: "There's only myself at Blackburn, James Collins at West Ham and Emile Heskey at Wigan who have been in this situation. It's not a nice situation to be in. We need fighters now.

"The youngsters are learning the hard way but it's not easy for the senior lads as well. With Blackburn a couple of years ago, we had to really fight for it. It's a real test of character and we have to stand up and be counted now."

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