Belfast Telegraph

Owner supports McLeish despite loss

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish insisted he received positive support from club owner Randy Lerner after fans called for the Scot to be sacked following a 2-1 home defeat by Bolton.

McLeish admitted Villa are now in a relegation battle after the Trotters recovered from trailing to a Stephen Warnock goal through a Martin Petrov penalty and a David Ngog close range finish. Fans chanted 'f*** off McLeish, the Villa is ours' and 'sack McLeish my lord' but the Villa boss understands why they did it.

He said: "I can understand the fans' reaction. We went into a deserved lead and to see the game turn like it did was horrible. The reaction was a first for me. But it was understandable because we had the three points in our grasp. I spoke with Randy and Paul Faulkner (chief executive) after the game and they were supportive and said to keep your head up."

He added: "They said everyone has to stay together and battle through this fight."

McLeish admitted: "We are in a relegation fight but we have got to rally the troops for the next game. There are still nine points to play for, our destiny is still in our own hands.

"I believe in the players and believe we will still be in this division next season."

Bolton boss Owen Coyle hailed "a massive win" by his side as they climbed into 18th spot and are only one point adrift of Wigan.

Coyle said: "I was livid at half-time and let the players know that because we never got to the level we are capable of in the first half. But to be fair, in the second half, they were terrific even after going a goal behind.

"The character and the belief shown by the players after Villa's goal was there for all to see and when we passed and moved the ball around we looked a very good side.

"It was a wonderful second half by us and I can't remember Villa having a goalscoring opportunity during that period. It was a massive three points. There is no doubt about that."

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