Belfast Telegraph

Villa boss calls for patience

Alex McLeish has called for patience from Aston Villa fans accustomed to demanding success as he sets his sights on a season of "steady progress."

In an ideal world, McLeish would like to surpass the 2010-11 achievement of finishing ninth in the Barclays Premier League and challenge for a European spot. But he is also realistic after losing several experienced players this summer, including Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, and having to reduce a sizeable wage bill.

McLeish is looking for some of the club's promising youngsters, such as Fabian Delph, to make their mark plus players out in the cold under Gerard Houllier in Stephen Warnock and Stephen Ireland. The Scot said: "We've lost some very experienced players, don't forget, and we are looking for young players to make the breakthrough."

He added: "That might not happen so people may have to be patient in terms of where we finish in the league. We finished very healthily in ninth position after the first half of last season was difficult.

"If we can maintain a steady progress throughout the season, that would be heading in the right direction.

"Would a top 10 finish would be okay? I think that would terrific. I think that would be an achievement for the players but we will try and aim higher than that."

McLeish added: "We lost Downing, Nigel Reo-Coker, Ashley Young and Charles (N'Zogbia) is the only newcomer in an outfield sense at the moment.

"We are relying on the old hands, some of the players who were dormant last year to come to the fore, and the youngsters to stand out. There will be opportunities for them."

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