Belfast Telegraph

Delph defends under-fire Houllier

Fabian Delph has defended Gerard Houllier's decision to field a much changed team in the FA Cup tie at Manchester City.

Villa boss Houllier made eight alterations from the side he started against Blackburn for the Eastlands clash which Villa lost 3-0 - including playing Delph at left-back. It has left fans angry and venting their frustrations on message boards and radio phone-ins, particularly as local rivals Birmingham have won the Carling Cup.

Delph, who signed a new four-year contract on Thursday, said: "We're a very good squad and we've got a good squad of players. The changes that got made, they needed to rest. They've been playing a lot of games this season."

He added: "The players that came in against Manchester City were more than capable of doing a job.

"I don't think it's a case of that we played a weakened team. We played a strong team, players that have been playing all season.

"The gaffer is confident in our ability and thinks we're strong as a squad. If he's bringing players in, which he's done all season, not just in the City game, I don't see why it should be looked upon as a bad thing.

"Let's face it, we came up against a very good team in City. All of their players are internationals. They were just the better team on the night."

Delph added: "I can understand the fans, because they got into the finals and semi-finals of the two cup competitions last year. They are bound to be a bit upset.

"They're looking at the Blues as well, thinking that they've just won the Carling Cup. We think we are a better team than them and we obviously haven't done what they've done this season, so I think that's what is getting to them the most.

"Hopefully next season we can push on and do a lot better. The last few games we have looked a lot sharper and we have started to play together as a team. If we can carry that on I think, hopefully with a few more players, it might spice it up a bit more."

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