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Full Time

Villa back McLeish in fight against drop

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner have backed manager Alex McLeish as he battles to avoid being relegated with different clubs two years running.

Supporters called for McLeish, who went down with Birmingham last season, to be sacked after Tuesday night's home defeat by Bolton and Lerner and Faulkner understand the frustration of supporters. But the duo have issued a rallying cry with Villa three points above the bottom three after registering only one win in their last 13 games.

Lerner and Faulkner, in a joint statement, said: "We will continue to support and rely on our manager and the squad and therefore give them our full support."

They added: "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."

Villa have away trips to West Brom and Norwich sandwiched either side of the home clash with Tottenham.

The statement adds: "Right now everyone connected with Villa is hurting badly. We very openly acknowledge the frustrations of Villa fans and share in them completely.

"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."

Former Villa chairman Doug Ellis believes it would be "foolish" for Lerner to sack McLeish.

Ellis, who sold his controlling stake to Lerner six years ago, told the Birmingham Mail: "It would be foolish for McLeish to go. Despite the fact most of the fans are upset he came from Birmingham, McLeish is a good manager.

"The game is not about management, it is about players. Villa have three, four, five established first team players who are injured and we have to bring in the kids. But they will not go down. Villa have three more matches, a three point gap above the bottom three, a better goal difference, and need three points to be certain."

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