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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Villain: McLeish 'understands' reaction from angry fans

‘Every game’s a cup final’. Yes, Alex McLeish is a desperate man.

Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

ASTON VILLA MANAGER, Alex McLeish, says he will not walk away from the club despite the widespread abuse he has received.

McLeish was the target of large-scale criticism after Villa slumped to a 2-1 home defeat to Bolton in the English Premier League on Tuesday.

They took the lead on 61 minutes thanks to defender Stephen Warnock but just moments later were behind as Martin Petrov and David N’Gog responded for the Wanderers.

The result meant 15th-placed Villa – who are just three points clear of the relegation zone – have won just one of their last 14 matches in all competitions.

McLeish, who was in charge of Villa’s bitter rivals Birmingham when they were relegated last season, is not a popular man at the moment but says he understands the response.

“I can understand the fans’ reaction,” McLeish said.

“They are frustrated, just as I was. To see the gameturn around like that after we took a deserved lead was horrible.

“It was incredible the way the game turned but I do understand the fans’ reaction. They know the team is in a bit of trouble in a position Aston Villa fans don’t expect the team to be in.

“I’m not somebody who shirks a challenge (though). I will keep going and keep fighting to get the points that will make us safe.”

McLeish met with owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner after the match and revealed that discussions were positive.

“They were supportive,” he said.

“They said we have got to keep our heads up and that everybody has to stay together and battle together to see it through.”

Despite remaining in 18th, Bolton are just a point from safety and have a game in hand on their rivals in the relegation dogfight.

And Bolton boss Owen Coyle feels the club’s remaining four games will be crucial in their bid to stay in the top-flight.

Cup final

“We have been in good form, I think that’s 13 points from 21 now,” Coyle said.

“We have four games, everyone a huge game -a cup final – and we have to approach it in the manner we did tonight in the second half.

“We had to do it the hard way but again all credit to the lads – they stood up to be counted away from home, it was a hostile atmosphere when Villa scored (and) they had their tails up.

“That’s what we have got to do, give performances like this to make sure we remain in the Premier League.”

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TheScore Team

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