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Premier League

Aston Villa confirm support for Gerard Houllier

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier's job remains safe despite his side slipping into the Barclays Premier League relegation zone

Villa find themselves in the relegation zone for the first time since November 2003 after being beaten 1-0 at home by Sunderland last night.

Former Villa loan player Phil Bardsley scored his first top flight goal to leave the Holte End chanting towards Houllier 'you're getting sacked in the morning'.

The message was repeated at the end to leave Houllier feeling "hurt", although he understands the frustration of the Villa supporters.

But he is adamant Lerner - and chief executive Paul Faulkner - will continue to support him after just three and a half months in charge.

Houllier said: "I know about the chants. I heard that. It hurts but I understand their frustration.

"They were fantastic at the end and the players can't complain about the fans.

"Every time we were under the cosh, or every time we had to come back into the game, they were pushing and supporting the team.

"What is important is that you have the backing of the chairman and the chief executive."

Houllier added: "I spoke to Paul Faulkner and he was extremely supportive.

"I understand it is not easy for them.

"I don't doubt Randy Lerner's firm support and determination. We are in this together for better or worse.

"At the moment, we are going through the worse."

Houllier believes Emile Heskey's glaring first-half miss and his red card for violent conduct against Jordan Henderson were crucial factors.

He said: "It is a shame really because we had an opportunity to step up in the league and there were two moments which were extremely crucial.

"One is when Emile unfortunately missed the sitter and hit the bar.

"The second moment is when he was sent off. His dismissal is a key moment in the game."

The only positive note for Houllier is that he confirmed the loan signing of Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker is set to go through.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce's delight at his side's second away win of the season was tempered by midfielder David Meyler suffering another serious knee setback.

He will now be sidelined for "at least" six months with a damaged cruciate ligament - and Bruce blames himself.

He said: "Meyler looks as if he has ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments which is the same one as before. We are devastated.

"We are pleased with the result but devastated when you see a young kid like that who is such a great boy, all he wants to do is play football. All he wanted to do was get fit.

"He was magnificent on Saturday against Blackburn and I'm kicking myself now because I've played him. Whether it is because he was tired, I don't know.

"Basically we didn't have anyone else.

"Always in the back of your mind is that he played his first 90 minutes then and I asked him to play again two or three days later when he has been out for eight months.

"I'm kicking myself now but I had no-one else to choose who would have made the impact Meyler would have made, like he did on Saturday versus Blackburn."

On loan Manchester United striker Danny Wellbeck also sustained a hamstring injury.