Aston Villa mutiny 'blown out of proportion' says Stuart Downing

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The Independent Online

Stewart Downing insists the Aston Villa players have a good relationship with manager Gerard Houllier and talk of a mutiny has "been blown out of proportion".

The England winger believes it is easy to blame Houllier and blame him for Villa's slump when the squad have to take responsibility.

Villa are only one point above the bottom three ahead of tomorrow's Barclays Premier League clash with Everton at Goodison Park.

Downing is also adamant Houllier has not made any wholesale changes in terms of bringing in new rules and, in any case, players have to adapt to his demands.

The former Middlesbrough player said: "The manager is fine. We all get on with him. It is easy to point at him and say 'it's his fault' because he changed a few things.

"I had it at Middlesbrough before. 'It was the manager's fault, it was the players' fault etc, it was his fault because he wanted to leave etc'.

"You've just got to stick together and blank it out because when it is going well, everyone will take the praise.

"It happens at every football club and we've got no problem with the manager.

"No matter who the manager is, it's down to the players at the end of the day to get results and not him."

When asked about a mutiny in the squad, Downing said: "It has been blown out of proportion. Little things go on at football clubs.

"It is easy to point and blame and make a big thing out of things when they are not going well.

"We all want to win, the players are all behind the manager and I don't see any problem."

It has been reported that players were unhappy with new rules apparently laid down by Houllier, but Downing added: "I don't think there has been a lot of change.

"Every manager I have played under has different ways of going about it and arrangements, in training and in games.

"But I think you just adapt. You get used to it after two or three weeks here. There haven't been too many changes.

"I have enjoyed it, I am sure the other players have enjoyed it."

Downing suffered the agony of being relegated with Middlesbrough two years ago before making the move to Villa.

But he is confident the Villa squad has more quality and should pull clear of the bottom three.

He said: "Being relegated is a horrible feeling. This squad is a lot more talented than the one we had there at Boro.

"We had a lot of young kids then, and they had a right good go at staying up, and we are going to do the same here.

"I'm fairly confident we can get out of it. We know what we have to do.

"Relegation has not been spoken about amongst us.

"Yes, we are in a bit of a sticky situation and I'm confident we can get out of it.

"But it's no good talking about it, we have to produce it on the field."

Villa's defensive duo of Richard Dunne and James Collins are in contention for a recall at Goodison Park.

Dunne and Collins proved their fitness after shoulder and calf problems by playing for the Republic of Ireland and Wales respectively during the international break.

Right-back Kyle Walker is Villa's only injury concern with the slight hip problem which forced his withdrawal from the England squad.

Midfielder Ciaran Clark will complete a two-game ban for incurring 10 bookings this season.

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