Captain urges Houllier and Carew to call truce

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The Independent Football

Gerard Houllier and John Carew have been urged to bury their differences and to start behaving like "grown men" if Aston Villa are to haul themselves out of relegation trouble.

Houllier, the Villa manager, has been given further backing from chief executive Paul Faulkner in the wake of the dismal 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland on Wednesday night, which plunged the club into the relegation zone for the first time in seven years.

The club's hierarchy insist they will stick by the 63-year-old Frenchman, despite calls from fans for his dismissal, but captain Stiliyan Petrov wants another truce between Houllier and Carew if Villa are to battle their way to safety.

Carew has been constantly over-looked by Houllier since his former Lyons manager arrived as a replacement for Martin O'Neill in the summer and relations between the pair have hit a low. West Bromwich Albion are ready to offer the Norwegian a fresh start away from Villa Park, but with the club in serious danger of relegation, Petrov believes it would be a huge mistake to allow last season's top scorer to leave in the midst of the crisis.

"I think the manager and him need to sort that out between themselves. They are grown men and I think everything is about the club," said Petrov. "If you want to have someone in the team you need to go and see what he can do. If we can have him it will be great because he has scored goals for us.

"We know what John is capable of. If they can sort it out we would definitely welcome him for the team. I would pick anybody who is available. We have good players and we need everyone available now. I hope John comes back, because it is really frustrating."

Petrov also called on Carew to justify his cult status among Villa fans and do all he can to assist the team, adding: "I won't go into details, but I tell you what, if John wants to show these fans that he wants to belong here, I hope he is going to help us because we really need him.

"He is definitely one of our best players and we hope we can have him. He has been a big figure here and we have missed him. Is he going to do it? You need to ask him."

The last time Villa were in the bottom three was in 2004 under David O'Leary and Houllier's record of just three wins in his 15 league games suggests the club face a monumental task to turn their season around. They have 1 7 games in which to revive their fortunes, but Houllier will have been badly wounded by his own club's supporters chanting "you're getting sacked in the morning," after the Sunderland defeat.

Petrov claims he has never heard anything like that in his professional career, but believes the fans have every right to voice their displeasure at the manager and the players. He threw away his captain's arm-band when he was substituted towards the end of Wednesday's 1-0 defeat, but insists his actions were not a direct protest against Houllier.

For the Bulgarian, it was simply a show of how much the current plight at Villa is hurting him and he would like a few of his colleagues to show the same kind of passion.

"It is frustration. A manager makes a decision, it is normal. It was nothing personal. He is the manager and he makes decisions. I like to see more players like that because we all try to help the team, but the manager made the decision and we get on with it."

Houllier at Villa Park

Odds to be next manager sacked: 10/1

Aston Villa record: P 19 W 5 D 5 L 9

League pos: 18th Appointed: 8 Sept 2010

Next game: Sheff United (a), tomorrow

Next league game: Birm'ham (a), 16 Jan