Richard Dunne urges Aston Villa fans to lay off Alex McLeish 'for a few weeks'

 

Aston Villa vice-captain Richard Dunne has urged fans to put aside their grievances with manager Alex McLeish "for a few weeks" and instead support the team's bid to beat the drop.

Dunne has been out since February with a broken collarbone and left to watch from the sidelines as McLeish's side were dragged into the mire.

Villa currently sit three points above the Barclays Premier League drop zone with three games to play, following a woeful run of form culminating in Tuesday's 2-1 home defeat by fellow strugglers Bolton.

McLeish has never been popular with supporters - not least because he arrived from cross-city rivals Birmingham last summer - and his stock among fans has deteriorated further as Villa's plight has worsened.

Dunne, however, believes criticism has been harshly directed at the Scot and insists it is in the fans' interests to support the team.

He told Press Association Sport: "It's very important for the fans that they support us, because they want to be watching Premier League football next season.

"We are giving our best and things just haven't gone right for us.

"But we've got three weeks to go and we need three weeks of massive support from everyone. We need everyone behind us and hopefully they will see the benefit of this season being a season when we've blooded six or seven youngsters in the first team and we can build on that and learn from this experience."

The Republic of Ireland centre-half questioned whether McLeish's Birmingham connections are an issue with supporters.

"It's obviously difficult to come across and if you look at the start of the season, up to Christmas we were probably in a reasonable enough position where we were always three points away from pushing on to challenge for a top-six, top-seven position.

"Since the turn of the year Robbie Keane has gone back to Los Angeles, we've had a couple of injuries and we've just not been able to put out a settled side. It's not helped.

"I don't think it's the fact he's come from Birmingham, it's the fact the results haven't gone our way and the fans have been frustrated themselves.

"But it's deeper than just what's happened on the pitch because it's not that bad there.

"It's everything that goes on. The injury list, obviously the illness to Stan (Stiliyan Petrov's leukaemia) knocked everyone as well.

"It's hard, we just need the support now for a few weeks."

Dunne was quick to jump to McLeish's defence.

"We work with him all day, every week, and we know how much work he is putting into it," he said. "He is the person who keeps our group going and keeps us all motivated, so we don't like to see him getting any stick because it's us, at the end of the day, who are out on the pitch. I know the fans have their issues and stuff but we need them to get behind him, to get behind us, to get behind everyone.

"He is doing his best for us. He's been unfortunate with the injury list that he's had all through the season."

Villa have the chance to boost their survival hopes against West Brom on Saturday and will have leader Dunne back in their ranks after he returned to training.

"I've been training in the last week and I'm ready to go and available for the game at the weekend," he said.

"It's been frustrating because I sort of felt all right but it hadn't fully knitted together at that point but I went to see the surgeon last week and he said everything's fine and I'm ready to go again."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project