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Premier League

Ron Vlaar: Aston Villa must stay up to stave off job losses says captain ahead of Sunderland game

Villa captain keen to cut out the errors as Paolo Di Canio relishes another hot reception

Ron Vlaar knows how far-reaching the effects of relegation will be upon Aston Villa if they cannot drag themselves away from the Premier League's bottom three.

Vlaar made a point of shaking the hand of every member of the club's staff on his first day after moving from Feyenoord last summer. Many of those people will lose their jobs if Villa lose the fight to stay up.

"I know, we also play for them, that's for sure," the Dutch defender and Villa captain said. "We have to realise it's not only about the players, it's about the club and everybody involved in the club. I just want to stay up with Villa, that's the most important thing for now. If we play Premier League, that's good enough.

"Obviously it's too many goals [conceded] but I think it's not right to blame it only on the defenders; it's the whole team. Of course nobody wants to make mistakes. I've looked at myself and I also made mistakes that have cost us goals. We have to do better, that's for sure. Nobody makes a mistake on purpose but it happens. We have to make sure that it happens less times.

"It's my first year in the Premier League and it's different to what I was used to but I think I can do better, I know I can do better. It's not easy but that's one thing I can improve.

"I'm 28 but I think, it wasn't an easy season, but for my first season I could do better, I expect more from myself. I want to stay up and then we have a new season and I think it's going to be better. I'm never completely satisfied with the way I play, I always look for games to improve and organise, also in battles, fights, headers, I want to make less mistakes. I just have to be better.

"The manager is calm and relaxed and I think he knows what he's doing. Of course sometimes he's upset, but he has to be upset when things go wrong."

There will be added spice in tonight's crucial clash with Sunderland at Villa Park, following gestures made by Paolo di Canio when Aston Villa played Swindon Town – the club he then managed – in the Capital One Cup in October. The Sunderland manager insisted his signal towards Swindon's supporters was about the League One side dominating the game. The visiting fans took it as a gesture that their side was going down.

"Well, if that happened, I think they didn't forget it and that could be in our favour," added Vlaar.

The Sunderland manager characteristcally brushed off any possible bad blood. "I wasn't worried about Newcastle, who are the worst enemy supporters for us, so you can imagine, I'm not worried about Villa Park," said Di Canio. "For me, it's like going to the theatre or seeing Pavarotti when he was still alive. It's an easy place to go. I hope they are going to concentrate their energies on me, I'm not worried. It's important that my players get the result we want and then celebrate and smile.

"If I receive another 2,000 bad words about me, I can add that to the millions I got in the past in Glasgow, Rome and Milan. It's not an issue.

"To beat Villa we give ourselves a great chance to stay up with two home games to come. If we win our game then we can't worry about anyone else. There are three or four clubs still behind us.

"Will I give the players a day off if we win? I am looking for commitment and desire from them. If they give everything and lose 3-0, I will recognise they gave everything.

"If they win or draw, but the performance is really bad in terms of technical or tactical, then I might change my decision about how we start next week. The plans are already there, win or lose."