Under-fire Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has support of owner Randy Lerner

 

Alex McLeish claims he has the backing of Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner after fans called for him to be sacked after last night's 2-1 home defeat by Bolton.

Villa are now just three points above the Barclays Premier League bottom three and have won one of their last 13 games.

Supporters turned on manager McLeish after Villa surrendered the lead given them by Stephen Warnock as goals from Martin Petrov (penalty) and David Ngog earned Bolton a survival lifeline.

McLeish said the level of abuse towards him "was a first" but he is determined to win the battle to stay up with the support of Lerner and Faulkner.

McLeish said: "They were supportive, they said 'you've got to keep your head up'.

"They said everyone has to stay together and battle together and see it through.

"It (the fans' reaction) has also not weakened my resolve to carry on and see this through. Absolutely not. I'm not someone who shirks a challenge and I'll keep going.

"I can understand the fans' reaction. We went into a deserved lead and to see the game turn around like it did was horrible.

"I'll keep fighting for this team to get the points that can make us safe and every player knows the task facing them as well."

McLeish, whose side visit West Brom on Saturday, admitted: "We are in a relegation fight but we have got to rally the players for the next game.

"There are still nine points to play for, our destiny is still in our own hands.

"I believe in the players and believe we will still be in this division next season."

Bolton boss Owen Coyle, who played under McLeish at Motherwell, hit out at the level of abuse levelled towards the former Birmingham manager.

He said: "It is not a nice part of football. We have the best game in the world and that sort of thing is something I would like to eradicate.

"Surely there is an onus on you as a person to make your point without being poisonous about it."

Coyle hailed "a massive win" by his side as they climbed into 18th spot, only one point adrift of Wigan.

He said: "I was livid at half-time and let the players know that because we never got to the level we are capable of in the first half.

"But to be fair, in the second half, they were terrific even after going a goal behind.

"The character and the belief shown by the players after Villa's goal was there for all to see and when we passed and moved the ball around we looked a very good side.

PA

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