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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar, 1, 2012

McLeish fazed by Villa pressure

Alex McLeish insists he is "strong enough" to handle the pressure of being the target of dissenting Aston Villa fans and urged them to throw their support behind his injury-hit team.

• Villa announce £54m loss
• Bent out for season

Villa supporters vented their anger towards former Birmingham boss McLeish during last week's goalless draw at bottom side Wigan.

Now they will face another bottom-three team in Blackburn on Thursday without striker Darren Bent, who will miss the rest of the season with ruptured ankle ligaments, but McLeish, in a week where his club announced losses of nearly £54 million, remains in determined mood.

Asked if the disgruntlement of some fans had affected him, McLeish said: "It's never stopped me, I've never wavered in my commitment to Aston Villa in terms of helping the club, working with the club, and the course we are taking.

"Of course, I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, that it was easy to handle and there was no pressure whatever. That would be total fabrication, but I believe I'm strong enough and I've got the experience to handle it.

"At the moment it is a bit gloomy with the financial figures coming in and the fans showing a bit of dissent at the moment, with a few never really fancying me coming in in the first place, but if the fans can leave their grievances for other situations rather than during the 90 minutes and support every player, it would be great."

McLeish has faith in the players at his disposal to ease the current plight, with Bent, Richard Dunne (collarbone) and Ciaran Clark (knee) all long-term victims.

He said: "Your hands are tied. You need your players and you need your best players. These are the things that are out of your control as a manager, when players get traumatic injuries such as the one Darren got last week at Wigan.

"It is a huge blow on the back of losing Richard Dunne for a couple of months, Ciaran Clark for six weeks while Robbie Keane has ended his loan agreement, but I still believe we have the quality in this club to steer us clear and get us up the table."

Meanwhile, Villa have offered a new contract to goalkeeper Brad Guzan but McLeish understands the dilemma the United States international faces over his future.

Guzan's current deal runs out at the end of the campaign and he has struggled to establish himself as first choice during his four years at Villa, but he impressed McLeish during a run of seven Barclays Premier League games in December and January, when regular number one Shay Given was sidelined through injury.

McLeish said: "We will give Brad time. It depends on how long though. We have certainly made the offer and we respect that Brad needs time to mull it over. I understand the dilemma he is facing."

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