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By ESPN Staff

McLeish vows to strengthen

Under-fire manager Alex McLeish has revealed Aston Villa will look to sign more quality players this summer after a season of underachievement.

Villa are mathematically not safe from relegation, but last weekend's 1-1 home draw with Tottenham will surely be enough due to their superior goal difference over Bolton.

McLeish has struggled to win over the Villa fans after his controversial switch from Birmingham and knows there has to be an improvement in fortunes.

He said: "It's about getting more quality in the squad and getting a team that can get further up that table and a team that wants to win badly. We need to get a winning mentality. That's what we'll try and change.

"I am anticipating change this summer. We have to bring in some added quality to the squad. If you look at the back-up this season, we could have easily been four or five players short of real quality and experience.

"We can certainly look to make sure next season is a more productive season than this one.''

McLeish, whose side visit Norwich, knows the expectation levels of Villa supporters but points to a lengthy injury list, including £18 million record signing Darren Bent, in mitigation.

He said: "We have underachieved for Aston Villa in terms of past history and in terms of the name Aston Villa. People expect us higher up the table. This is not the Aston Villa team of 1982 (when they won the European Cup) and people have to realise that.

"But sometimes there are reasons for that not being the case and losing four or five players at crucial moments of the season has not helped. We have missed Darren Bent for 19 games now. I would have expected four or five goals in those games at least which would have made things more comfortable for us.''

McLeish is full of admiration for Norwich boss Paul Lambert who played under him at Motherwell.

He said: "Paul has had that squad together for two or three years and they have jumped up the divisions with great ease.

"He has done a fantastic job. He's got his team playing together and they've got a great understanding from being together for a long time, which helps any team to progress.''

McLeish believes the negative reaction towards him does not prevail through all sections of the club's fanbase.

He said: "I don't believe that it's a giant contingent of fans. I believe it's a silent majority out there. I certainly think the fans have been really, really good this season. They have reacted as I would expect any fan in the world to react when their team loses a game.

"I don't think there's anything more negative about our fans than any other fans.''

Striker Emile Heskey and defender Carlos Cuellar are likely to make their final appearances for Villa after indicating they will be leaving this summer when their contracts expire.

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