Shay's plea for Villa unity before tricky Tottenham encounter
21:41 GMT, 29 April 2012
Alex McLeish’s players have made a plea for unity ahead of their crunch Villa Park clash with Tottenham.
So far this season, any public disquiet at McLeish’s reign has seen a few dozen disgruntled fans make their feelings clear on matchdays.
However, following the poisonous scenes at Villa Park in the wake of the home defeat by Bolton, Sunday’s game with Spurs could see far more vociferous demonstrations.
Plea: Shay Given wants a better atmosphere around the club
And, after a battling draw with local rivals Albion, both keeper Shay Given and defender Alan Hutton were keen to make their point.
‘Whatever their thoughts, the most important thing is that Aston Villa stay in the Premier League,’ said Given.
‘Of course, they were disappointed last Tuesday. We all were. It is important we stick together.
‘It’s not about the manager. It’s about the players. About Aston Villa as a club.’
Hutton added: ‘We know they are disappointed, but if they could put that to one side and get behind us for what is a huge game, it would be a massive help. It does give you a lift to have the crowd totally behind you, especially at such a big stadium as Villa Park.’
It was Given who produced a stunning stop in the dying seconds to prevent Peter Odemwingie snatching a win for Albion. ‘That’s what good goalkeepers do,’ said McLeish.
‘And for me Shay would rank among the best ever. I wouldn’t want to be as dramatic as to say it has saved us, but to lose in the last minute would have been utterly depressing.’