Aston Villa's Stilian Petrov says blame players not Gérard Houllier

Stilian Petrov believes the finger of blame for Aston Villa's poor season should be pointed at the players and not Gérard Houllier.

Aston Villa's Stilian Petrov says blame players not Gérard Houllier The Frenchman has presided over three victories in 13 league games since taking over as manager in September, leaving Villa hovering above the relegation zone ahead of two tricky away trips, against the high-flying Manchester City tomorrow and the champions, Chelsea, on Sunday.

Petrov, however, claims that responsibility for Villa's decline this season lies with the players rather than Houllier and has urged his team-mates to find a remedy for their malaise or face the inevitable consequences of a relegation battle. The Bulgarian is confident Villa have the players to turn their season around now that he and several others have returned from injury but he is also under no illusions about the seriousness of their current plight.

"It was a disappointing result [against Spurs]," said Petrov, who needed eight stitches above his right eye after an aerial clash with Peter Crouch in the second half. "It is not good at all and we need to start pulling things together. We created chances and put pressure on them. We just can't score and all of a sudden we find the ball in our net. We need to tighten things up and we need to know if we don't start winning we could find ourselves in a very difficult position.

"We are the ones to blame and we are the ones to get us out of this situation," said the club captain. "It is up to us to turn it around. Why do you need to blame the manager? We are the ones who play and get results. When we win we are the ones who get all the credit. We are not doing it. It is up to us now to produce a fighting spirit and we need the fans behind us. We are down there and not far from the relegation zone. We want to get back where we belong."

Villa travel to Eastlands anxious to improve their dreadful away record, which has seen them score only five times in eight games on the road and collect four points from a possible 24. Emile Heskey will be missing after the striker twisted his ankle in the first half against Spurs and Ashley Young is also likely to remain sidelined with a knee injury. Nigel Reo-Coker, however, is set to make his first start since the beginning of November as part of a five-man midfield.

"We need that little bit of luck, which we haven't had at the moment," Petrov said. "But we have a lot of players back now and we will turn things around. Sometimes when you don't expect to you can pick up results. We have a capable team who can win anywhere. Manchester City are up there and they have a chance [of winning the league]. But we need to worry [about] the way we are, not what Manchester City are doing."

Powered by article was written by Stuart James, for The Guardian on Monday 27th December 2010 22.31 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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