Micah Richards has warned Aston Villa that they cannot allow the 'negativity' to set in front of their own supporters as they suffer back-to-back defeats on their return to the Premier League.
The former defender claimed that the last time Villa were in England's top-flight, in 2016, the players were 'actually scared' to playing in front of the Villa Park crowd - that season resulted in the Midlands outfit getting relegated for the first time in nearly three decades.
Over the weekend, Dean Smith's side played their first home match of the season, but within 15 minutes, they were 2-0 down, with individual errors proving to be very costly.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live (19/08/2019 at 7:50 pm), Richards believes the Villa Park crowd need to stay positive, as he referenced to his days at the club and how bad it can become.
"They have Tyrone Mings. Jack Grealish. John McGinn. Conor Hourihane. El Ghazi, who came on loan last season as well. So, you've got a spine," Richards told 5 Live Sport. "Yes, the results are not gone to plan, but I think the early goal killed them against Bournemouth and the heads went down. But in the second half, they played with a bit more confidence.
"Villa Park is always rocking on the first couple of games and they just need to keep that positivity and keep playing how the manager wants them to play. Don't let any negativity set it. When we were in the Premier League, the last time, after about seven or eight games, the players were actually scared to play at Villa Park. That's how bad it was.
"They thought players weren't trying or weren't giving 100% on the field. But this time it's a different feeling. They have a great manager and some great young players. I just think they need that first win. Dean Smith will get more time because he loves the club. The fans love the way he plays. But he needs the points to get the full backing from fans."
Despite the poor start, the big difference from Villa's previous Premier League campaign to this one is that the players are trying for the badge on the front.
There's no doubt that the Villa players gave up from top to bottom in 2016, and it resulted in utter disaster for the club, as it took three years to clear out.
Now, Villa, led by a boyhood manager and a boyhood captain, are in the best place they have been in a very long time, and despite two defeats, the fans are fully behind the club and eager to get those points on the board.
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