x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Richard Dunne defends his manager ahead of Manchester City match

Fans plan to protest against Alex McLeish, while Mancini admits mistakes but says the Fulham win was important and will ignore rivals' results.

Aston Villa's Richard Dunne, centre, played in the 2-1 loss to Newcastle. They host Manchester City today amid protest from the fans.
Aston Villa's Richard Dunne, centre, played in the 2-1 loss to Newcastle. They host Manchester City today amid protest from the fans.

Ahead of a proposed demonstration today against Alex McLeish by some Aston Villa fans, the defender Richard Dunne has asked for his manager to be given time to make his mark at the club, saying: "You can't bring success overnight."

The anti-McLeish demonstration is to be held before the Premier League clash with Manchester City.

Villa are 13th in the table, but statistics show McLeish's record after 23 league games at Villa is better than that of Martin O'Neill, who steered the club to three successive top six-finishes, and Gerard Houllier.

The former Birmingham City manager has also contended with having limited money at his disposal for new signings and having to reduce the wage bill.

Dunne said: "Alex McLeish is desperate for this club to do well. Realistically, for us to be challenging in the top 10 is sensible until the manager can settle the team down and make it grow.

"You can't bring success overnight. You need to give the manager time. He needs enough time to put his stamp on the team and build a squad and team to challenge. He's a good man. He's here all day, every day, doing absolutely everything he can to try and get things right.

"He talks to every player and wants their feedback to see what we can do to improve things and make things better. He's the same as the players. He's trying 100 per cent. Not everything we do is going to be correct but it's not for the want of trying."

Dunne, the former City player, said the players and McLeish respect each other, adding: "He treats men like men. "

Roberto Mancini, the City manager, does not expect the protest to influence the Villa players. When asked if City could capitalise on any uncertainty, Mancini said: "We would hope to but I don't know this.

"It won't change our opinion, it will still be a difficult game. They lost their last game against Newcastle and so we will need to play a good game if we want to win against Aston Villa. When the game starts their supporters will support their team, always."

Mancini was heavily critical of himself after City were beaten at Everton in their last away game.

The Italian took the blame for the loss by saying he underestimated their opponents and did not prepare the team properly.

He insists he and the players cannot afford to repeat any such errors as they attempt to reclaim top sport today from Manchester United - who went to the summit yesterday following a 2-1 win against Liverpool.

He said: "I know what my job is but I am human. Sometimes I can make mistakes, like the referee, like the players.

"Everyone can make a mistake sometimes. It is important the players understand this and they put everything on the pitch. When you think that you have made some mistakes, after you prepare better."

City have been title favourites since their 6-1 thrashing of United at Old Trafford last October but have been unable to pull clear at the top. In the past two months they have lost at Chelsea, Sunderland and Everton as well as dropping points at West Bromwich Albion.

They got their campaign back on track with a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Fulham last weekend but the battle remains tight.

Mancini said: "For us, it was really important to beat Fulham with a clean sheet. But I think every game from now until the end will be very difficult."

He also intends to ignore the rivals to concentrate solely on City's own performances. He said he "didn't see" United's 3-3 draw at Chelsea last week: "We can't think about the other teams. We can lose our strength by thinking about the other teams."