Aston Villa V Man City at Villa Park - Match Preview
Updated Saturday, 11th February 2012
Dunne defends McLeish
Defender Richard Dunne has pleaded for Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish to be given time to make his mark at the midlands club, insisting: "You can't bring success overnight."
A section of Villa fans are proposing a demonstration against McLeish ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City.
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 boss has also had to contend 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."
Former City player Dunne insists the players have a healthy respect for McLeish.
He said: "He treats us with great respect and treats men like men. He's also an honest guy.
"If you're doing well you'll get a pat on the back and, if you're not, you'll get told. I think we all need that.
"He's not afraid to stand up and tell people things. It creates men and it makes you want to be stand up and be counted.
"He has a fierce will to win too. He loves winning and hates losing. He has that winning mentality, 100%."
McLeish believes Villa striker Darren Bent will get a fair crack of the whip from Harry Redknapp if he becomes the next England boss.
Bent was offloaded from Tottenham by Redknapp and, after one missed chance by the player, joked that his wife Sandra could have scored it
McLeish said: "I've not spoken to Darren about it. I can understand his concern but Harry will look at all possibilities and see Darren's record is pretty good.
"He may pick Sandra first! Seriously, I think Benty will have as good a chance as anyone if he keeps scoring goals, and he has been scoring recently.
"He missed a few last week but again he was in the right positions. He had three or four shots at goal, a good ratio away from home in one game."
Bent's strike partner, Gabriel Agbonlahor, is likely to be missing against City as he struggles to overcome back and hamstring problems.
McLeish said: "He is still a little bit tight in the hamstring area. We believe it is a nerve touching the disc. We are trying to rectify that.
"We know that Gabby would be very willing to play the game but, when he says that he is struggling a bit, you know that it is a genuine complaint."
City boss Roberto Mancini does not expect the protest by Villa fans to weaken his side's opponents.
Whatever their dissatisfaction, Mancini believes the mood will have changed by kick-off and does not think the Villa players will be unsettled.
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 also intends to ignore the performances of City's title rivals to concentrate solely on his own team's displays.
Mancini, who claimed he "didn't see" United's 3-3 draw at Chelsea last week, said: "We can't think about the other teams. We can lose our strength by thinking about the other teams."
City are boosted by the return of captain Vincent Kompany from a knee injury while Samir Nasri is also fit after a groin problem.
Striker Mario Balotelli is again missing as he completes a four-match ban for a stamp on Tottenham's Scott Parker.
Mancini expects to have midfield inspiration Yaya Toure and his brother Kolo, the defender, back from the African Nations Cup for next Thursday's Europa League trip to Porto.