herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

McLeish: yo-yo form must end

Alex McLeish has demanded an end to Aston Villa's Jekyll and Hyde performances and wants 90 minutes of quality in every game as he prepares for tomorrow's visit to Newcastle.

The midlands club's yo-yo form has been evident in recent weeks with the win at Wolves after trailing at half-time and then the FA Cup exit at Arsenal after leading 2-0.

But McLeish (right) is expecting his players to repeat the kind of commitment evident during the second-half comeback to draw 2-2 against QPR in midweek.

He said: "It's been Jekyll and Hyde. We can't afford to do that. We need to show the second-half performance against QPR full-time from now on.

"Against Arsenal in the league, we lost here at Villa Park but the players got applauded off at half-time and full-time.

"Why is that? Because they showed full commitment and tempo.

"What was said after the QPR game is not really for public consumption. The players knew I wasn't happy with the first half and needed to stand up and be counted."

McLeish admits the lack of experience in midfield has put extra pressure on his defence this season but knows they have to become tighter at the back.

He said: "It gets me when we concede silly goals. Some days we can be magnificent at the back and then we concede a few daft goals.

"But the pressure is on the back five this season because we have lacked a bit of experience in the midfield and also with new players coming in.

"That means the back four or five can be got at at times because we have lacked that experience."



Blunder

One of those experienced heads is left-back Stephen Warnock and McLeish is full of praise for the way he recovered from his own-goal blunder against QPR.

He said: "It's not nice for Stephen to be in for criticism but that happens. It's about showing your character.

"Stephen was angry with himself but in the second half I can say 'well done'. He didn't bury his head in his hands and he showed good character."

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