James Milner believes Aston Villa have been victims of their own success and insists finishing fifth in the Barclays Premier League would represent "a great achievement".
Villa's Â£12 million record signing feels expectation levels were raised because of the flying start to the campaign. A late-season dip in form means Martin O'Neill's side have had to be content with a place in the revamped Europa League.
But Milner said: "The negativity does not come from us. We know that we can play better and results have not been going our way."
He added: "When you start the season as well as we did, then expectations rise.
"Maybe if we had started really badly and finished the last two thirds of the season the way we started, done things the other way around, people would have said 'what a great season'.
"We are still on for fifth place. It is a great achievement. We have had a good season we just have to make sure we finish strongly."
Milner accepts that some of the Villa players have looked jaded in recent games after their early start to the campaign via the Intertoto Cup.
He said: "It has been a long season for the lads, having started in the InterToto. There have been a lot of games and at times during the last few games we have looked tired.
"That's all due to the hard work the lads put in. There is a lot of mileage being put into games, a lot of effort and a lot of games.
"That's what comes with being successful. You play a lot of games and we have to learn to deal with that."
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