Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier insists he retains the support of club owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner despite his side slipping into the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League.

Supporters chanted 'you're getting sacked in the morning' after Villa were beaten 1-0 at home by Sunderland. A goal from former Villa loan signing Phil Bardsley meant the midlands club slipped into 18th position in the table, but Houllier received words of encouragement from Faulkner after the final whistle and is adamant that Lerner also remains supportive.

The former Liverpool boss said: "I spoke to Paul Faulkner and he was very supportive. I don't doubt Randy Lerner's firm support and determination. We are in this together for better or worse."

Houllier admitted to being "hurt" by the fans' chants but also understood their frustration.

He said: "I understand the fans' frustration and the players can't complain about the fans because, when we were under the cosh, they were still supporting the team.

"We knew we had a difficult programme up until February but hopefully after that we will be better. It is very tight in the table and one win can move you up. All we need at the moment is to keep morale and confidence."

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce admits that victory came at a heavy price in terms of injury setbacks.

He confirmed that midfielder David Meyler had suffered cruciate knee ligament damage and will be out of action for at least six months. In addition on-loan Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck suffered a hamstring injury which will be scanned on Thursday.

Bruce believes the heavy festive programme is to blame for such setbacks.

He said: "In the Premier League you get players having to play five games in 13 days and players are picking up injuries through fatigue. It was a tremendous victory but I think we have now got 10 players missing and we may have to bring one or two bodies in during January."

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#Sunderland
#Football
#Premier League
#Steve Bruce
#Danny Welbeck
#Manchester United
#Aston Villa
#David Meyler
#Liverpool