Aston Villa Vs Liverpool, Sun 22 May 2011

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Gary McAllister admits Aston Villa have underachieved this season and will not use all the changes which have taken place during the past nine months as an excuse.

Villa will bring the curtain down on a campaign in which four different managers have been at the helm - Martin O'Neill, caretaker Kevin MacDonald, Gerard Houllier and now stand-in boss McAllister.

They have been hovering above the relegation zone for most of the season after three top-six finishes in a row.

McAllister knows they have to improve on that but can also see grounds for optimism ahead of the final game with Liverpool at Villa Park.

He said: "It has most definitely not been a successful season. This place is geared for better than that.

"It has been a massive season of change and you can maybe look for that as an excuse - but we don't see it as an excuse. It's been disappointing.

"It's been frustrating but there is enough to suggest we can take it forward. There are a lot of encouraging things.

"In a very frustrating season our three main forwards have been major players for the England team this year for Fabio Capello.

"Everybody also knows of the calibre of young players we have got here and we have had to use a few of those guys this season when it wasn't on.

"They were tight games and big games where we had to push some youngsters in. They will have benefited from that so it's not all doom and gloom."


McAllister also admitted: "I know from being a player that they don't like change. By the time we got here, there had been two managers and then we've had what's happened to Gerard Houllier (a heart problem).

"They have had four different people doing team talks to them this year and that's not been ideal. But again we don't want to look back and start looking for excuses.

"It has been very frustrating and tough for the fans who are very unaccustomed to being in the bottom half and near the relegation zone.

"But there was a nice push towards the end where we realised we were in trouble and the response we got from everybody here was fantastic. Now we want to finish on a high against Liverpool."

McAllister has no fresh injury concerns and striker Darren Bent will be looking to take his goal tally with Villa into double figures since moving from Sunderland in January.

Kenny Dalglish could cap a successful first five months in charge since returning as Liverpool manager by qualifying for Europe - but there will be no introspection or reflection from the canny Scot.

A place in the Europa League seemed a distant hope when he succeeded Roy Hodgson in January with the team 12th in the Premier League, seemingly with more worries about the bottom of the table than the top.

But if they can get a better result at Aston Villa than Tottenham do at home to relegation-threatened Birmingham then a 12th successive season of European football will be secured.

Dalglish, however, will be focused on what improvements he can make to the team for next season rather than congratulating himself on turning around a faltering campaign which had seen the club drop into the bottom three at one point.

"I don't think we need to reflect, I think we need to sit down and have conversations with people we trust - both for their integrity and judgement in football," he said.

"We could sit and reflect but we know most of the answers now."

Dalglish joked that signing a three-year-contract last week had not done him any favours in terms of results - having lost to Tottenham last Sunday.

He also said it was not even much benefit in terms of helping the club move forward as plans had already been put in place for next season before his position was confirmed, although once the side started winning that was a mere formality.

"The planning was going on any way, irrespective of who was coming in because you can't leave it until the last minute," he added.

"For training and some of the pre-season matches, planning had to be done.

"If you're sitting in this chair you've got to make the decision about what you want to do and when you want to train.

"But regarding players, there's only one person who can decide that, and that's the manager.

"That's something we need to come to terms with and get our skates on with to make sure we get to the right players."

Midfielder Raul Meireles returns to the squad after missing last week's defeat with a minor injury.

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