Gabriel Agbonlahor has launched a fresh appeal for unity after warning that the hostility towards Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is having a damaging effect on the players.
Villa’s current longest servant is hoping the Villa Park faithful provide a positive atmosphere to help end their winless home run against Fulham on Saturday.
Agbonlahor is keen to stress he is not lecturing supporters, but merely giving his honest opinion of how the negativity is affecting the dressing room.
“Obviously the fans are entitled to their opinions,” said Agbonlahor.
“I think the chairman has made a choice in bringing the manager here and everyone has to get behind him.
“I think it affects the players otherwise.
“You only have to look at what happened at Blackburn where Steve Kean was getting a lot of abuse, although it has died down a bit now. But it does have an impact on the players and does affect them when they are not backing the manager and not turning up to games.
“In previous seasons the fans have got behind the team no matter what and I think if they can keep doing that it helps the players.
“If they really get behind the team and the players it can give everyone a real lift.
“We need every single one of them to support us from now until the end of the season.”
More than most players at Villa, Agbonlahor understands the mood among fans having grown up supporting the club and living in the area. But he has appealed to McLeish’s critics to appreciate the effort the manager is putting in to try to lift Villa and to give him more time.
“The fans don’t perhaps see how hard the manager and coaches work behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis, only what happens on a Saturday,” said Agbonlahor.
“He is doing a good job here and there needs to be patience.
“You only have to look at clubs like Chelsea where the manager does not get that chance and it makes it more difficult for you as a player.
“I think he has come in at the beginning of the season and fans need to give him time to work his ideas through the club.
“It’s a new team and we’ve had a lot of injuries, which means we have never really had that steady side every week. Robbie Keane has gone, Darren Bent and Richard Dunne are both injured, Ciaran Clark’s missing as well.
“We are all in it together. There has never been a problem here with any of the players. I think everyone knows their job and I think we’ve been unlucky not to get more wins this season. Hopefully we’ll get a few more breaks.”
Agbonlahor admits the drop in crowds are a concern, but he wants fans to stick with Villa through good and bad.
“The attendances haven’t been as good as in previous seasons, but I think part of that is a money thing,” he added. “More games are on television and it is harder for people to get to games. There are different reasons, but despite that we are still up there among the clubs with bigger attendances.
“We’ve been fighting for the top four in the past and missed out. We finished sixth a couple of seasons and last season we came ninth. Not every season will be the same. There are going to be ups and downs.
“As long as the fans are true to Villa and stick by the players then we’ll get through it.
"All clubs go through peaks and troughs. For us to keep moving we up need them there for us. Times are not always going to be a good as we want them to be.”