DION Dublin, the former Aston Villa forward, believes his old team must stop being slaves to fortune if they are to preserve their position in the higher echelons of the Premier League.
Dublin, who wore claret and blue on 155 occasions between 1998 and 2004, suggests Martin O’Neill’s men have ridden their luck in too many victories.
The retired striker, a television pundit, warned Villa must improve their performance level.
Dublin reckons the series of own goals and late winners Villa have benefited from have papered over cracks in their climb into the Champions League places.
“I suppose you make your own luck,” said Dublin, who scored 48 goals for Villa.
“But the luck can’t continue and the performances have to take over the luck.
“There will be tiredness, and Villa will say the same, because they have very high standards. They haven’t played particularly well on a regular basis, but they’ve had lots of luck. When the luck runs out they’ve got to fall back on something.”
Dublin, who joined Villa for £5.75million from Coventry City, is expecting Villa to raise their game over the coming months and is encouraged members of the Villa Park dressing room are aware of the need for improvement.
The 39-year-old is backing the more experienced members of O’Neill’s squad to lift their team-mates, starting with Saturday’s clash against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
“Curtis Davies has mentioned it,” said Dublin. “It is good a young lad
like that has noticed they’ve not been playing well and they’ll have to lift it.
“But I think they have individuals like Gareth Barry, Steve Sidwell and Stiliyan Petrov who can say: ‘Listen, we’ve not been playing too well, we can’t rely on luck, we can’t rely on those 91st-minute goals. We’ve got to start deserving to win games.’
“They’re playing some good stuff but they’ve been very fortunate on lots of occasions to score in the last five or ten minutes. I think they need to continue to ride their luck, but to put in some better performances.”
Dublin, who won four England caps in a career which also included spells at Cambridge United, Manchester United and Norwich City, amongst others, is confident Villa can finish in the top four.
However, he insists their prospects of clinching a Champions League place depend on them keeping their key players free from injury and suspension.
“They’re going the right way about it I feel,” he added.
“They’ve only used 18 players and they’re going to get tired and there’s going to be injuries.
“But at the moment while they’re playing how they’re playing and while they’re getting the luck they’re getting, yes I do feel they can finish fourth.”