Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is still committed to bank-rolling Martin O'Neill's transfer targets according to his right-hand man General Charles Krulak.
O'Neill has operated with the smallest squad in the Premier League this season and only bought Tottenham midfielder Wayne Routledge for £1.25million during the January transfer window.
That has led to speculation that Lerner has tightened the purse strings even though O'Neill has been allowed to spend £40million since the pair joined forces at Villa 20 months ago. But Krulak is adamant Lerner's stance has not altered in terms of backing O'Neill.
Krulak told the Villa supporters' web-site Villa Talk: "There are people questioning whether Randy Lerner is really willing to spend money to improve the team. I can assure you that he is."
O'Neill is refusing to blame the size of his squad for Villa's downturn in fortunes - only two points from the last five games - which has virtually ended their hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Cup. He said: "Most of those players have got us into a decent position in the first place so I wouldn't want to be throwing the size of the squad around as an excuse.
"There are dark periods in the season when players don't perform to their capabilities. If you have got enough faith in them, you either decide they can play through that and come out of it again or maybe you think some people should come out and you change it around.
"The long and short of it is we have got ourselves in this predicament and we have to do something about it. It is a big football club and if we don't make Europe over a course of a season, we won't have deserved it.
"We are improving as a team. You wouldn't have seen too many signs of it in recent games but we are improving as a side."