Alex McLeish wants a sell-out Villa Park crowd to play their part in ending Aston Villa’s 16-year home hoodoo against Manchester United on Saturday.

Villa have not beaten Sir Alex Ferguson’s superstars in the Premier League since the memorable 3-1 opening-day victory under Brian Little in August 1995.

But McLeish insists that record must eventually be broken – and will challenge his players to make history by ending the winless sequence.

And in a season when attendances have dipped, Villa are hoping to put up the sold-out signs for the first time.

McLeish believes the teatime encounter will give Villa a chance to test themselves against the established elite on home territory.

And he believes a victory would sweep away some of the negativity threatening to engulf B6 and create a feelgood factor at the club.

“It should be a full house when Manchester United come to town,” said McLeish.

“Newcastle are in the top six at the moment, but of the established top six clubs, none of them have been to Villa Park yet.

“This is the first one and it’s against the champions. We know how good they are and we’ll hopefully show them how good we can be.”

Villa Park’s average gate has been down several thousand on last season, although United are the first of their big crowd-pulling opponents.

But McLeish reckons the home faithful can be the ‘12th man’ for Villa by roaring the players to an enhanced performance level.

The boss wants to create an intimidating atmosphere at Villa Park where visiting teams know they are in for a difficult time.

“I think the crowd will play their part, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” said McLeish. “There’s that banner at the Holte End – ‘the 12th man’ – but I’m sure the whole ground will be right behind us.

“They’re all massive challenges.

“But there’s no doubt that playing at home against one of the top clubs, to win a game like that does wonders for everybody’s confidence and the fans.

“We’re at Villa Park, we want clubs like Man United going back up on the bus saying ‘What a game they gave us there, that’s a hard place to go’.

“That’s what we’ve got to instil into the mentality here.

“Some day Villa will beat Manchester United again at Villa Park, why can’t it be this weekend?”

McLeish admits there is room for improvement with his tactics and his players’ performance as he tries to make his team click.

“I’m still juggling some balls in terms of getting the right systems and formulas,” he added.

“I don’t think the 4-4-2 really worked at Tottenham, we were far too open in the centre of midfield and I changed that at Swansea.

“In terms of players’ performance levels, I think we’re looking for 7-10s, between those numbers, for players to really stamp their personalities on the team.

“I’ve still got a nucleus of players, of course, but we’re just looking for that bit extra.

“I need more from everybody. I’m still juggling balls and waiting for players to pick up the gauntlet and say ‘Try and leave me out next week’.

“That’s why I’ve been doing a wee bit of chopping and changing.”

Villa’s last cup win over United at Villa Park was a 3-0 League Cup victory in October 1999.