Aston Villa's players have pledged support for their manager at the end of one of the most uncomfortable weeks of David O'Leary's career.

For the second week running, O'Leary came under fire from a small section of fans, frustrated by injury-ravaged Villa's failure to beat Fulham.

But, after ending a run of three straight defeats, the Villa players insist that the flak coming O'Leary's way is from a minority.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen pointed out that, at the first whistle on Saturday, the fans sounded a lot more supportive than has sometimes been the case at home games this season.

"The fans were fantastic," said Sorensen. "And that's what we needed. People are entitled to their opinions, but it doesn't help anyone getting on the manager's or the players' backs.

"We knew we needed to get the fans on our side. And I think we did that in the first half. We knew we had to go out and prove ourselves. And the only thing lacking was a goal or two.

With a bit of luck we'd have scored, but the ball seemed to bounce for Fulham.

"Since Christmas, we've played really well overall, even if we haven't had the results to match."

Sorensen is also adamant that the criticism of O'Leary's is unfair. "Even Jose Mourinho gets criticised sometimes when Chelsea win ten games, then go and lose the next one," he said. "It's just one bad week we've had. People don't remember two or three games back. They remember only what happened last week.

"There was always going to be criticism directed at the players, the manager, the chairman, whoever. But the manager hasn't changed. He's still 100 per cent committed. "And we'll bounce back as a team, with David O'Leary as the manager."

Northern Irish defender Aaron Hughes added: "The players are right behind the manager.

"We just want to get this 40-point mark that everyone talks about and finish the season as high as we can, then hopefully build a squad in pre-season to challenge and make next season less frustrating. The fans want success here. But we do as well.

"It has just been one of those frustrating seasons where one day we've been brilliant like at Middlesbrough, then another day like at West Ham you don't know what goes wrong."

It said much about the feelings of the Villa fans that, when a verbal attack on O'Leary did come, it was rapidly drowned out by a far larger section of fans chanting the manager's name. And the Villa boss was nonplussed when asked about two banners ridiculing him that were unfurled at the Holte End.

"That comes with football," said O'Leary. "But if there is one banner out of 32,000 people, I'm big enough to take it. The main thing was that the fans stayed with the team."