Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black hopes his team’s efforts in the 3-2 defeat at Watford can help to mend relations with the club’s fanbase.
Relegated Villa led twice at Vicarage Road through Ciaran Clark and Jordan Ayew but Aly Cissokho’s red card for a professional foul on Ikechi Anya turned the tide and a late brace from Troy Deeney helped to ease the pressure of Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.
A mutinous atmosphere has surrounded Villa home games in recent weeks but Black felt a sizable travelling contingent will have been encouraged by their display in an 11th consecutive league loss – matching the worst run in club history dating back to 1962-63.
“The players have been criticised, and justifiably so, but not today,” he told a post-match news conference. “Ultimately of course you need to win games but there was a lot to be encouraged by.
“It’s a fantastic football club with fantastic supporters and maybe it’s just one little step towards getting the supporters back on side.
“I thought the effort of the players was outstanding, they showed desire and hunger but the sending-off changes the whole context of the game.
“At 2-1 up, I thought we looked like the team who were going to score again. The key moment is the sending off.”
Black sympathised with Cissokho’s efforts to win the ball but ultimately had no complaints over the Frenchman receiving his marching orders.
“I think Aly makes contact with the ball but, in doing that, I think his momentum takes his leg up,” Black added.
“I can see why the referee has interpreted it the way he did.”
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