LONDON: Alex McLeish knows what his old mentor Fergie means when he calls the run-in “squeaky bum” time.
Only instead of battling for titles, Big Eck is sweating on Villa not being dragged into the relegation scrap.
Eight points from their last 11 league games is relegation form and their only hope appears to be that none of the bottom three sides can close the six-point gap to them.
Again McLeish fielded a makeshift side at Old Trafford because of injury and illness and five of his starting line-up were aged 22 or under.
“United had some world class players out there and we had some young players who haven’t even played half a reserve season,” said McLeish.
Although it was predictable that Villa would extend their miserable record against Manchester United to just one win from their last 31 games, they did have their moments.
Striker Andreas Weimann, one of McLeish’s rookies, fluffed an early chance and Ciaran Clark, Stephen Ireland and Emile Heskey had decent efforts.
The worrying truth for Villa, though, was that but for Shay Given’s heroics, it would have been a total drubbing.
McLeish feels they need six points to be safe and hopes the first three will come on Saturday when Martin O’Neill returns to Villa Park with Sunderland.
“We have three World Cup Finals in our next three games, it’s tantamount to that,” he said. “Two home and one away at West Brom and the players have got to show their teeth.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has some sympathy for his fellow Glaswegian.
“He’s getting stick and he doesn’t deserve that,” said Sir Alex.