Thursday media watch [04.02.16]
The Sun: Jordan Ayew has apologised after the Aston Villa striker was sent off at West Ham on Tuesday. Ayew was shown the red card after just 17 minutes for elbowing Aaron Cresswell. Villa tried to hang on with ten men but Rémi Garde's rock-bottom side lost 2-0 as their nightmare season went from bad to worse. Ayew - now banned for three games - took to Instagram to apologise for his dismissal.
The Times: Jordan Ayew has apologised for his red card during Aston Villa's 2-0 defeat to West Ham United on Tuesday night. The striker was dismissed for elbowing Aaron Cresswell as his struggling side remained bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
Daily Express: Jordan Ayew has apologised to Aston Villa and their fans for his red-card madness at West Ham. The striker was sent-off after just 17 minutes of the 2-0 defeat and now faces three matches on the sidelines. That is the last thing beleaguered manager Rémi Garde needs with Villa stranded at the bottom and 10 points adrift of the safety mark.
Birmingham Mail: Gabby Agbonlahor is likely to be the only available striker for Aston Villa this weekend when they entertain Norwich. Top goalscorer Jordan Ayew is now suspended for three games following his inexcusable sending off at West Ham on Tuesday night and both Libor Kozak and Rudy Gestede are unlikely to shake off injuries. With Callum Robinson out on loan and both young forwards Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Harry McKirdy also injured, rookie Jerell Sellars could get a surprise call-up.
Birmingham Mail: Micah Richards has once again reassured Aston Villa's suffering fans by insisting the team cares deeply about the club's plight. The skipper reckons the performance at West Ham showed they are giving everything to drag the club away from trouble even if the quality is not always there.
Daily Star: Aston Villa skipper Micah Richards has told the snipers his men will scrap until they drop. And he's hoping the drop in question isn't the dreaded plunge into the Championship. The bookies and thousands of fed-up fans have already dismissed Villa's run-in as a pointless exercise. But the former Manchester City star says his men have the spirit to launch one desperate last push to clamber to safety.
Birmingham Mail Online: Aston Villa are looking at back-up plans in case boss Rémi Garde decides to quit the club, according to our sister title The Daily Mirror. The Frenchman repeatedly rejected opportunities to publicly commit his future to the club after Tuesday night's defeat at West Ham. Garde said: "It's not the time to answer this question." Garde is unhappy that the club failed to land a single player during the transfer window to help his fight against relegation.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Gary Neville says watching his Valencia side get demolished 7-0 by Barcelona at the Nou Camp was one of his "worst experiences" in football. Wednesday's loss in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg has increased the pressure on Neville, who is without a league win in eight matches. "I am not going to sleep well tonight," said the former England player, who insisted he would not quit as manager.
Sky Sports: Steve McClaren was left angry, frustrated and disappointed after his Newcastle United side produced an "unacceptable" display in Wednesday's 3-0 defeat at Everton. The Magpies struggled to assert themselves at Goodison Park as the Merseysiders claimed a first home Premier League win since November. Aaron Lennon broke the deadlock midway through the first half before two penalties from Ross Barkley - making his 100th Premier League appearance - wrapped up the points for Roberto Martinez's side.
BBC Sport: Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is not to blame for the team's recent troubles, says winger Jesse Lingard. Lingard scored 14 minutes into Tuesday's 3-0 league win over Stoke to end United's run of 11 home matches without scoring a first-half goal. United remain five points adrift of the top four, but the margin of victory gave Van Gaal respite from criticism of his team's dour displays this season.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.