By Brian Doogan
Randy Lerner has acknowledged that he "could not ask for more" from Villa legend Gordon Cowans and senior player Shay Given who have been "unhesitating in answering the manager's call", stepping up to assist manager Paul Lambert ahead of Saturday's game against Southampton.
The Villa Chairman identified "loyalty, commitment and support" as key qualities at a time when "unexpected issues [and] very real obstacles" have to be overcome.
European Cup winner Cowans immediately emphasised to the players the need to give 100 percent commitment for the remainder of the season, which the Villa Chairman knows Lambert will get from Cowans and Given.
"Our manager has been faced with some unexpected issues that could have very easily set the Club back," he said.
"In watching him handle matters, along with our Chief Exec, I've seen total loyalty and commitment to Aston Villa while Gordon, a Villa man through and through, has repeatedly stepped up to support the Club regardless of the ask.
"Shay, too, has been unhesitating in answering the manager's call. I couldn't ask for more from people who are up for this challenge and the very real obstacles we have to overcome, as is everyone at the Club."
Cowans, who joined Villa as a 15-year-old apprentice and in three spells at the Club made a total of 527 appearances, assisted Lambert in training yesterday, as did former Irish international Given, alongside Scott Marshall.
Having served previously as first team coach and popularly known as 'Sid', the 55-year-old knows that the priority between now and the end of the season is simply winning games.
"When the manager asked me to step up I didn't hesitate. This is a challenge we face and we face it together as a club," he said.
"From now until the end of the season we need 100 percent commitment from everybody and I know we'll get this.
"The Club is too big, too many people are invested in this in terms of their heart and soul and we need to embrace that and not be daunted by it.
"This is a good group, a very honest group, an ambitious group. Training was terrific yesterday - the tempo, the attitude, the commitment, the energy and this is what we need to bring into the game on Saturday.
"We're very focused on this. Our priority is to go and win football games. That requires determination, passion and the right performance level but that's what we're about at this club because we have that tradition and we gain strength from that.
"The here and now is simple really. The manager is a winner, a football man through and through. He knows what he needs in order for the team to go and perform and win.
"Everybody's in this together - players, staff, fans. The fans are really important here, they always have been, so we have everything we need to go and do the job."
Given, too, has embraced the challenge having already secured his UEFA B License and UEFA A License and he has an intimate appreciation of the strength of feeling within the playing squad.
"The players are desperate to succeed here and to secure the results we need between now and the end of the season," he said.
"There's real belief, too, which has always been there.
"Any club can go through trying periods but the most important thing for me is the football club. The football club will always be here and that's why it's the most important thing, so we all know our responsibilities.
"We all know that we can get the results we're looking for also and I had no doubts in my mind whatsoever the moment the manager asked me to step up.
"I know I can help and that's my intention but the focus is very much on the collective because that's how we are as a group.
"The fans have been tremendous in backing the team and, if we perform to our maximum in the games, that support will go a long way in the game against Southampton and in our remaining games this season."