Eric Black hopes Aston Villa’s players took the first step towards repairing their relationship with the fans after their performance at Watford.
Relegated Villa were once again mocked and jeered by the travelling supporters during the early stages of their clash with Watford, but by the end they were applauded off the field despite letting a rare victory slip through their fingers as two late Troy Deeney goals gave the hosts a 3-2 win.
“It’s a fantastic football club with fantastic supporters and maybe it’s just one little step towards getting the supporters back on side,” said acting boss Black.
“The players have been criticised, and justifiably so, but not today.
“Ultimately of course you need to win games but there was a lot to be encouraged by.”
Villa were leading with just five seconds of normal time remaining thanks to goals from Ciaran Clark and Jordan Ayew, either side of Almen Abdi’s free-kick.
But the beleaguered midlanders, who had Aly Cissokho sent off for tripping Ikechi Anya with 15 minutes left, could not hold out as Deeney’s double piled on the agony.
The boyhood Birmingham fan loves scoring against Villa more than any other team and celebrated wildly after heading in a Steven Berghuis cross to equalise before lashing in a stoppage-time winner.
It meant a club-record 11th straight defeat for Villa, but Black felt they deserved more.
“It was harsh in some regards,” he added.
“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.”