McAllister sees bright future
A 1-0 win over Liverpool, courtesy of Stewart Downing's 33rd-minute strike, lifted the club to ninth place in the Premier League - only months after it seemed they were destined for a relegation battle. And while there is a fear the club are likely to lose England international Ashley Young, who is entering the final year of his contract, McAllister said there was plenty to be optimistic about. "Three or four months ago we were at the other end of the table so praise to the players for digging themselves out of that," said McAllister, who saw the side beat Arsenal away and record a first home victory over Liverpool since 1998. "There was a bit of a rallying call and they responded. "The season finished 'not bad'. We have to be happy as, looking at the fixtures when they came out, you were looking at the two final fixtures and thinking what a tough finish it is. "But to pick up six points is nice. "There was a nice reminder last week (beating Arsenal) that they are capable and can compete against this level of team. "But players at that level have got to repeat so they have repeated (against Liverpool). "That is another reminder that they should be looking in the mirror and saying to themselves 'I play at this end of the table, not the other' because we have proved it over the last two games. "This club has got to be up at the top end of the table searching to get into Europe and making a real good go at the cup competitions. "It is geared for that." Villa will have to strengthen their squad in the summer but Young's future seems set to dominate and McAllister, while still optimistic they can persuade the 25-year-old to stay, just hopes it does not drag on like the long-running saga of James Milner's transfer to Manchester City last year which was not completed until the season had already begun. Young has been heavily linked with Manchester United and Liverpool and McAllister, who has stood in recently for manager Gerard Houllier due to the Frenchman's health concerns, admits it is difficult to compete with the lure of those clubs. "We will try to convince him (Young) by bringing in the quality of player which may one day get us to that level," he added. "But there is no way of predicting how it is going to work because I can't tell you how other clubs are going to do their business. "But [the transfer of] James Milner probably took too long. "Summer is always a busy time. Loads of preparation needs to be done and there have been lists of targets we have given to the chairman and chief executive and now is the opportunity to bring people in who we think can improve us. "But there is a downside to that in terms of casualties, players that might not be in the plans." Even if Young should depart, and there will be others, McAllister predicts better things from the likes of 20-year-old midfielder Fabian Delph, who has struggled with injury this season. "You have to realise the young lad has been out for a long time but the last month or so is the first time I have seen him free with his problem from his knee," said the assistant manager. "He will really benefit from a good pre-season this year and you will see the real Fabian Delph now. "He is a kid I have known for a while and he can play."