Villa caretaker looking up
The Midlands club beat Liverpool 1-0 on the final day of the season to gatecrash their way into the top half of the table, a situation that seemed unlikely just two months ago. Villa looked set for a battle against relegation as winter turned to spring, but a good run of results has seen them achieve a more respectable position. McAllister, who has an impressive record since taking over from the unwell Gerard Houllier in April, concedes that, while the season has been a struggle, a few differences over the campaign could have seen them challenge for Europe. "You look at the points, we're not a million miles away from the Europa League spot that this club has got to be targeting," McAllister said. "But the facts are three or four months ago, people were looking at Villa as a candidate for going the other way because of not being accustomed to being in that part of the league. "I've got a lot of praise for the players. They dug themselves out of there and we finished very strongly and on quite a high. To beat Arsenal and Liverpool in the last two games is not bad." McAllister also praised goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who made an outstanding save in the game, but is still unsure over his future despite being an ever present in the league for the past three seasons. "It was a wonder save, it's been a smashing week for the goalkeeper, now he's 40 and had a little baby, but he's been a big help for us this year," he said. "There's been bits and bobs this season going on at the training ground. And we've needed our senior pros and he's been a big help. "He's playing against one of his old teams today and you look back and wonder whether he's had a big enough chance at Anfield, people would say maybe not. "But since he's left Liverpool he's been outstanding. He's managed to get that consistency you need from a top-class goalkeeper." The Scot also reaffirmed his statement that Houllier will return to the dugout this summer, and was in good spirits following the victory. "Absolutely, it goes without saying. I've said it 100 times, Gerard's declared himself fit and that's the way it is," he added. "I've just spoken to him and he's delighted with the result and he's just wished the players all the best for the summer."