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Aston Villa victims of 'toxic mix', Eric Black says

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Aston Villa's caretaker manager Eric Black explains how bad the mood is at the club and admits his wife was right to warn him against taking the position

Aston Villa's acting boss Eric Black says years of upheaval have created a "toxic mix" at the club.

Relegation was confirmed on Black's watch earlier this month, but the damage was done earlier in a season littered with disciplinary problems, boardroom changes, supporter unrest and poor results.

Eric Black sympathises with Villa fans
Eric Black sympathises with Villa fans

Caretaker boss understands fans' frustration.

Neither Tim Sherwood nor successor Remi Garde could do anything to halt Villa's slide towards the Championship, and owner Randy Lerner last week issued a statement to say "relegation lies at my feet and no one else's".

Lerner's attempts to sell Villa have so far come to nothing, while five permanent managers have been employed since Martin O'Neill left on the eve of the 2010/11 season.

Eric Black
Image: Black agreed to take charge of Villa following Remi Garde's departure

Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Watford, Black joked he should have turned down the offer to take charge following Garde's departure at the end of March.

The Scot then addressed the problems Villa have faced, saying: "Obviously I knew the job was going to be difficult. I didn't know the timescale of it, whether it was one week, six weeks, seven weeks, I had no idea.

"There have obviously been other elements that have happened since then to make it, certainly for me...I can't remember other jobs like this in terms of the negativity surrounding the club for so long. 

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"They are elements that have influenced the players, so it's not been straightforward but it's been interesting. Over the last four years, it has not been straightforward for Aston Villa.

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Following Aston Villa's 4-2 defeat at home to Southampton, Black said his players must remain professional

"Coaches that have been here have worked tirelessly to try and keep them in the Premier League and they've done that. I think we are just seeing a culmination of the influences.

"There's no manager in place, the club is potentially up for sale, there's people losing their jobs, there's a negative environment on the training pitch.

"They are losing their incomes, probably 50 per cent, I can possibly sympathise with that, but that's the job. They are possibly losing the kudos of playing in the Premier League to now in the Championship, one or two of them will probably want to leave. A real toxic mix of a lot of things."

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