Drunk Dunne 'blasted Villa legend Cowans'
Published 23:00 14/03/11 By James Nursey - EXCLUSIVE
Richard Dunne faces a backlash from Aston Villa fans after it emerged the main victim of his drunken outburst was club legend Gordon Cowans.
Dunne and defensive pal James Collins are in the midst of formal disciplinary proceedings at Villa after a rowdy, alcohol-fuelled bender on a club trip.
The pair have been ordered to attend meetings with Villa’s HR officials and internal lawyer to explain their actions on a bonding trip to Champneys spa in Leicestershire.
Team-mate Fabian Delph may even be forced to give evidence against them after he intervened to cool a heated exchange between the duo and Villa staff.
A dividing partition with a trestle on top was knocked over in the private restaurant area and damaged in the incident.
Champneys manager Paul Fenech confirmed to Mirrorsport yesterday that the screen has been sent for repair.
Dunne and Collins hit the booze hard while boss Gerard Houllier and No.2 Gary McAllister absent at Spurs versus AC Milan last Wednesday.
Irish international Dunne then let Villa coach Cowans know what he thought as he delivered a damning assessment of Houllier’s troubled reign.
Villa favourite Cowans made over 400 appearances for the club in three spells between 1976-1994, during which he helped the club win the title and the European Cup .
Cowans has been barred from discussing the incident as he has to give a statement to Villa lawyers.
Dunne and Collins have publicly apologised but the club are pushing for a massive four-to-six-week fine of Dunne’s £53,000-a-week wages.
That contradicts PFA rules, which state players can only be fined two weeks’ salary, so the players’ union are set to get involved in talks too.
Collins is in the dock for being close-pal Dunne’s drinking partner, but it's the Irish stopper is in the deepest trouble.
This was his second bust-up at the club this season after rowing with McAllister during training in December when he was subsequently dropped.
The latest controversy could hardly be worse timed, with Villa just two points off the Premier League relegation zone.
They face a massive derby at home to fellow strugglers Wolves this weekend and have an injury crisis in the centre of defence.
Dunne is out with a dislocated shoulder while Welsh international Collins,27, is struggling to be fit after being sidelined with a calf injury.
Promising rookie defender Ciaran Clark is suspended for two games after receiving his 10th yellow card of the season in the 3-2 loss at Bolton last week.
Luke Young, who fitted in at centre-back at Bolton, has also injured his calf and is struggling.
So Carlos Cuellar, Kyle Walker and Nathan Baker are likely to be the only recognised defenders available to Houllier.
The Frenchman has not picked full-backs Stephen Warnock and Habib Beye for months after clashing with them.
Houllier also bombed out John Carew and Stephen Ireland on loan after bust-ups with them too.
It compounds Houllier’s woes after he upset fans by fielding a weakened team in the recent FA Cup exit at Manchester City.
But Villa still claim their bonding trip did more good than harm, and Champneys boss Fenech insisted: “Aston Villa had a great stay with us.”
COWANS & DUNNE: WHAT THEY HAVE MEANT TO VILLA
* Joined Villa as a 15-year-old in 1974 and was part of the team that won the FA Youth Cup.
* Debuted in the first team against Manchester City at 17 while still an apprentice.
* Helped Villa win the 1976-77 League Cup, beating Everton in the final.
* In the first of his three spells with the club, he also won the First Division and the European Cup.
* Played 168 consecutive matches between 1979 and 1983.
* Joined Italian side Bari but rejoined Villa in 1988.
* After a spell at Blackburn, he returned for the final time in 1993 and took his total appearances to 527 before moving to Derby.
*Now working for the club again as an academy coach.
* Er, 74 appearances, three goals and 12 yellow cards in 18 months since Villa rescued him from being pushed out at Manchester City.