Concerns Over Houllierís Health
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier was admitted to a Birmingham hospital on Wednesday night after taking ill. The 63-year-old Frenchman is believed to have suffered complications related to his historic heart problems – he had open heart surgery in 2001 while he was Liverpool manager.
The club were expected to make a statement today (Thursday). Houllier’s condition is not thought life-threatening but he seems likely to miss Villa’s EPL run-in.
Villa reached the dizzy heights of the top half of the EPL table last weekend, with Houllier admitted that the victory at fellow-strugglers West Ham was “decisive.” He told the BBC’s Match of the Day programme: “It was vital. We didn’t want to shout it too loud but we knew it was a decisive game for us.”
Villa had only picked up six points from a possible 21 before picking up another six points from the 1-0 win at home to Newcastle and the 2-1 success at Upton Park, the latter thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor’s stoppage-time winner.
But Houllier denied that Villa were safe. Having clearly given the situation some thought he added: “West Ham (were relegated) some years ago with 42. So I think 42, or maybe 43 should be enough.”
A more confident Houllier said after the previous week’s win over Newcastle, courtesy of James Collins’ header: “We want to keep going. Why not stay unbeaten to the end of the season?”
Villa will need the continuing commitment of England international winger Ashley Young, who this week re-iterated that commitment ahead of his long-awaited contract talks in the summer.
Young, reportedly a Liverpool and Manchester United target, told the Birmingham Mail newspaper: “I’ve always said that I’m going to speak to the manager and the chairman in the summer. I’m fully committed to the club and you can see that by the performance I put in at West Ham.”
The Villa future of midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker has also been the subject of media reports, with Turkish club Galatasary and Italian high-flyers Napoli reportedly watching the out-of-contract 26-year-old at West Ham last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Villa are interested in 28-year-old Rennes captain Kader Mangane, although they face competition from Liverpool for the Senegalese international central defender’s signature.
And they are monitoring Lyon’s Swedish international midfielder Kim Kallstrom, having signed former colleague Jean Makoun for £6m in January.
Villa host FA Cup finalists Stoke City in the EPL this Saturday at 3pm.
Tags: Aston Villa, Gerard Houllier, EPL, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nigel Reo-Coker