Hello To Houllier… In A Bit
Aston Villa’s search for a new manager ended two weeks ago with the announcement of former Liverpool supremo Gerard Houllier’s impending arrival at Villa Park.
The 63-year-old Frenchman will formally take possession of the Villa Park hotseat after Villa host Bolton this Saturday in the EPL, having finally severed his ties with the French Football Federation (FFF), the process which caused the delay in his arrival in Birmingham.
His first match in charge will be next Wednesday’s Carling Cup hosting of Blackburn Rovers.
Meanwhile, caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald’s latest match in charge saw Villa controversially beaten with almost the last kick of their Monday night EPL visit to Stoke City.
Villa led at the Britannia Stadium thanks to Stuart Downing’s clever 35th-minute header, until Kenwyne Jones headed the Potters’ level on 80 minutes
But the controversy raged over the hosts’ stoppage-time winner. Villa’s Stilian Petrov was adjudged to have fouled Stoke substitute Jermaine Pennant, although replays clearly showed no contact.
And to compound the felony in Villa’s eyes, Pennant then took the free-kick significantly closer to goal than where the non-foul occurred.
And after Villa only half-cleared the initial danger, Stoke’s Robert Huth was on hand to poke the ball home from close range.
Houllier takes over a side which would have gone third in the EPL with victory at the Britannia.
The Frenchman signed a three-year deal with the Villa Park outfit, after finally negotiating his way out of his role as FFF technical director.
And he has already encountered problems trying to fill the role of assistant manager, having been reportedly turned down by former Liverpool sidekick Phil Thompson and ex-Liverpool player Dieter Hammam – the German international who played under Houllier at Anfield and is currently player-coach at Milton Keynes “Dons”.
MacDonald also reportedly turned down the opportunity, although he will take charge for the Bolton game, and has said he will undertake any other role at the club asked of him by Houllier.
MacDonald, who has resumed as Villa’s reserve team coach, said: “If I am asked to do something by the Villa manager that is what I will do.”
Houllier said he was disappointed MacDonald did not wish to be his assistant, adding: “In some capacity as assistant manager he would have been helpful.
“But I understand his decision. And I’ve told him I’d like him to stay at the club.”
Houllier also said at his launch that Villa’s “ambition,” apparently under question in connection with predecessor Martin O’Neill’s August departure, was what attracted him to the midlands outfit. He said:
“I had a good and safe job but Villa’s ambition made me feel I wanted to be part of the team.
He added: “The facilities are first-class, the training ground is really good, there is a vision for the future.” And his own vision and ambition includes getting one over on his former employers. He recalled: “Every time I came here (with Liverpool), we drew or won.
“I want to put that right.”
Tags: Aston Villa, Gerard Houllier, EPL, Carling Cup, Stilian Petrov