It’s official, and the news that everyone has expected for days now is that Gerard Houllier has joined Aston Villa as manager. Houllier makes his return to English football after 6 years and will take charge of Villa’s next game against Stoke City on Monday night. After rumours of a Director of Football position being created, Houllier has opted to go back into management in a more traditional role.
In his past the 63 year old has an impressive club record that should not be forgotten despite leaving Liverpool in far from perfect terms. He guided the club to a memorable treble winning season picking up the 2 domestic cups alongside the then UEFA Cup. During this season Liverpool finished 3rd in the Premier League and pushed on to 2nd in the following campaign. The turning point of his Liverpool career is said to be due to health issues in 2001 when he had to take a 5 month lay off and many of the fans and pundits alike questioned his signings in the seasons that followed. A diminishing record then lead to his departure from the Anfield club in 2004.
Houllier went on to manage French giants Lyon and won Ligue 1 two seasons running but left amid speculation of a rift with the chairman. Failure to succeed in the Champions League was thought to be the issue and Houllier returned to the French national setup as technical Director of Football.
After meeting with FFF president Roberto Duchaussoy Houllier has left his post and joins the Midland’s club as manager for the upcoming campaign. The Aston Villa board are delighted with the acquisition of their top target and feel that his experience in all aspects of the game will progress them to the next level. Houllier worked as Director of Football for France as they won the 1998 World Cup and has also managed the national team during his long and illustrious career.
The board clearly had Houllier in mind when releasing their statement on the criteria they sought after in a new manager. Aston Villa chief executive states that the Frenchman fits the bill perfectly for the intentions that the club set out last week.
“Two of the key qualities which we identified as being of crucial importance in our search for the new manager were experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad, and Gerard Houllier comfortably satisfies these criteria. In fact, he stands out as a football man who understands the ethos of our Club and shares our core values. We look forward to working with Gerard and supporting him and we ask our supporters to get behind the new manager and the team as we look to build on the progress we have made over the past four years in all areas of the Club.”
Houllier has also expressed his delight at being named as the new boss at Villa Park.
“I am very happy and proud to join this great and historic club. It was a very difficult decision for me to leave the FFF but I could not turn down the opportunity to manage a club whose approach, both on and off the pitch, I have long admired. Aston Villa is one of England’s biggest clubs and has an amazing set of fans. This is a tremendous challenge and one I am very much looking forward to taking on.”
It is yet to be known in what capacity Kevin MacDonald will remain at the club as every Villa fan hopes that he will but it is believed that Houllier is on the lookout for a right hand man. MacDonald will undoubtedly be a leading candidate with the likes of Steve Staunton and Gareth Southgate also being touted following Phil Thompson’s dismissal of the role. More news on the appointment will follow tomorrow after a pending press conference so make sure you checked back in for news and opinions on the new manager! It is now down to us as Villan’s to get behind the new manager and most importantly the team to ensure a successful and exciting 2010-11!
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