Gerard Houllier was today unveiled as the new Aston Villa manager despite not being able to take charge till next week. The Frenchman will not be in charge against Stoke on Monday night but it is confirmed that he should take the reins for the Bolton game next Saturday. In a lighthearted press conference Houllier stated that it was the ambition of the club that attracted him to the role.
Houllier revealed that he rejected a number of offers as well as leaving behind his job at the FFF due to the ambition of the Premier League club.
“I had a good and safe job at the French Football Federation, but Villa’s ambition made me feel I wanted to be part of the team,” “I’m pleased, I’m proud, I’m hungry, I’m healthy and I can’t wait to come,”
Villa fans that are hoping to see a new style of football played at the club will be pleased to hear that the new boss will be administrating wholesale changes at the club, prompting exciting times ahead for the Villa faithful.
“That was the click – the chemistry, the vision, the value, the quality of the club, the fanbase – everything is here. It’s a new era, in terms of training, in terms of habits, in terms of everything.
Houllier was in good spirits and perhaps most importantly, looked healthier than ever amid claims that the strains of the Premier League may arise as an issue once more. The former Liverpool boss even joked that a priority was to get one over on his former employers which will please the Villa fans no end. The new manager went on to praise the infrastructure at the club, explaining that all the components are there to progress the club further.
“I’m here to meet anyone who says it’s not a good club, so lets try to make it better. The facilities are first class, the training ground is really good, there is a vision for the future.”
When questioned as to whether the club had Champions League ambitions this time around the Frenchman stated,
“The top four or five have taken a stride and we are below. What we need is to improve that position. To improve that position sometimes needs time. We’ll do our best to finish in the best position we can. The team will probably improve in the long run and if we are spared by injuries and also manage to get one or two players at the right time, then why not?
Reassuringly he seemed to realise that this would be a gradual process and that he just wanted to concentrate on a game by game basis. He then went on to praise the fans at the club stating that it was his intention to bring success back to Villa Park.
“We know where we want to go, we know it will take time, that’s why I was passionate about getting back into management. I had offers from other countries but here I feel it is going to be something gradual and interesting.” “It’s down now to us to work hard to bring success and joy to the fans. The fans are most important, they are passionate, vocal and fantastic.”
Houllier was quick to deny any beliefs that he has been out of the game too long in the Premier League and he believes he is ready to embark on this new adventure in the unforgiving league once again.
“I’m fully aware that the competition is harsher between 2004 and now, but this is exciting. Of course the mentality has evolved and changed, I can cope with that,”
It was confirmed at the press conference that Kevin MacDonald will not be the new man’s assistant at Villa Park and the search is ongoing for the role vacated by John Robertson. This will come as disappointing news to many Villan’s who felt that MacDonald should be given the job but it was revealed that he had turned the opportunity down.
“I am working on naming an assistant manager, Joint management doesn’t work, but in some capacity as assistant manager he would have been helpful. he could also have maybe learnt the trade and, who knows, taken over from me. But I understand his decision, he’s a nice bloke so I won’t hurt him – I told him I’d like him to stay at the club.”
It remains to be seen what role, if any, that MacDonald will take up at the club but he has the full support of the fans who are desperate for him to stay. It seems highly likely that he will go back to managing the reserves meaning that Gordon Cowans would have to step back done after recently filling in for MacDonald.
Houllier went on to establish that he fully understood his former assistant, Phil Thompson’s decision to turn down the chance of a reunion but would have liked to work with him again.
“I understand why Phil Thompson said no from a family point of view. Phil would have been fantastic because I’ve known him for quite a long time, we work well together, but he decided (not to take the job) for various reasons which I respect,”
As regards to the current squad, the new manager stated that he was happy with the players at the club and felt the quality was good. He signalled an intent to strengthen but maintained that the January window may not be the best option for the club.
“We need to improve the team gradually. I don’t think January is always a good period because you don’t get the best, but obviously we will prepare for the future. I am happy with the squad. They must have good players because they finished in a Europa League position.”
It appears that Houllier has worked on his positive patter following some harsh, if brutally honest, evaluations of the club in recent years. Well turned around Mr H! Next port of call is to get behind KMac for what should be his last game in charge and ensure we get a result at Stoke on Monday, then it’s bring on Houllier and bring on Bolton. Look out for a full match preview prior to the Stoke game for all your team news and predictions.
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