Any fears Stoke may have had of an instant managerial impact at the club have been quashed as news broke today that Houllier’s contract is not yet finalised. This will mean that the Frenchman will not take charge until after the Stoke game, leaving the side in the capable hands of Kevin MacDonald for what would seem to be, one last time.
The 63 year old still needs to finalise his departure from the FFF before he can take the reins at the Midlands club. The press conference scheduled for 2pm today will still go ahead as planned but the news comes as a blow to fans hoping to see how Houllier dealt with the tricky Monday night fixture. It is understood that the contract at Villa is sorted with Houllier agreeing a 3 year deal with the club but this cannot come into place until all ties are cut with his former employers.
It has been assured that the matter will be completed before next Saturday’s home tie with Bolton which will hand the new boss a baptism of fire at Villa Park in a game that may bring more pressure. An away match with Stoke is one that shouldn’t be scoffed at and although it is a winnable game, coming away with a point from the Britannia Stadium is something that most teams in the league would settle for. This will not be the case in a home tie against Bolton which the fans will no doubt see as a must win opening game for the Frenchman.
As well as the press conference in the offing Houllier will be meeting with Kevin MacDonald today prior to the Scotsman taking charge of his 6th first team outing. It is believed that Houllier is keen to hire a right hand man from outside the club, where as the board see MacDonald as the ideal foil for the new manager.
Houllier has also had more to say about his new employers, explaining why this was the job for him but may have chosen his words more carefully one would imagine as he didn’t exactly have great things to say about the team in recent years.
“It was really starting to tickle me. I wanted to go back pitchside. I had, of course, other proposals but this one seemed to be the most interesting in terms of working conditions and environment.”
“Aston Villa is not a club on the same level as Liverpool, let’s be objective and honest. It’s a club that according to me has belonged between seventh and 12th place in the Premier League. But, above all, it’s a historic club which has won the European Cup. It’s a club which has got good infrastructure and a fine team which is after one thing – to improve year on year.”
I would advise Houllier to be show ambition than his 7th – 12th statement and remind him that the Villa fans expect a lot from him so he may need to set his sights a little higher to get on board with the Villa faithful. Maybe the Frenchman hasn’t seen much of the Premeir League in the last three seasons but he should be aware that the Villan’s will need to be pushing to finish above his former employers once more this year.
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