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Confirmed: Houllier is the new Villa manager

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Great Appointment, I too cannot understand all the negativity

If he keeps the core of mainly British players and adds some young french talent there could be exciting times ahead

Off the pitch he'll transform the coaching and scouting setup so Villa are on a par with the sky 4 and other top clubs around europe

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Well this season is going to be an interesting one to say the least. Good luck Gerard. You are going to need it !

I think those fans who are fed up with our foreign scouting setup are going to be pleased at least.

I'm not expecting any miracles this season as he will need to mould his own team with his own players and that won't be happening until next July unfortunately. Let's just hope the guy can make the most of our fairly talented squad and maybe surprise a few people.

Mange tout Gerard, mange tout.

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Gérard Houllier has fight to win over Aston Villa's deflated fans

Stuart James

Today, 9:53 PM

Club ask supporters to get behind the former Liverpool manager as successor to Martin O'Neill

The search has lasted 30 days but Aston Villa have finally got their man. The Villa Park board should be feeling relief and satisfaction after identifying a successor to Martin O'Neill, yet one of the club's non-executive directors has been busy posting messages on supporters' websites defending the decision to bring in Gérard Houllier and warning fans that derogatory remarks might scare the Frenchman off before he has said bonjour.

It is a strange backdrop to the arrival of a new manager, whose appointment was officially confirmed tonight, and one that contrasts sharply with the open-arms welcome O'Neill was given after he took over four years ago, when he was hailed as Villa's saviour. General Charles C Krulak, right-hand man of the chairman Randy Lerner, had not joined Villa at that point, though had he been in post it is safe to assume he would not have been fighting fires over O'Neill's recruitment as he has with Houllier.

Although it is difficult to gauge the overriding mood of Villa fans about the former Liverpool manager – message boards generally carry negative rather than positive comments – there does seem to be some apprehension about the Frenchman. It is almost as if the more sceptical Villa fans want to run a highlighter pen over the end of his six-year-reign at Anfield, when things started to unravel, and overlook everything else on his CV.

That seemed to be the point that Krulak, who has earned notoriety for his candid messages, was trying to make when he turned on the more critical Villa supporters.

"Take Mr H for example," Krulak wrote. "Whatever anyone thinks of him, he deserves respect from the fans of this club. He has a fine record with multiple clubs and deserves better for the amount of effort he has put into his chosen career than to be ridiculed by AVFC."

Houllier is unlikely to lose any sleep over the criticism, despite Krulak's concerns that "any manager worth their salt is going to do some due diligence on the club and that would probably include reading up on the fans and the type of support they might receive". The reality is that Houllier will have far more important things on his mind as he gets to grips with being a manager again for the first time since 2007 and returning to the Premier League after a six-year absence.

On the face of it, both timescales present potential problems, but those close to Houllier are confident he will readapt to frontline management in England with the minimum of fuss. "Football is his life," said Rick Parry, the former Liverpool chief executive. "The fact he's wanting to get back into the hurly-burly of football at this stage, when he could easily put his feet up, sums him up. I have the utmost respect for him and he will bring a wealth of knowledge with him to Villa."

There is a sense that Houllier still remains upset at how Liverpool treated him at the end. He recently claimed that when Rafael Benítez, his successor, left Anfield last summer, one of the Liverpool players sent him a text that said: "Boss, he hasn't beaten you." The problem for Houllier, however, is that he seems to be remembered more for the poor signings that tarnished the end of his reign than the three trophies he collected along the way.

With Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock and Emile Heskey all having played under him at Liverpool, the Villa squad will be well briefed as to what to expect. The 63-year-old is set to bring in Patrice Bergues, who worked alongside him at Anfield until 2001, as his assistant, although it remains to be seen whether there will be a role for Kevin MacDonald, who took over on a caretaker basis when O'Neill resigned. It could be a wise move to keep MacDonald given the respect he commands from the players.

Getting off to a good start at Stoke on Monday would be another step in terms of winning over the doubters, many of whom seem to have ignored the unenviable position O'Neill placed Villa in when he quit five days before the season started. It is easy to pick faults in the appointment of Houllier, but much more difficult to come up with a better choice of manager from a limited field.

"There will always be some people against a manager because he is not the one they wanted, but I think the majority will give Gérard a go," said Dave Woodhall, the editor of the Heroes and Villains fanzine and a supporters' trust board member. "The people I have spoken to accept it was an horrendous time to be dropped in it, and that Houllier is the best available at the moment. I'm sure he'll get the reception an Aston Villa manager deserves."


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Really chuffed with the appointment. We now have a manager with the clout to attract foreign players. He is someone with extensive contacts in European and probably world football too. He has a track record of developing young players. Best of all he has achieved at the highest level. I don't think we could have asked for more. I would note that addresses pretty much all the usual criticisms of MON.

Lets not forget we have the makings of a very good side. What we have lacked is a couple of really classy players which if signed now I suspect we be quality foreign imports. The core of the squad will probably remain British which is good and I suspect some of the good young players we have coming through our ranks will actually get a chance something MON often promised but rarely delivered.

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2 year contract right?

I wouldn't mind that being explained. Sure, Gerard is an old man, but to me, that doesn't make sense and it strikes me that this is a bit of an interim appointment.

I remain sceptical about this appointment. On one hand I think of his past success, and think that we've not actually had such a decorated manager for a while (...?). However, I also think of the absolute dross his signed for Liverpool towards the end of his tenure there and the Carew/Baros swap, where he was well and truly merked by our old mate Martin O'Neill.

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