The Daily Mail have reported that Gerard Houllier is to be the new man in charge at Villa Park. The 62 year old, if the papers are anything to go by, is now the hot favourite with the board and will become Villa’s first foreign manager for 20 years, Jozef Venglos was the man in charge, spending just one season at the club.
Houllier will be best known to the Villa faithful for his role in charge of Liverpool. The Frenchman spent 6 years at the club, originally alongside Roy Evans, so has plenty of experience of the league and also valuable experience of playing at Europa Cup and Champions League level. This is thought to have been a clinching factor for the Midlands club and they will be hoping, if Houllier does take charge, he can lead them back into Europe at the first time of asking.
Houllier spent a year in charge of the French national team after a 3 year spell at PSG before a 5 year break until his days at Anfield. He made some landmark signings including Hyypia and Hamman who became scouse favourites but also made some questionable transfers whilst in charge, see Djimi Traore! A couple of interesting links to Villa players include his signing of current Villa striker Emile Heskey as well as the sale of keeper Brad Friedel whilst at the club.
After he left Liverpool in 2004 he took charge at French giants Lyon between 2005-07. Whilst there he was inadvertently helping Villa improve by agreeing to swap John Carew with the frankly useless Milan Baros. Villa will be hoping those sort of deals aren’t emulated were he to join. It’s fair to say Villa could expect to see some young French hopefuls arriving at the club as Houllier looked to do whilst at Liverpool, not all of whom set the world alight. If Houllier does get the job he could be employed alongside MacDonald who knows the ins and outs of the club although maybe a reunion with the great honk of Soccer Saturday, Phil Thompson, could be on the cards.
The manager’s job may not be the role that the board are looking for Houllier to fill however. It is being touted that he could take charge in a Director of Football position with the task of developing the already considerable, young talent at the club along with recruiting new ones to help Villa push on to the next level in the future.
Martin Laurence writes at the Aston Villa Blog.