There was not a paper-clip to be seen as Aston Villa's new manager rediscovered that football at the sharp end can be, well, sharp.
For an hour the Frenchman must have wondered whether his first match was heading for the dustbin in the corner, before he found a familiar solution right next to him.
First game: New boss Houllier and his assistant McAllister
Emile Heskey might not have been the first name on the lips of Villa fans but, as far as Houllier is concerned, the striker is le business.
As Liverpool manager, he once paid Leicester £11million for a raw-boned, 22-year-old Heskey and has always been a big fan.
The gratitude quotient will have edged a few notches upwards after this Carling Cup rescue act. Villa, finalists last year, were heading out of the competition with an insipidshowing against the team who they beat at the semi-final stage.
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Gael Givet's beautiful strike from the edge of the area had given Rovers a first-half lead and it could have been worse but for Brad Guzan's fingertips keeping out an effort from Morten Gamst Pedersen.
The smallest Villa crowd since pre-Martin O'Neill were growing increasingly quiet and there were murmurings of discontent. By the final whistle they were demanding a wave, and Houllier looked delighted to oblige.
But he was equally delighted to handthe plaudits to Heskey, who scored an equaliser and was involved in both of Ashley Young's goals.
'He showed in training that he was ongood form,' said Houllier.
'It was a decisive goal. With Emile it is a matter of confidence. He knows I like him.
Level terms: Emile Heskey smashes home Villa's second half equaliser
'He came with the right attitude and he was at the end of a quick move forward.
'Maybe it's another challenge for himto win the hearts of the fans. The fans were good to him.
'He was involved in the second goal and he made the cross. But it's not about Emile. The team played well and I was not down at half-time.'
Neither was Rovers manager Sam Allardyce, but he was talking through gritted teeth afterwards, disappointed with his team's failure to hang on to their advantage.
Net gains: Ashley Young wheels away after scoring his second to complete the 3-1 win for the hosts
'A game lasts 90 minutes, not 45,' was Allardyce's curt verdict. 'It seems to be a problem for us, the second half. We can't maintain our lead, we haven't got the determination. We are doing well and then just capitulate.
'You have to question the lads' attitude. There was a change of shape and Heskey came on and we didn't cope with it. That was the difference.
'I was very disappointed with the second half.'
The Heskey show started within a minute of his 57th-minute arrival. His powerful, direct run and shot wasnot something he has shown often at Villa.
Winning start: Young celebrates after his brace ensured Gerard Houllkier a successful start to his tenure as Villa boss
Having scored the equaliser, he then chested the ball to Nathan Delfouneso, who crossed for Young to put Villa into the lead after 75 minutes. Young, who also grew in stature, then swept in goal number three from a cleverly weighted Heskey pass.
Houllier took a risk by changing his team and it paid off.
'Life's a risk, isn't it?' he asked, knowing that his gamble had worked thanks to Heskey.
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