Comment: Can Houllier work his League Cup magic again?

22 September 2010 10:46
Six years after his departure from Liverpool, Gerard Houllier makes his return to English football with Aston Villa, in a competition which is a notorious happy-hunting ground for him.

Houllier won the competition twice during his tenure on Merseyside, in 2001 and 2003, and he will be hoping that his debut as Villa boss will yield similar success for his new side as they take on last season's semi final opponents, Blackburn Rovers.

- VIDEO: Houllier on Blackburn Rovers / Houllier yet to sign Villa contract

There will certainly be no lack of incentive for the home players as they go into the game trying to emulate last season's success in the competition, where they were eventually beaten 2-1 by Manchester United in the final.

It is somewhat ironic that a new era in the club's history begins where some was created just one year ago.

The two sides played out a thrilling two-legged affair, which after a 1-0 victory for the visitors at Ewood Park, ended with an entertaining 6-4 win at Villa Park as they sealed their place in the Wembley showpiece with a comfortable 7-4 aggregate success.

Current players including Brad Friedel and Stephen Ireland have backed Houllier's appointment, with both confident that the Frenchman will get the side playing to their potential and 'instill a positive mentality' within the squad.

One thing that fans will be hoping for is a more astute approach in the transfer market.

During his time with Liverpool, his attempts to bring in the best talent France could offer including the likes of El Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao and Bruno Cheyrou (players he was familiar with through his role as the Head of French Football Development) failed significantly to the fill the gaps left by influential players that came before.

He may not have to search far and wide in this case though as he seemingly has a exciting pool of young talent to choose from already, with players such as Irish defender Ciaran Clark, skilful winger Marc Albrighton and striker Andreas Weimann all hoping to cement their first-team status.

Financially he won't have anywhere near the same kind of resources as he did at Liverpool, a factor which may stifle attempts to bring in players like Michael Owen, but they do say that familiarity breeds contempt.

Under the stewardship of their new-look management team, including a former player of Houllier's, Gary McAllister, an opening win will fight off any scepticism still lingering in the Birmingham air about the appointment.

Daniel Jolly

Source: DSG