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Comment: Why Houllier is the right man for Aston Villa
Published : 09 Sep 2010 11:38:35
Without the usual fireworks, fanfare or even a great degree of optimism, the latest Premier League managerial vacancy has now been filled.
Gerard Houllier's arrival at Villa Park has failed to capture the imagination of fans and (allegedly) players alike with whispers of discontent already seeping from the ex-Liverpool contingent in the dressing room.
Houllier ready for Villa challenge / Villa appoint Houllier
But this underwhelming response, to what could turn out to be a very shrewd appointment, was probable given the stature and popularity of the departed predecessor.
Martin O’Neill, with his childlike enthusiasm and far reaching ambition, failed to live within the constraints of the Villa balloon, having had his prize assets snatched from his possession, and wielded the pin.
Left with a deflated heap, Villa owner Randy Lerner has looked to the well respected Frenchman to breathe life back into the club.
Rightly, Lerner was not tempted by the string of usual suspects to trudge into the managerial vacancy line up with Sven Goran Eriksson and Alan Curbishley sent back into the Premier League wilderness.
Nor did he let emotion creep in to what is essentially a business decision by opting to promote popular coach and caretaker manager Kevin Macdonald.
Instead the American stayed loyal to his promise of providing a replacement with Premier League experience. A football man who once declared in the wake of his much publicised heart problems: "Football is my life and my oxygen and I don't want to live without it."
Six years after his Anfield departure, Houllier's English exile is over and Villa have themselves a man who is almost exclusively cast into stories of success.
Three French League titles and a pair Champions trophies as manager of Paris St-Germain and Lyon punctuate a fruitful six years at Liverpool where the UEFA Cup, a Super Cup, an FA Cup, two League Cups and the Community Shield were amassed.
Houllier can even lay claim to a World Cup title having been part of France manager Aime Jacquet's backroom staff in 1998.
If that haul doesn’t stir the positive juices then there is also a depth of experience in the development of youth players.
As the head of technical development at the French Football Federation, Houllier oversaw the progression of the country's finest prospects.
A significant part of an already impressive CV that can only be beneficial to Villa with the likes of Marc Albrighton, Nathan Delfouneso and Fabian Delph in line to script the club's next chapter.
Not all men can rev the managerial engine in that way that Jose Mourinho does or have the ability (and backing) to enforce a revolutionary project in the way Arsene Wenger has.
And in this new age of austerity, Villa fans should be grateful to have such an experienced navigator at the wheel.