Etherington wary of Houllier effect
Matthew Etherington has told his Stoke team-mates to prepare for the Gerard Houllier factor ahead of the forthcoming game with Aston Villa. The new Villa chief returns to the Premier League football in front of the Sky Sports cameras next week after a six-year hiatus. It was supposed to be the Potters, who signed Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jermaine Pennant and Marc Wilson on transfer deadline day, who would benefit from new additions heading into Monday's clash. But after Houllier was appointed as Martin O'Neill's successor late on Wednesday evening, Etherington is cautious of the effect the 63-year-old Frenchman will have at the Britannia Stadium. He told The Sentinel: "It was always going to be a tough game, but now it will be even tougher. "They will be looking to impress him and it usually makes for a more difficult game when a new manager comes in. They will also be starting afresh, a new page if you like, now that they have a new manager." Etherington admits to being surprised that the former Liverpool manager was the number one candidate to take over the Midlands giants. "It seems like a strange one, to be honest, but he has done well previously in England. They are obviously going for some experience to carry on after Martin O'Neill." Stoke tackle Villa on Monday still seeking their first point after three successive defeats, their worst start to a season since the 1986/87 campaign. But Etherington insists: "I don't think anybody here is worried. It's not been the best of starts, but it has been tough. "Like the manager said, and I think everyone else agrees, the season starts on Monday night. "We've got home games to come now against Villa and West Ham, then a tough trip to Newcastle and then another home game against Blackburn, so we've got to be looking to kick-start our season now." Etherington has already enjoyed several days' training with Stoke's new signings and can't wait to start supplying the ammunition for a forward line packed with options. "They've managed to bring in some quality players," said City's reigning player-of-the-year, "which is good for the team, good for the club, good for the manager and good for the fans."
Related Aston Villa News