Gerard's warm welcome for old faces
Gerard Houllier insists he has no problems working with the players he has managed previously who are now key figures at Aston Villa. Defender Stephen Warnock and keeper Brad Friedel were with Houllier at Liverpool and striker John Carew at Lyon. Warnock and Friedel did not receive many opportunities at Anfield while Carew was allowed to leave Lyon and join Villa by Houllier in a swap deal with Milan Baros. Houllier said: "Everybody thinks that when a player leaves a club, it means they are unhappy. "At Jamie Carragher's testimonial last weekend, I came across a few players that had left during my time there at Liverpool. "There was not a problem and there will be no problem with the people here. We can work together. "Stephen Warnock was too young (at Liverpool). I read something about that but he was too young. "Brad, I got on very well with. Don't forget Brad had to leave. Brad came with Roy Evans and had to leave at the end of the season because unfortunately we couldn't renew his work permit. "That is why I think he went to Turkey and then came back to England. He is a good goalkeeper, very good. "I'm not surprised at how well he's done because he was a good goalkeeper. and that comes with experience. "As for John Carew, he is an outstanding talent. He is extremely skilful. He can win you a game in an instant. I like the man. It is not a problem." Houllier was due to meet the Villa players today before flying back home to tie up the loose ends with the French Football Federation after quitting as their technical director to take over at Villa. He will not be in charge of Monday's game at Stoke or next Saturday's home match with Bolton - although he hopes to attend. Houllier is hoping to be at the helm for the Carling Cup game with Blackburn on Wednesday week although he will be assisted by caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald. He said: "I have to go back. I have a very important meeting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. "Even if I wanted to take a private jet out (to the Stoke game), it wouldn't be possible. "I apologise for that but I will be watching the game on television. "If all goes to plan, the Carling Cup match with be the first game I pick the team for. "But I will do that with Kevin obviously. I think Kevin will stay alongside me (for that game)." MacDonald has already indicated he does not want to be part of Houllier's first team coaching set-up and will instead return to his role as reserve team manager. The former Liverpool midfielder will check on the fitness of Stephen Ireland (hamstring) before finalising the side to face Stoke.
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