Houllier is up to speed - MacDonald
ew Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier has wasted no time in playing catch-up, despite criticism about the time taken for him to join the club. Following his appointment last week the initial belief was Houllier would be in charge for tomorrow's Premier League visit of Bolton. However, due to complications in extricating himself from his old contract with the French Football Federation, Houllier will watch the clash with the Trotters from the Villa Park stands. Instead, caretaker-manager Kevin MacDonald will take the reins one last time before handing them over to Houllier whose first game at the helm will be Wednesday's Carling Cup tie with Blackburn. MacDonald admits, though, Houllier has far from been biding his time, waiting for his first day as Villa manager to come around. "We've been in daily contact," MacDonald said. "We've actually spoken two or three times a day about a variety of things. "We talked about the defeat on Monday (at Stoke), and in particular the players because obviously he's trying to get up to speed with them very, very quickly. "I even spoke to him late last night after the reserves' victory over Manchester United, so he is aware of everything that's going on at the football club." MacDonald has revealed Houllier has already developed an immediate affinity with the club as he was as devastated as any Villa fan at the last-gasp defeat at Stoke. "We spoke about what happened, and his thoughts are not ones I'd like to divulge. It would be wrong of me to say," added MacDonald, suggesting Houllier was far from happy. "Of course he was disappointed, as we all were because we felt the nature of our performance deserved better than what we got, but in the end we didn't get anything and that was the big thing." MacDonald has confirmed, despite Houllier's presence tomorrow, he has sole authority over team selection and tactics. "At the moment, and again I spoke to him this morning, he said he would just leave me to get on with it and then he'll start after," said MacDonald. "He didn't feel it would be right to go in and speak to the players to undermine what I was trying to do, although he may say something after, I don't know. "But he has told me to get on with it, to make the decisions, which is very fair of him." MacDonald had the opportunity to become Houllier's assistant, only to reject the position, so will instead revert back to his old role as reserve team manager following tomorrow's game. After six weeks in charge following Martin O'Neill's shock exit on the eve of the season, the Scot admits the last few weeks have been "a rollercoaster". "Of course I was disappointed I didn't get the full-time job," said MacDonald. "Once you put yourself up for a job you have to accept there may be disappointment, and if I hadn't felt that then I shouldn't have put my name forward. "But there's no sense of regret. You can always hope things had gone better, and there are always things you could have done better because all that matters in the Premier League is winning matches. "So there's been some very good bits and some not-so-nice bits, but there will be no sadness tomorrow and I'm not a sentimentalist. "For me it's been an invaluable experience - but good or bad, I'm not sure. "But I've enjoyed my time. I'll now head back to the reserves and try and push some more lads forward to the first team. "I'll also re-evaluate in the long term what I want to do, but I hope I will be working at Aston Villa for the foreseeable future. I don't see anything else at the moment." MacDonald has virtually a full squad to choose from, with striker John Carew available again after missing the defeat at Stoke with a hamstring problem.
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