Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier paid tribute to Liverpool old boy Emile Heskey after the striker helped him to victory in his first match in charge.
Houllier was on the bench at Villa Park for the first time on Wednesday as his new club fought back from a goal down to defeat Blackburn 3-1 in the League Cup third round.
And Houllier was delighted that Heskey — marginalised by former manager Martin O’Neill towards the end of his reign — helped inspire the comeback after coming on a substitute.
Houllier, who signed Heskey for Liverpool for 11 million pounds when he was in charge at Anfield a decade ago, said he believed Heskey had found form and confidence at the right time.
“With Emile it is a matter of confidence – like all strikers, but probably more with him,” Houllier said.
“I know what he can do but he showed a few things in training that indicated to me he was in a good form period.
“He knows I like him. The attitude of the subs is very important and they came on and brought something.
“They brought their freshness, a desire, and they were very quickly at the same level as the other members of the team.
“Emile came with that attitude and did well.”
Heskey has struggled to win over the fans since arriving at Villa Park two years but Houllier believes that could change.
“At the end of the day, maybe it is another challenge for him, to win the hearts of the fans again,” Houllier said.
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce meanwhile bemoaned the fact this team were unable to hang on for victory after taking the lead.
“The game lasts 90 minutes – not 45. That seems to be quite a problem for us at the moment, the second half,” he said. “We’ve got in front in most games we play in and can’t seem to maintain our lead.
“We can’t find the right determination to hang onto a lead. We’ve gone in front six times out of seven and only won one game.”
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