Villa Chief Executive Paul Faulkner certainly thinks so.
“He understands the ethos of our club and shares our core values. Two of the key qualities which we identified as being of crucial importance in our search for the new manager were experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad. Gerard Houllier comfortably satisfies these criteria.”
Houllier left his job as technical director at the French Football Association to take the job and after admitting it had been hard to leave went on to talk about his excitement at his new job.
“I could not turn down the opportunity to manage a club whose approach, both on and off the pitch, I have long admired. Aston Villa is one of England’s biggest clubs and has an amazing set of fans. This is a tremendous challenge and one I am very much looking forward to taking on.”
The sixty-three year old Frenchman has had a long and distinguished career and certainly brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is best known in England for his time as manager of Liverpool but has held other jobs with varying degrees of success.
In his six years at Liverpool between 1998 and 2004 he never took the club to their dream of winning the Premier League but he did guide them to two league cup triumphs, one FA Cup, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup. In 2001 he led Liverpool to a historic treble of FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.
Prior to joining Liverpool he had managed various teams in France, culminating with a French League title with PSG in 1986. He then went on to manage the French national team but failed to take them to the 1994 World Cup. He stayed on as technical director for the team after that and played a significant role in helping them win the 1998 World Cup.
After leaving Liverpool Houllier managed Lyon for two seasons where he twice won the French League but fell out with the club’s owner because he didn’t turn that domestic dominance into success in Europe. After that it was back to the French FA and his role as technical director until Aston Villa came calling for him.
There is no doubting Houllier’s ability as a coach and a manager. This has been recognised in the fact that he has been awarded the Légion d’honneur for his services to French football, and an honorary OBE for services to British football.
In terms of his man management he has had fairly public falling outs with David Ginola, Eric Cantona and Robbie Fowler. All fine players but not exactly known for their easy going and easy to manage personalities.
All in all I would say that Houllier deserves a great deal of respect as a man, a coach and a manager and that Aston Villa have got themselves a pretty good replacement for the excellent Martin O’Neill. He does face a tough job following on from O’Neill and replacing temporary manager Kevin McDonald who seemed to be very popular with the players.
Neither of those things will phase a man who has ‘been there and done that’.
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