The news that Villa fans have been eagerly anticipating has finally been confirmed. The reign of Gerard Houllier will officially begin on Monday morning. Negotiations with the French Football Federation have led to an agreement that the Frenchman can leave his post as technical director and he will be free to take up his post in time for the Carling Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers next Wednesday.
Currently seventh in the table, the hope and expectation of the Villa faithful this season will be that they can continue their run of successive 6th place finishes for a fourth year. Online betting sources are quoting Villa at 13/5 to achieve that.
Before handing over the managerial reins to Houllier on Monday, caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald’s last game in charge will be the match against Bolton on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if he brings Villa’s only summer signing, Stephen Ireland, back into the side as he appears to be back to full fitness following the hamstring injury he sustained against last month.
Of course the issue of signings and transfers is one that will play a key part in the success or otherwise of Houlliers tenure at Villa. Given the chain of events leading to Martin O’Neill leaving, it seems certain that Randy Lerner is not going to make a lot of money available for use in the transfer market so it will be up to Houllier to make some very astute and canny moves in the transfer market. It looks like he has already set his sights on bringing Michael Owen to Villa Park and if he succeeds that would be a great start.
No one can dispute that Martin O’Neil was going to be a difficult act to follow at Villa Park and the Claret and Blues seem to have coped pretty well with the transition since he left the club just 5 days before the start of the Premier League campaign. Credit should be given to Kevin MacDonald for the way he stepped in and helped the club out in their hour of need. He deserves recognition for his services. Many will be hoping he can end his reign on a winning note and football betting web-sites are quoting odds of 4/5 on Villa beating Bolton at the weekend.