Today reports suggest that Houllier is expected to leave Aston Villa tomorrow.
Mat Kendrick, who often breaks the big Villa stories, suggests that the independent health checks indicate it would be a risk for him to return to the role of Villa manager.
The Mail however are suggesting that Villa are waiting for the results of the 4th and final test after passing the first three. It also seems to imply the Lerner wants to get a new man in irrespective of the result, but the termination of Houlliers 3 year contract would cost the American £5m if the final examination comes back clean.
So does that means an inevitable stop on all transfer targets until a new manager comes in, or will Houllier be kept on in an advisory/scouting capacity? I wouldn’t bet against it given that Lerner and Houllier are thought to have a strong relationship and the decision of Lerner to find a new manager is purely a football decision and no slant on Houllier, it is simply protecting the best interests of Aston Villa FC.
What does seem to be certain, though, is the continued exodus from the squad, with 10 players released last week and news the Heskey is to leave for £500k, whilst Friedel has (and who can blame him considering his financial plight) chosen to join Spurs with a pay rise and the certainty of a 2 year contract.
Young is another we can pretty much say is gone, we have apparently told United we want £16m or £18m depending on which report you read. Downing though is a situation I think we can turn around.
If we can get a highly rated manager in then Downing may decide to commit to a 2 or 3 year extension (with the mandatory payrise).
Sadly no news of Dunne or Ireland leaving the club as yet… Mind you if Mark Hughes ends up joining maybe they’ll end up staying, boy will they have to perform to win the fans over… again. However with Dunne’s age I doubt he will be in any new managers plans.
Now I have read some rather interesting things about Everton and Moyes in the last couple of days
which may just play in to Randy’s hands if we are on the look out. Kenwright has told Moyes that if he wants to buy he must sell. Moyes wasn’t too happy about this and released a statement saying
“that under current budget restraints, supporters should not expect the club to finish any higher than the seventh place they achieved this season”
Doesn’t sound overly happy… so if Lerner offered him a decent wage, and a large transfer kitty… maybe.
Or there’s a link to Ancelotti, Houlliers “good friend” in football could they work together, a Dream Team?
We could move for a young up and coming coach though, who believes in the same principles in football, step forward Roberto Martinez. Could he and Houllier form a working relationship? They both share the same ideals in football, how it should be played and where the onus of “motivation” should lie.
However as I type Sky Sports News are reporting that Aston Villa FC have moved to dismiss all reports suggesting Houllier is set to leave the club. So they've not directly said Houllier will remain manager, they have stated that the “reports or premature” and “no decision has been made yet”.
So where do we go?
There is no doubt that Lerner’s intelligence and capacity to make a decision is far more important to Aston Villa this week than his money ever will be. A decision needs to be made this week, the fans, the players and the club need to know who is taking us forward and transfer deals need to start happening.
However I will say my final piece, if Houllier does go he will go with my thanks. He is the man that broke the “first team click”, a man that took players out of their pampered comfort zone of first picks and told to earn their place. The man who tried to bring our football out of the 80’s, the man who brought us Darren Bent. Houllier had a difficult job when he came to Villa, made all the more difficult but some players who decided they where bigger and more important than the team. Players who decided to resist any change for the good as it threatened their place. Players who lacked professionality… players he did not bring to the club. Houllier has also put in place a scouting system that we can now be proud of and we will actually use, he has helped develop the training methods for the youngster meaning we will now produce more technically proficient players and importantly he has weeded out those player who crack under pressure, players you can’t rely on when things get tough.
So although we’ve come off the back of a poor season, I think we’ll be feeling the good effects that Houllier has had on our club for many years to come. I hope Houllier gets the credit he deserves when people see the foundation he has built if a new man comes in and aims for the sky…