Why Villa would be foolish to take Houllier back

by Ben McAleer

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

It is no small secret that the form of Aston Villa has dropped off considerably since Gerard Houllier took over the reins left by the departed Martin O’Neill back in September. The Birmingham side, which regularly challenged and, at times, almost broke the coveted top four in seasons past, have looked a shade of themselves since the former Liverpool manager took charge.

Houllier’s 39 games in charge of Villa have seen them win just 14 of these with the club having a win percentage of just 35.9%. The signing of Darren Bent appeased the harshest of critics temporarily but it has done little to sway the public vote in Houllier’s favour. The club may have staved off the threat of relegation this season after some serious flirting with the prospect of Championship football but with only six points separating Villa and 19th placed Wigan Athletic, club Chairman Randy Lerner will not be best pleased with the man he has put a huge amount of faith in.

Since his heart scare last month, the Frenchman hasn’t been back to manage the club with assistant Gary McAllister has been placed in temporary charge of Villa with the team picking up three wins in their last six league games that has seen them secure Premier League football next season.

However, it is pivotal the club begin to think of life beyond Houllier. Whether he will return to the club in a managerial capacity or not is yet to be seen but what Villa need now is a motivator, much the way O’Neill was, in order to improve the clubs fortunes on the pitch.

Yet, even if Houllier were welcomed back to Villa Park as manager, it would be backwards step from Lerner and co. especially if the results from the Frenchman’s rein continues into next season. The likes of David Moyes, Sam Allardyce and Martin Jol have all been linked with the manager’s job at Villa and it is hardly surprising that Houllier has found himself under copious amounts of pressure since the day he took charge of the first team.

Reports of player unrest haven’t helped matters but any manager should have cracked down upon any apparent ‘mutiny’ that had to potential to see the club implode. Fortunately, the core set of players, Ashley Young, Darren Bent, Stewart Downing and Richard Dunne, knuckled down and dragged Villa out of the rut and up the table.

It is clear to see a motivator is what is needed in the Villa camp. If results go their way on the final day of the season, the club has the potential to land a mid-table finish which, after the shambolic early season displays, could be perceived as a success among the club hierarchy.

Nonetheless, it is clear to see a change of manager is desperately needed if the club are to become a European contender again. I wish Houllier a speedy recovery and I am sure Villa fans feel the same way but I feel the same fans would rather see the Frenchman not managing the team when the new season rolls around in August.

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