Flashback 1992-93: Houghton finally signs and Big Ron eyes new striker
Paper: Birmingham Post
Ron Atkinson broke a personal rule of thumb sustained through 18 years in management to lure Ray Houghton to Aston Villa.
The 30-year-old Liverpool international originally rejected Villa's offer on Saturday morning in favour of Chelsea in his adopted home, London.
"When that happens, I normally say 'fair enough, all the best for the future," Atkinson revealed yesterday.
"But on this occasion I just had the vibes that deep down he wanted to come to us so I wouldn't take no for an answer.
"I would have bet my mortgage that we would get him after seeing him on the Thursday," admitted Atkinson.
"But in the end it wasn't a question of more money, it was just showing him that he would be better off at Villa Park and that we mean business."
Houghton finally agreed a four-year contract and links up with his former Liverpool and Eire team-mate Steve Staunton.
"I had a long chat with Steve about the ins and outs of the club which is why I nearly went to Chelsea," joked Houghton.
"There was this big thing about my wife wanting to go back to London. She did a bit but there's no problem.
"The manager and chairman took us around, showed us some nice places and there's no problem about it.
"The manager put across the club's desire to win something this year and I want to be part of it. I chose Villa because I had the gut feeling that they were the right team."
Houghton joins his new team-mates for light training today but will not play in the friendly at Shrewsbury. Instead he is likely to make his debut during Villa's short German tour on which they leave on Thursday morning.
Atkinson said: "We haven't had a right-sided midfield player and now we have one as good as any in the country. He stands comparison with Trevor Steven.
"We now have three midfielders in Parker, Richardson and Houghton who have good knowledge and experience."
Houghton's new team-mates are as pleased as their manager at his capture.
Atkinson said: "Jim Barron passed news of his signing on to the lads while they were travelling to Bournemouth on Saturday and he said a cheer went up on the bus.
"You don't expect that kind of thing with signings but it shows how highly they rate Ray. I was really chuffed about that!"
Atkinson's top priority is now a striker although he would not be disappointed to start the season with his present line-up.
"It is no secret that we are looking for a striker. We have about 40 names broken down to the A list, the B list, the C list and the Panic list.
"But if we can get the guy we want then I'm sure the board will back me as much as they can, as they have in this deal."
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