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High praise for a well-respected football man

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High praise for a well-respected football man

By Dan Harrison

Gerard Houllier is a man of vast experience and knowledge, as well as having outstanding contacts across the football world.

It comes as no surprise that Villa's new boss is so highly thought of by many people he has encountered during his years in the game.

The Frenchman is best known to followers of the Premier League for his spell at Liverpool, when he delivered a unique treble - the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup - in 2001.

Jamie Carragher, one of England's finest central defenders, brought defensive steel to Houllier's Reds side.

The 32-year-old has made no secret of his own future managerial aspirations and, speaking ahead of his recent testimonial against Everton, the veteran stopper had no doubt who he would be modelling his management style on.

"If I did become a manager, of all the ones I've had, I'd probably be most similar in style to Gerard Houllier," said Carragher.

"He used to lose his temper a little bit - I think I'd lose mine as well!"

Another old Anfield ally, Phil Thompson, had first-hand experience of Houllier's immense knowledge and understanding of the game during his time as Liverpool's assistant manager.

The Sky Sports pundit predicts a "fantastic occasion" when Houllier makes an emotional return to Anfield with Villa on Saturday December 4.

"He has got a wealth of knowledge, knows the game inside out and it will be fantastic occasion when Liverpool tackle Villa at Anfield in the first weekend of December," said the three-time European Cup winner.

One of the previous incumbents of the Villa Park hotseat, Graham Taylor, has encountered Houllier the manager - but also has tremendous respect for Houllier the man.

Taylor, another of football's great elder statesman, found himself up against the new Villa chief when England drew 0-0 with France at Euro 92.

Two-time claret and blues boss Taylor was in charge of England, while Houllier was assisting Les Blues manager Michel Platini.

"Having twice managed Villa, I know the demands," said Taylor. "And I know Gerard. He is a man for whom I have great respect."

Houllier is only Villa's second manager from outside the British Isles - and he will be pleased to enjoy the backing of the club's only other foreign appointment.

Dr Jozef Venglos, who took the reins for a season in 1990, believes Villa and the 63-year-old are a perfectly suited.

The Czech boss was quick to recognise Houllier's standing in world football.

"I am sure that Aston Villa and Gerard Houllier are right for each other," he said.

"It is a very good, well-run football club and Gerard is an excellent, experienced coach so they will work well together.

"He has very good contacts and I know him well through my involvement with UEFA and FIFA.

"I have met him many times and I respect him very much. He has shown his qualities in different countries. I think he will do a good job."

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, who will come up against the incoming gaffer in his first game as Villa boss on Monday night, also paid tribute to Houllier's past achievements.

"Gerard is experienced in the Premier League with Liverpool where he did a smashing job," said the Welshman.  

"I think he is walking into a football club which has top players and he has been very fortunate to get a great club."

Houllier's remarkable passion for the game was perhaps best summed up by former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry.

"Football is his life," he said. "The fact he's wanting to get back into the hurly-burly of football at this stage, when he could easily put his feet up, sums him up.

"I have the utmost respect for him and he will bring a wealth of knowledge with him to Villa."


By @AVFCOfficial 9th September 2010
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