By Paul Brown
Stewart Downing says Gerard Houllier's arrival has given the players a real lift - with their desire to be a part of his bright future demonstrated by the courageous win at Wolves.
Downing insists there's a healthy battle for places at Villa, with the whole squad eager to work hard to win - and maintain - a first team spot.
He says that intense desire and hunger was perfectly illustrated in the late show at Molineux.
He told AVTV: "With the new manager coming in, it has given the players a lift.
"We're all new to him and we don't know what to expect but it gives the players a lift and that showed against Wolves.
"We're all fighting to be in the team. We all want to play and everyone is starting afresh.
"We have to be on our toes. It's a great win for him and a great win for the team.
"This happens at every club. The new manager, when he comes in, isn't bothered about players' names and reputations. It's all new.
"Whoever plays well gets in the team. We've got to fight for our places but that brings performances out of players.
"All the squad are on their toes and competition is healthy.
"Nigel has come in and is doing very well. Stephen has come to a new club and he's finding it hard to get into the team at this moment. I am sure he's disappointed but Nigel is playing well and he deserves to play.
"That's the way it is for anyone in the team. It doesn't matter who you are. If you play well, you're in the team.
"I really think that's healthy competition and brings out performances."
Downing was thrilled to be on the right end of a late winner, after the desolation of the defeat at Stoke.
He was also delighted to bag yet another goal - and an impressive one at that.
He continued: "The win was the most important thing, especially after we went back to 1-1.
"You saw at Stoke what happened when we lost the lead. But this result shows we do the other side of the game - we scrap, we fight - that came across especially in the second half.
"We played some good stuff at times and I thought it was a good win for us.
"For the opener, Marc was out wide and you know he's going to try and beat his man. I tried to get in between the defenders. Sometimes defenders can switch off.
"It was a great ball across, fizzed in with some pace but it was a great goal.
"It's probably one to look back on and say it was a good move - good passing. It was like the perfect goal really - good cross into the box with a good finish. It was a good goal."
Downing also paid tribute to Emile Heskey, who bagged the winner at Molineux.
He added: "It was a great goal. He was under pressure, fighting with the lad to get his head on the ball.
"He's attempting to get that lift and that power on the header. He managed to get it into the perfect gap down there.
"Emile has been fantastic. He works so hard, gets his head down and gets on with it. I am pleased he got the goal."