Houllier fits criteria to lead Aston Villa towards Champions League

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Gerard Houllier has been chosen as the man to build on the groundwork completed by Martin O’Neill and continue Aston Villa’s challenge to break into the top four of the Premier League.

O’Neill left the club just before the start of the current season and Kevin MacDonald has led the team since, helping them to sit in fourth place in the table after three games.

However, Villa’s hierarchy were keen to appoint a manager with a proven track record and have opted to end Houllier’s six-year hiatus from English football rather than turn to MacDonald on a permanent basis.

Chief executive Paul Faulkner said: “Two of the key qualities which we identified as being of crucial importance in our search for the new manager were experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad.

“Gerard Houllier comfortably satisfies these criteria.”

Since leaving Liverpool, Houllier has won two Ligue 1 titles in France with Lyon and has most recently been a technical director with the French Football Federation.

The length of Houllier’s contract is yet to be revealed, although it is expected to be a three-year deal, while it is also unknown who will be his assistant, with MacDonald’s knowledge of Aston Villa potentially being an asset in the role.

However, other reports suggest that Houllier will turn to Phil Thompson, who was his number two at Liverpool.

Houllier’s first game in charge will be a trip to Stoke and Villa are 9/5 to begin his tenure with a victory to maintain their bright start to the season.

Meanwhile, the 63-year-old is 12/1 to improve on O’Neill’s achievements and lead Villa to a top-four finish in his first season and 200/1 to win the Premier League title.

Stoke are 6/4 to spoil Houllier’s first game in charge by claiming the three points. See the whole Stoke vs Aston Villa match betting market.

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