Has Gerard Houllier got what it takes to turn stricken Villa Park ship around?
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Grit, determination, a never say die spirit were all common attributes in Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. However since Gerard Houllier took over shortly into the season things have changed dramatically, as Villa huff and puff towards the new year they have picked up a measly 3 points out of 18, with a worrying -8 goal difference.
Before the season had even started arguably the two most influential figures at Aston Villa, Martin O’Neill and James Milner both departed which would obviously have a negative effect on the club, but six months down the line it’s unacceptable for the club and team to look towards this to place the blame.
Earlier in the year injury’s looked to be at fault for Houllier’s apprehensive start, with key plays such as Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Gabriel Agbonlahor and John Carew all having spells on the side lines. Yet these players and more are now off the injury table and back full time training and the bad results mixed with poor performances continue to flow in.
So could it be down to the manager? Reports of training ground bust ups, arguments in the press and the seemingly unjustified disposal of key players such as target man John Carew, defensive colossus Richard Dunne both of whom were part of the spine of Aston Villa last term and even newcomer Stephen Ireland, will have done little to boost moral around Villa Park.
One thing that is evident is the lack of togetherness on the pitch, Villa simply lack the ability to string together a series of passes, willing runners into space seem increasingly hard to come by and possibly the most worrying aspect is the complete lack of fighting spirit within the team.
Only time will tell if the clubs blind faith in the newly appointed manager is a wise move or a catastrophic moment in the proud history of one of England’s footballing founders. With the January window approaching the Chairman, Randy Lerner watches on as Houllier dismantles the team which gained top 6 finishes three time running and sets about building his own team.
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