Welcome to the newest weekly feature at 7500 to Holte! We've been trying to toss around some ideas to give you, our beloved readers, more regular content throughout the week. The Friday Feedback is going to be a place where you can get your questions about Aston Villa answered by some top-notch writers, who know the team inside-out. Once they're done, I'll tack on my opinion too.
The format will be as follow: one overarching question about something to do with AVFC, and quick-hit answers from the four of us. But you have a role to play too! In the comments, leave the questions you have about the club and we'll pick one per week to be used as the prompt for this very column. What's on your mind, with regards to the club? Has the Houllier move of Ash to Center-Back concerned you, and you wonder what it means for the future of the world? Ask! It can be something silly, or it can be something of extreme importance, we just want your questions. For obvious reasons, the first week's question was thought of by us. Hopefully, however, it's the last time that happens.
This week's question: We've talked a lot about what we don't like in Gerard Houllier, but what are some potential positives of our new Frenchman?
Kirsten: While I still feel like Houllier isn't anything exciting and fresh, at least Villa looked outside the English system (a bit). While it wouldn't surprise me at all to find an influx of French players, it will be something different, something outside the English system. I hope he expands our scouting but makes sure the youth system stays strong.
Gareth: I was never really against Houllier, to be honest. He has been pretty successful pretty much wherever he goes. Judging by the poor timing of O'Neill's departure, I think he might be the best of a rather shallow managerial pool. I'm of course hoping that his experience with Clairefontaine translates into an even stronger academy system for Villa. Perhaps more importantly, though, I'm thinking that he could really be pivotal in making Ashley Young into a more consistent star. I'm not sure what makes me think he can do that, but I feel like he has experience with incredibly gifted players that struggle with consistency. Plus, I don't think he's under the impression that he'll be building a legacy with Villa. He's here to win, and win now.
Aaron: I've actually come around on this hiring quite a bit over the past few days; my initial disappointment was largely a factor of Houllier's not being younger or more interesting, but when I look at things objectively I can see things in a different light.
As Gareth says, Houllier is being brought in to win games now. I have a tough time believing that he's going to be put in charge of overhauling Villa's youth system structure, as he'll most likely be gone by the time the dividends are being paid. I have only a hunch, but it seems as though the way is being paved for Kevin MacDonald to take the reigns in a few years, and Houllier is being looked to as something of a short-term solution. I simply refuse to accept that the club is short sighted enough to appoint Houllier manager with the idea of his being in charge longer than a few years, and the board seems to have a great deal of affection for MacDonald. But I digress.
A great deal of my opposition to Houllier stems from his tactical decisions with Liverpool, but the more I learn of his time elsewhere the more my concerns fade. He has gained vastly different reputations at every stop along the way, and he's generally had a fair amount of success, which leads me to believe that he is at least willing to take stock of the talent at hand and base his tactical decisions on what is available rather than an idealized notion of how the game should be played. His record at Liverpool was a mixed bag, certainly, but his record everywhere else (as a manager at least) has been quite sparkling, and it's worth noting that his tenure at Liverpool began on less than favorable terms and he still managed to do well with what was given to him.
If Houllier understands the difference between an attacking midfielder and a box-to-box midfielder and if he's willing to be unorthodox (for England) with form and tactics, things could get fun pretty quickly. He's clearly not especially concerned about tradition based on his time with Lyon, but his time with Liverpool paints a different picture. I'm choosing to be optimistic, for reasons both practical and idealogical, but we shall see.
Robert: Aside from pictures? Well, actually, I can think of one big thing that does make me happy. He's a safe choice. And I don't mean that in the quasi-negative way that's been bandied about lately. Would I have loved a young, unknown manager? Sure. But there's a huge risk in taking someone like that. What if the person is an out-and-out moron and trashes the Villa system? That's something we don't have to be worried about with Houllier. He may never be as forward-thinking as we'd like, but we know he's accomplished, and at least somewhat intelligent. I don't see any way you can put that intelligence with Villa's talent and absolutely doom the club. Since he seems like a bit of an unspoken caretaker to me, if he can keep us in the top 6, I'd be ecstatic, and top 10 would make me comfortable. Let's use his experience to build a better club that we can pass on to some audacious new manager.
That's it for week one! Be sure to check out Kirsten's round-up of news from the Houllier presser for more today.