It's all over the news today: Gérard Houllier is almost certain to be named as the Aston Villa manager. I'm not quite sure how it went from "Director of Football as part of a three man team" to "48 Hours Until Houllier Is Named As Manager." Of course, the English press being what it is, there's no firm confirmation. There's just "understanding" and "belief". For all I know, they're all writing the stories after reading someone else's story. Villa could pull a rabbit out of a hat tomorrow and leave everyone stunned.
But in absence of a magical bunny, what are the Villa looking at in Houllier? An old-ish man, for one, aged 63. He managed various French clubs before heading to Liverpool, where in his third season the Reds won the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup while coming in third in the Premier League.
Sounds promising, right? Sounds like any Villa supporter would want this man leading their club. But it hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops with this man. Now, I'll admit to not knowing a ton of his history, but there are some questionable warning signs for me. First of all, current technical director of France? Didn't France just lose...to Belarus? Isn't this the same France that flamed out in the first round of the World Cup? Granted, many of their issues can be pinned on Raymond Domenech, But this is a man responsible for advising the manager. If any of that advice was heeded, well...
Speaking of the World Cup, recently a FIFA panel--a technical study group--awarded Wayne Rooney a commendation for his efforts in the tournament, and included him as one of England three best players. Houllier was part of this panel. If they're naming Rooney as one of the best players in the tournament, they either didn't watch England's performance or this man has not a lick of ability when it comes to evaluating talent. England may not have fielded the most effective team, but it seems to me they could've picked another name to stand beside Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole. Even Emile Heskey, for goodness sake.
Even if the Villa bring back Houllier as a director of football, that's still showing a lot of faith in someone that's been out of work for three years--and who left Liverpool due, at least in part, to the ineffectiveness of his signings. He spent big bucks on players who proved to be ineffective, including Djimi Traore, Titi Camara, Igor Biscan, Salif Diao and Bruno Cheyoru. Excited yet?
What worries me more is that it appears that the entirety of his scouting--one of the things Villa wants to use him for--is based upon looking to the French youth system. That would be fine if the Villa were a team without a strong academy, but ours is one of the best in England. We would simply be trading a man who focuses solely on the Premier League for one that focuses on the French. That's not a revolutionary change in mindset, it is only a shift in latitude. This is a man that consistently underperforms, and when he does so, he points the finger elsewhere. He might have experience in Europe and England, but it's not the kind of experience Villa need. Take a chance, Randy Lerner. Bring in someone with fresh ideas, not stale, outdated, boring thoughts about football.