Houllier back at the helm as Villa chief

GERARD HOULLIER was last night confirmed as the new manager of Aston Villa after agreeing a three-year deal.

The former Liverpool boss was succeed Martin O’Neill, who resigned just five days into the start of the new season following a bust-up with owner Randy Lerner.

In six years at Anfield, Houllier, 63, won the Uefa Cup, the FA Cup, two League Cups and a European Super Cup before leaving in 2004.

Since then, he had led Lyon to back-to-back French League titles before going on to work as technical director for the French Football Federation.

“I am very happy and proud to join this great and historic club,” Houllier said last night. “It was a very difficult decision for me to leave the FFF, but I could not turn down the opportunity to manage a club whose approach, both on and off the pitch, I have long admired.

“Aston Villa is one of England’s biggest clubs and has an amazing set of fans. This is a tremendous challenge and one I am very much looking forward to taking on.”

Villa’s chief executive Paul Faulkner added: “Two of the key qualities we identified as being of crucial importance 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.

“In fact, he stands out as a football man who understands the ethos of our club and shares our core values.

“We look forward to working with Gerard and supporting him. We ask our supporters to get behind the new manager and the team as we look to build on the progress we have made over the past four years in all areas of the club.”

Houllier, who is due to meet the Villa players and front the media later today, is also set to unveil Patrice Bergues as his new No2.

Bergues worked as Houllier’s No2 at Liverpool until 2001 and got the nod after Phil Thompson turned down the role to continue his media work.