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A tricky start to the season in which manager Martin O’Neill left before a ball was kicked, midfielder James Milner joined Manchester City and the club limped out of the Europa League, Aston Villa were in need of steady hands. Gerard Houllier should be just the man.
The 63-year-old Frenchman, who won five trophies with Liverpool and three French league titles, has swapped his job as technical director of the French Football Federation (FFF) for the Villa hot seat and brings a wealth of experience with him.
Many ardent Liverpool fans will point to Houllier’s Anfield arrival in 1998 as the dawn of an important era at the club whereby a new attitude was installed and success was soon to follow.
A five-year plan included the exit of big names such as Paul Ince, David James and Steve McManaman and the arrival of modest signings like Sami Hyypia, Dietmar Hamann and Stephane Henchoz, who were to leave a big impression on the club.