Belfast Telegraph

Villa back under-fire Houllier

Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner has backed manager Gerard Houllier to keep the club in the Premier League.

The experienced French coach has been targeted by the Villa fans after failing to impress since taking over at the club early in the season following the departure of Martin O`Neill. They go into this weekend`s fixtures just two points above the relegation zone, but Faulkner insists Houllier is still the man for the job.

"Yes, total support," he told AVTV about his position with the former Liverpool boss. "We are focused on these last seven games, getting the points we need right now to get out of the situation we are in."

Houllier, meanwhile, has set his players a 10-point survival target and insists "excuses are not an option".

He believes Villa will need 44 points to guarantee top flight football for another campaign ahead of Sunday's home clash with Newcastle.

They will also take on Stoke, Wigan and Liverpool at Villa Park, plus away meetings with West Ham, West Brom and Arsenal.

Houllier said: "The number of points needed to stay up will be higher than normal. I think ideally 10 points will put you in a safe position and that is what we want.

"It could be eight or nine but you do not know.

"We have four home games and three away and what we require is results.

"Excuses are not an option. We want results and points."

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