Belfast Telegraph

Villa fan chief backs Hughes

The chairman of the Aston Villa Supporters Trust believes it is "almost certain" manager Gerard Houllier will leave the club this summer, and has called for Fulham's Mark Hughes to replace him.

Villa are currently assessing Houllier's position after he was forced to miss the last month of the season because of heart problems - the second time the Frenchman has suffered from such ill health in his career.

It has been reported that Villa are awaiting test results to determine if the 63-year-old is fit to return to work, but Peter Warrilow, head of AVST, believes the conclusion is inevitable, saying: "It's almost certainly the case that Gerard Houllier will depart, and his departure would be in the best interests of both his health and Aston Villa."

He added: "It's all very unsettling at a time when what we really need is some stability."

The Villa fans have not been convinced by Houllier since his appointment last September, and a flirtation with the relegation zone earlier this year did not help.

He still polarises opinion despite the club eventually finishing ninth but Warrilow does not believe Villa will use Houllier's health as an excuse to remove him from his post.

"My knowledge of (owner) Randy Lerner and (chief executive) Paul Faulkner doesn't suggest that they would be that cynical," he said.

"But if you look at Aston Villa's long-term future then it would be quite wrong to go into the new season having committed a lot of money to a man to go out and rebuild the squad, then two months into the season find themselves in the same situation of his health being in decline and him not being able to continue.

"In terms of practicality, his departure would be sensible so that Villa can secure a new manager for the longer-term future."

Should Houllier leave, Warrilow feels the club could find the perfect replacement in the shape of Hughes, saying: "Everyone knows that Mark Hughes has the opportunity to break his contract at Fulham - I think he would be an ideal choice."


From Belfast Telegraph