Houllier's coronation looks better without Thompson
Houllier: any clues about who'll be assistant?
I originally declared disappointment at Gérard Houllier's appointment as Aston Villa's first manager hired by Randy Lerner. Now I admit his arrival looks better that Phil Thompson's rejected the chance of joining him!
Our American owner wants a man with both Premier League experience and an international profile. Houllier ticks both of those boxes - but then again so do many other inappropriate figures in the game.
Thompson's turned down the chance because of his TV commitments. A one club man through and through, Thommo would've frankly looked out of place at Villa Park.
Phil Thompson: calm down, la!
Villa is in Birmingham with all its cultural and regional differences to Liverpool. Thommo firmly represents a Liverpool way. Villa are in no way a lesser pedigree of football club to Liverpool. But Thompson's arrival would've intimated that.
But what does Houllier do with Kevin MacDonald? Caretaker manager in the wake of Martin O'Neill's shock resignation, MacDonald's fifteen years at Villa gives him a special relationship with so many players and staff in the club.
MacDonald would make the Ticket look so much more rounded if he were to be Houllier's right-hand man. The Frenchman could do a whole lot worse than get over Thommo with I think, a much better coach.
Houllier is a spikey, divisive figure with a history of buying terrible players at Liverpool including Bruno Cheyrou, Titi Camara and Salif Diao.
Then again, he did produce a team which won the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and finished fourth in the Premier League - all in one season (so technically qualifying for Europe in four different ways!)
His Anfield progress was disrupted by a heart problem. Nevertheless, he did make a full recovery and led Lyon to two French Ligue Championnats.
I don't want to be too critical - but I just have a bad feeling about this. It smells of a kneejerk appointment of the small pool of available bosses.
If O'Neill's untimely departure was designed to cause Villa damage, then the Ulsterman certainly put the club on the backfoot.
Let's get behind Houllier because we have to - but Randy should keep one eye on the soul of the club as well as our supposed constituency of the watching football world.