Houllier gives Villa fresh impetus
It was a perfect start for new Villa boss Gerard Houllier, as his new team swept aside Blackburn in the Carling Cup on Wednesday. The Villans went behind in the first half to a Gael Givet rocket, but came out fighting after the break and when Houllier introduced Emile Heskey mid-way through the second half, he made an instant impact by neatly finishing in the corner. It is starting to look like Heskey may eventually justify his £3.5 million move from Wigan last year, and it is hard to remember him making such an impact on any game before this week.
Heskey was the catalyst for the advancing Villa, who took a two goal lead in under a couple of minutes after a great performance yielded a brace for the lively Ashley Young. The Aston Villa betting now makes them among the favourites for the cup.
Villa desperately need a bit of magic from the Houllier, after a tough start to this season, which was clear last weekend when they were booed off by their own fans. If anyone can turn around the club’s fortunes it should be Houllier, his impressive record includes bringing through such players as Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher and he is shrewd with the cheque book. His style is much more continental, and should bring out the best in Agbonlhor, Friedel, Ashley Young and youngsters like Albrighton, Delph, Clark, Bannan, as well as under-utilised players such as Reo Coker and Sidwell. The rumour mill has also linked Villa with players including Michael Owen.
If Villa can maintain their recent run of finishing up in sixth it will be an achievement this season. The tectonic plates of English football are rearranging themselves slightly, and fourth is now open to Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Villa. This would be good news if it weren’t for the fact that those other teams have more world-class players and better track records. October will be a tough month for Villa who face both Spurs and Chelsea, if they can put together some decent performances and even stick some points on the board they should be confident in having a good crack at fourth.?