Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier will forget all about his friendship with Aram Grant when the two managers’ sides meet on Saturday.Villa are still under threat of relegation as they are only five points above the drop zone, with West Ham currently third from bottom.
But Houllier insists he cannot afford to do his old friend Grant a favour at Upton Park.
“I know Avram well. I have met him through football because obviously he was in charge of Chelsea at one time,” Houllier said.
“But the job of a manager is to be a realist and you always have to look after your own club first – it will be the same for every manager in the league even if they are your friend.
“We fight for points and for places although we are also man enough to remain friends. But for those 90 minutes we cannot be friends and do favours for each other.”
And Houllier has played down the influence of Glenn Roeder on his plans for the game.
The former West Ham manager has been scouting for Houllier, but the Frenchman insists that Roeder will have little impact.
“Glenn just does little bits for me. He goes the games and I ask him about a few things,” Houllier said.
And although Villa arrested their slump in form with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle last weekend, Houllier insists his side have to maintain their focus to ease any lingering relegation fears.
“We have to focus on getting the points at West Ham and getting points from all of the remaining games we have left,” he added.
“Sometimes it will be the team that shows the most desire that wins and we must show that.”
The Aston Villa squad has a clean bill of health and Houllier is expected to name an unchanged side.