When General Charles Krulak lept to the defence Gerard Houllier prior to his appointment at Villa Park, it was evident he would not be greeted with universal acclaim. The regulars have been divided on their opinions surrounding the Frenchmen so the appointment of Gary McAllister as his right hand man may also lead effortlessly into questions about whether this is the dream team to drive Aston Villa Football Club forward.
McAllister is the fourth person to be offered the job behind Phil Thompson, Patrice Bergues and MacDonald who all turned it down – hardly a vindication of Houllier’s earlier claim that the Scot was his “most inspirational signing” at Liverpool .
And Houllier himself may not offer the most astute of acquisitions from American owner Randy Lerner. His predecessor, Martin O’Neill, picked up many bargains in his transfer market shopping at Villa Park and the big money spent on the now departed James Milner and Ashley Young has been justified by Villa’s recent success.
In contrast, the 63-year old Frenchman is notorious for being more than a little wasteful with transfer funds from his time at Anfield. El Hadj Diouf, Igor Biscan and Salif Diao are names which dredge up bad memories for any Liverpool fans, with the signings of Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise and Henchoz the only substantiation of his shrewd nature in the market. So I am hardly inclined to believe he will do well with a dwindling budget.
And that dwindling budget was perhaps pivotal in Martin O’Neill’s decision to leave the club, meaning the unlikely occurrence of the chairman handing him a war chest may hinder Aston Villa’s Premier League progression. Surely a new manager needs to entice the type of players he feels are perfect for implementing a prosperous regime. Meanwhile, McAllister’s spells in management have been so indifferent they will fail to ignite a sense of adulation that he will be working alongside someone who has been out of the Premier League for six years now.
In fairness, Martin O’Neill’s reign at Villa Park is always going to be difficult to follow and perhaps the debate will only be curbed when the comparisons between Houllier and the Northern Irishman subside. The Frenchman who has guided both Liverpool and Lyon to silverware in the past alongside McAllister may be far from perfect but it is the best Villa could have done in the current circumstances.