Stewart Downing tips Gerard Houllier to shine at Villa
Downing featured in 25 league games under ex-Villa boss Martin O'Neill last term
Barclays Premier League Venue: Britannia Stadium Date: Monday, 13 September Kick-off: 2000 BST Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live, local radio & live on Sky Sports 1
Aston Villa midfielder Stewart Downing has backed new manager Gerard Houllier to succeed at Villa Park.
Houllier, 63, will take charge in the coming weeks after tying up loose ends with the French Football Federation, where he was technical director.
"If you look at what he did at Lyon and Liverpool he's got a good record," said Downing before Monday's trip to Stoke.
"It's a great club, with good players and great facilities, so everything is in place for him to do very well."
Caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald will select the Villa side for a sixth successive match because Houllier, who is finalising his departure from the FFF, will not be in charge at the Britannia Stadium.
The Frenchman will, however, be at Villa Park for the visit of Bolton in the Premier League on Saturday and could lead the team for the Carling Cup clash against Blackburn on 22 September or, failing that, the league trip to Wolves on 26 September.
All those lads who have not played can see it as a fresh start and the young lads coming through can see it as a chance to impress the manager
Houllier spent six years in charge of Liverpool from 1998-2004 - winning the FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa Cup and European Super Cup in 2001 and another League Cup in 2003 - before guiding Lyon to the French title in 2006 and 2007.
"I saw his press conference when it got announced that he was the new manager and he came across very well," added Downing.
"If you look at his past record as a manager, you don't get jobs like that if you're not very good.
"There's no reason that I can think of why he can't do very well at Aston Villa. I'm sure he's excited to come and work with the squad because, if he looks at it, he's got some very good players on his hands here."
Downing, 26, joined Villa from Middlesbrough in July 2009 but featured in only 25 league games in his debut season at the club under then manager Martin O'Neill.
It has been a different story under MacDonald, however, with the England winger playing every minute of Villa's opening three league fixtures this term.
Like several players who were largely overlooked by O'Neill and emerging talents in whom MacDonald has placed his faith, Downing is keen to cement a place in the side under Houllier.
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