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Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Monday, 13 September 2010 09:13 UK

Stewart Downing tips Gerard Houllier to shine at Villa

Stewart Downing
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

Stewart Downing

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.


"Personally I see it as a challenge because every time a new manager comes in you've got to impress him," stated Downing.

"But 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.

"The main thing is we've got to play our best football and stay in the team and that doesn't change really - no matter who is in charge."

Villa go to Stoke full of confidence following their hard-fought victory over Everton before the international break and Downing is hoping for nothing less than three points.

"That was a good confidence boost for us especially as it came after the Newcastle result [lost 6-0]," he said.

"We showed another side to our team. We're not just a flair team. We had to do that. Everton are a good team and they enjoyed a lot of possession.

"We were desperate to get something out of the game and it ended up being a really good result for us.

"Stoke have signed some good players in the transfer window so the game may turn out to be a bit different.

"But we should have a bit of confidence now. If we can beat a good team like Everton, we'll be going there to win the game."

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see also
Stoke City 2-1 Aston Villa
13 Sep 10 |  Premier League
Villa ambition attracted Houllier
10 Sep 10 |  Aston Villa
Gerrard tips Houllier for success
09 Sep 10 |  Aston Villa
Houllier named Aston Villa boss
08 Sep 10 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill quits as Aston Villa boss
09 Aug 10 |  Aston Villa

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