How much longer does Gerard Houllier have at Aston Villa?

Although not having the best preparation Houllier may not be Aston Villa's manager much longer‘Had enough, Houllier out’ was the message from Aston Villa fans even before the Birmingham club’s embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to relegation threatened Wolves on Saturday. It was a sentiment resonating the opinion of the majority, as Houllier’s stint in charge has succeeded only in a catastrophic season, seeing Villa currently occupy 14th place, eight places below their final league position last year. 14th is no comfort for any Villa fan, as taking a look at the table will reveal that Houllier’s side are just a point away from the relegation zone, and three from the foot of the Premier League, in a season where there has barely been room to move.

Despite a vote of confidence from the Villa hierarchy, even they cannot deny that the season has been devastating for the club. Whether the manager was the problem, or the lack of a manager in Martin O’Neil, is a question which the fans answered against Wolves, as they chanted ‘Houllier Out!’ after the final whistle of a match where many a Villa player felt the need to simply lower their head and walk by unnoticed, as Wolves capitalized on the performance of a side playing as though they were already down. After last year’s successes, with Villa claiming sixth spot and a Europa League place, fans will be wondering what might have been had Martin O’Neil stuck to the job rather than deserting the club within a week of the new season.

Any manager succeeding such achievements would have been given a harsh welcome, and Houllier was not helped by the
disarray O’Neil caused by his absence. Since then, even the addition of Darren Bent and Jean Makoun, despite a short-lived revival period, could not stop the club’s slide down the table, and the defeat to Wolves was the low-point of the season so far.

This next month (provided Houllier lasts that long) will be essential in Villa’s, and Gerard Houllier’s survival, as they play a revitalized Everton, a slipping Newcastle, a motivated West Ham, a tough Stoke side and a West Brom team who are desperate to eradicate their reputation as a yo-yo club. With eight games to go, any one of these five teams could still be drawn into the relegation scrap, a scrap which Aston Villa are already in, and so wins will be hard to come by. Having said that, all of these games are definitely winnable, and Houllier will want, as well as need, as many points as he can get, especially before a tough final three games sees them play Wigan, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Eight games may be a long time in Football, but the former Liverpool manager will be without a club in the summer in my opinion, even if he saves the club from the drop.

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