Houllier checks in at Villa

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New Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier introduced himself to the players for the first time following Saturday's 1-1 draw with Bolton.

Departing caretaker-manager Kevin MacDonald confirmed Houllier held a brief chat with the squad in the dressing room before watching the match from the directors' box along with assistant Gary McAllister - who was announced in his role before the match. The Frenchman will officially take up his post on Monday, with just 48 hours to prepare for his first game in charge, a Carling Cup tie at home to Blackburn.

"Mr Houllier went down to see the players, to introduce himself and some of his team, and I'll be seeing him tomorrow (Sunday) morning to have a chat about things," said MacDonald. "With Mr Houllier having watched Monday's game (a 2-1 defeat at Stoke) and today's match he knows there is something to work with."

He added: "His backroom staff looks good, and with the players we've got, let's hope we push on further and further."

Former Villa star Gordon Cowans steps up from his role as youth coach to become first-team coach.

Houllier has also announced Rafa Gonzalez as goalkeeping coach after previously working with the reserves, whilst Robert Duverne, who worked with the Frenchman at Lyon where they won back-to-back titles, has been appointed as coach/fitness coach.

MacDonald will now revert back to his old role as reserve manager after being in the spotlight for the last six weeks in the wake of Martin O'Neill's shock exit on the eve of the season.

"We've worked very hard, conducted ourselves fairly well, and not just myself," added MacDonald, referring to his 'backroom' staff.

"Six weeks ago nobody knew me, but six weeks later I can say I was interviewed for one of the major jobs in the Premier League along with Gerard Houllier, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Alan Curbishley. So I think I've come a long way in that six weeks."

Villa, though, failed to give MacDonald the send-off he arguably deserved, despite taking a 13th-minute lead courtesy of a superb free-kick from Ashley Young. Bolton fought their way back into the game, with captain Kevin Davies equalising 10 minutes before the break, and but for a hat-trick of fine Brad Friedel saves in the second half would have taken all three points.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Stoke City
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
League Cup
Premier League
Ashley Young
Brad Friedel
Aston Villa
Kevin Davies
Gary McAllister

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