Villa appoint Houllier manager
Birmingham - Aston Villa appointed Gerard Houllier as manager on Wednesday, bringing the Frenchman back to England's Premier League after a six-year absence.
Houllier, who managed Liverpool for six years until May 2004, left his post as technical director for the French Football Federation to replace Martin O'Neill, who quit last month.
"I am very happy and proud to join this great and historic club," Houllier said. "It was a very difficult decision for me to leave the FFF but I could not turn down the opportunity to manage a club whose approach, both on and off the pitch, I have long admired.
"Aston Villa is one of England's biggest clubs and has an amazing set of fans. This is a tremendous challenge and one I am very much looking forward to taking on."
Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner said the 63-year-old Houllier "stands out as a football man who understands the ethos of our club and shares our core values."
FFF president Fernand Duchaussoy told French radio station RTL on Wednesday that he had allowed Houllier to leave with regret.
"He's been a friend of mine for a long time, and is someone I admire a lot. It was a personal choice on the part of Gerard Houllier," Duchaussoy said. "He wanted to experience a new adventure in the field."
Houllier did not win anything in his first three years with Liverpool but broke that barren spell with the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup in the 2000-01 season.
Liverpool also took the Community Shield and European Super Cup to win five titles in 2001.
He then added only the League Cup, in 2003, before Liverpool replaced him with Rafa Benitez - who also stayed six years before leaving at the end of last season.
Houllier took over at Lyon a year after leaving Liverpool and led it to the French league title in each of his two years in charge.
O'Neill resigned as manager of Villa five days before the start of the Premier League season, leaving reserve team coach Kevin MacDonald to take over on a caretaker basis.
MacDonald led Villa to two wins, two draws and a defeat in his five matches in charge, leaving Villa fourth in the Premier League but out of the Europa League.
He is expected to remain at the club, although Villa is yet to confirm this.