Houllier offers Reo-Coker long-term future with appointment as captain

Gerard Houllier wants the midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker to stay at Aston Villa for the long term after appointing him captain during Stiliyan Petrov's two-month absence through injury. Reo-Coker is out of contract next summer but Houllier revealed yesterday that Villa's chief executive, Paul Faulkner, has already held talks with his agent.

It is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the former England Under-21 captain, who had few opportunities under the previous manager Martin O'Neill after a training ground row. Reo-Coker will lead the side for the first time since Petrov suffered his knee ligament injury in tonight's Carling Cup fourth-round tie with Burnley at Villa Park.

Houllier said: "I don't want to talk about the past. I don't want to bother with that. Just from what I see, Nigel's attitude and his work rate has been consistent.

"In terms of performance, he knows exactly his role in the team. He works for the team and he has improved a lot, even over the last few games. Exemplarity is also a very important factor to me and that's why he's the captain. I hope he will stay with us."

Asked if there will be contract negotiations in the near future, Houllier added: "It's too early to say but Paul Faulkner has started to have talks with his agent. He knows I want to keep him."

Houllier admits he is wary in general about giving lucrative contracts to players because of the negative effect it can have on their performances.

But he does not believe Reo-Coker falls into that category, saying: "You have to be careful when you give good contracts to players. You don't want a player, once he has a contract, to get back into a sort of comfort zone, put a bit of weight on sometimes and not work as much.

"You have to make sure the contract is not the end in itself. It must be the start of a fighting experience to win things for the club. If you give a contract to a player it means you trust him for the future. I just want fighters.

"I want players who are very hungry for success and not players who just think, 'Feet up and relax'. That's all. I think Nigel has probably gone through good times and bad times until now.

"But he knows the years to come are vital for him and it's better to be in an environment he knows, he likes and in which he will enjoy his football and therefore improve."

Houllier has plenty of respect for Burnley as he stressed the importance of the Carling Cup. He said: "We have done our homework. We know about them. They are a good football team who play good football.

"It's a good, important game for them and for us. I hope they have a go but they must expect that we have a go at them as well. It will be an interesting tie. The players are aware a win will bring them to the quarter-finals.

"Every cup is important because it is important to bring silverware to the club."

In addition to Petrov, the striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (groin injury) and defender Luke Young (hamstring) are out of action.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence