as if he did not have enough problems, first waiting for his side to score, then with winning games, Gerard Houllier is now fighting fires off the pitch as well.
A simmering row with John Carew has boiled over. The Norway forward, 31, is injured, which is never a good time to push for a new contract, but that is what the former Valencia striker wants. His current deal expires next summer. But Houllier is in no mood to be bossed around by a player who has not scored in seven league appearances this season. He said: "I like John but if fans chant his name and the end product is nothing, then fans will chant 'Houllier go home'. So I have to make the choice sometimes."
Carew claimed Houllier was not showing him any respect by not offering him a new contract. The Frenchman said Carew has to earn a new deal by playing and scoring, rather than "living in the past".
Unsurprisingly, Carew has a different take, feeling his 37 goals in 110 league appearances since January 2007 should be enough to earn him a contract extension.
Carew said: "I don't know if Gerard Houllier was badly prepared for Aston Villa when he took over the club. Maybe he is, because a lot has changed in the last years, especially since I came to the club. I think Houllier insults both me and the fans when he goes out like that."
At Craven Cottage, the Aston Villa manager saw Marc Albrighton put Villa ahead, their first goal in 385 Premier League minutes, but then, in stoppage time, they were denied a first win since the end of September when Brede Hangeland's header went in off Stephen Warnock's chest.
Houllier has been back in English football for barely two months. Any honeymoon is well and truly over.
Man of the match Bannan Match rating 6/10 Possession Fulham 53% Villa 47%
Shots on target Fulham 10 Villa 8
Referee P Walton (Northants) Att 25,676