Gerard Houllier delighted with improving Stewart Downing

Gerard Houllier has hailed the improvement in Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing during the current campaign.

England head coach Fabio Capello watched Downing - and Ashley Young - produce outstanding performances in the 4-1 win over Blackburn on Saturday.

Houllier believes Downing has overcome any reservations he may have had over the broken foot which sidelined for eight months.

The Villa boss said: "I think the injury was maybe in the back of Stewart's mind at the beginning of the season.

"But now he looks like he's doing well and enjoying it. Stewart is outstanding. He has improved a lot.

"Stewart is more confident, he can pass, he can score, his goal against Blackburn was fantastic.

"He can make runs sometimes to cover, sometimes to fill in, and his technique is good, his awareness is good.

"Stewart can play on either side, right or left. He's one of the rare players who can use his right or left foot,

"I hope he is in the next England squad, for us and for Stewart's sake, because I like it when our players go and play for their country."

Houllier has managed to unite the Villa squad after rumblings of discontent earlier in the season and this was confirmed to the former Liverpool boss on Saturday.

He said: "One of my moments of happiness against Blackburn was when I saw the reaction from the bench when we scored.

"We had some of the senior players on there, yet everyone was happy and wanted to share that positive emotion.

"That's a good sign for the future. It starts from there, the attitude from the players on the bench.

"If they're happy, because they will be involved, I like that."

Houllier understands the diverse reaction of supporters who appeared frustrated in the first half against Rovers but expressed their delight after a sparkling second 45 minutes.

He said: "At Sunderland when we finished losing 1-0 and went down to 10 men, we had fans singing 'you're getting sacked in the morning' but a fortnight later they were singing my name.

"The fans want to see goals so they will be happy after the second half against Blackburn.

"The fans want their team to play well and win games but I think more important was our style of play.

"The first half may have been frustrating for the fans but not for me because I thought we were doing exactly what we wanted to do: passing the ball around and being creative."



Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect