Houllier to step in after Bolton game

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The Independent Online

Gerard Houllier is finally logging out of PowerPoint. Aston Villa yesterday confirmed that their new manager will leave his job as technical director at the French football federation at the end of the week and take charge after the club's match against Bolton on Saturday.

Houllier was hired by Villa last week on a three-year deal, but was still contractually tied to his administrative role at the French FA – he did not attend Monday night's defeat to Stoke City because he had to chair a meeting of French club managers in his homeland.

However, a statement released by Villa yesterday said that Houllier would take the reins from caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald after the Bolton game and would be in charge for the Carling Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers next Wednesday.

The French football federation would not comment on whether it had agreed to release Houllier from his contract.

MacDonald, who has been in charge since the resignation of Martin O'Neill before the start of the season, will oversee the game against Bolton. He will then return to his role as reserve-team coach but has said he is considering his options.

The 63-year-old Houllier returns to English football after a six-year absence. He managed Liverpool between 1998 and 2004, winning six trophies.

Houllier is keen to appoint Gary McAllister as a coach after his former assistant Phil Thompson and MacDonald turned down the role.

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