Merson 'disillusioned' enough to leave Villa

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Paul Merson could be ready to quit Aston Villa, after admitting he is fed up with all the in-fighting at the club. The Villa captain has even suggested that Saturday's goalless draw at Fulham could have been his last game for the club.

Merson feels let down by manager John Gregory's decision to quit Villa for Derby, and also fed up by all the attacks from supporters on the chairman Doug Ellis and the board.

The former England midfielder, who is in his fourth season at Villa, claimed it had all left him feeling "disillusioned with the game".

Merson, who has 17 months left of his current contract, always wears his heart on his sleeve and now it remains to be seen whether he will go ahead with his threat to walk away from Villa. He said: "I love this club but the game at Fulham could be my last for Villa.

"What happened with John Gregory going to Derby has made me disillusioned with the game. He was at Derby within a few days and you can't tell me that was pot luck.

"He rang me the night he left Villa and I said: 'You've got the Derby job,' and he said nothing. You don't leave Villa to go to Derby. This is a massive club. He went to Derby within 48 hours. What does that tell you?

"But what people have got to understand is that he wasn't sacked and I found it strange that he walked out and yet the fans gave the board stick. I didn't understand it. I thought it was John who was going to get hammered.

"I see the all-round picture. The chairman is trying his hardest. Sometimes he gets stick, and rightly so, but at the same time he never sacked John.

"When Dwight Yorke left for the best club in the world in Manchester United, and made the club £12m, he still gets stick. John leaves a hero for going to Derby and I don't know why. It's not right and it has made me disillusioned."

Merson said he believed the board were right not to rush into replacing Gregory on the day Lothar Matthäus admitted he was a target for Ellis. "The board are trying to bring in the right man for the job. It's no good rushing in and bringing in any Tom, Dick or Harry."

Liverpool's chief executive, Rick Parry, has insisted there is no doubt Gérard Houllier will return to his role as manager of Liverpool.

Questions have been asked about the wisdom of Houllier returning to his job after undergoing major heart surgery last year, but Parry said: "There's one thing of which there is no doubt, he will be back. I think it will be within the time frame that we have consistently spelt out from day one, and I'm not going to be more specific.

"He was wholly involved in the signing of Abel Xavier and Nicolas Anelka, we talk every day, normally several times a day. His presence is felt even if he is not physically with us.

"I said the day after his operation in October that it would be four to six months, it's now three and a half and everything is completely on schedule.

"The operation was a complete success. His aorta is fine, but it takes the body that length of time to recover from a major operation.

"We have just told him to come back when he is OK. He's in touch, in the country, but we are telling him that the most important thing is to rest properly until he is absolutely able to come back."

George Graham has claimed he turned down the chance to be the next Scotland manager.

The former Germany coach Berti Vogts is now set to take over the Scottish national team, once his term as Kuwait coach is over. But the former Arsenal, Tottenham and Leeds manager Graham admits he was an early contender for the job but turned down an approach.

He said: "I was approached but to be honest I didn't hesitate for a second or think about it. I just indicated that I would rather stay involved with the club side of things. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to say to myself: 'Is there an opportunity here?'

"I'm still very patriotic but it will be like a lot of other small countries. Yes, you can organise them and get team spirit but ultimately you need the real quality players who can lift you and that's the main reason it wasn't for me."

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