Villa confirm Houllier appointment
Aston Villa have confirmed the appointment of Gerard Houllier as their new manager.
Houllier told the club's official website: "I am very happy and proud to join this great and historic club. It was a very difficult decision for me to leave the FFF but I could not turn down the opportunity to manage a club whose approach, both on and off the pitch, I have long admired.
"Aston Villa is one of England's biggest clubs and has an amazing set of fans. This is a tremendous challenge and one I am very much looking forward to taking on."
Steven Gerrard is backing his former manager to be successful at Villa after revealing he was "desperate'' to return to the Premier League. He said: "I've still got quite a close relationship with Gerard. He gave me my chance at the top level and I certainly learnt an awful lot from him.
"Aston Villa have got themselves a very good manager and I am not surprised Gerard has come back into the Premier League. I know how much he loves football. He has been desperate to get back involved in the Premier League so it is no surprise to me.
"It has been no surprise to me that Villa have been interested in him because he is a top manager. We had a magnificent year in 2001. He came in and had to change an awful lot of things at Liverpool and that is what he is good at.
"When he comes in, he knows what he wants, and he knows how to get a winning team. That showed by the five trophies we won under him.''
Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner added: "Two of the key qualities we identified as being of crucial importance in our search for the new manager were experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad, and Gerard Houllier comfortably satisfies these criteria.
"In fact, he stands out as a football man who understands the ethos of our club and shares our core values. We look forward to working with Gerard and supporting him and we ask our supporters to get behind the new manager and the team as we look to build on the progress we have made over the past four years in all areas of the club."
Houllier, 63, takes charge with immediate effect, and is set to lead his side out for the first time in Monday's Premier League game at Stoke.
His last full-time management role was with Lyon, where he won the Ligue 1 title in 2006 and 2007, and he previously had a six-year spell at Liverpool in which he clinched trophies including the UEFA Cup and FA Cup.
French Football Federation (FFF) president Fernand Duchaussoy had earlier announced that Houllier had resigned his role as technical director of the French national team to return to full-time management.
"Yes, it's true we're letting him leave for Aston Villa," Duchaussoy told RTL radio. "He's been a friend of mine for a long time, and is someone I admire a lot. It was a personal choice on the part of Gerard Houllier. He wanted a new adventure. It is his main motivation and is a unique opportunity to relive the sensations of the past."