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Houllier aiming high with Villa

Gerard Houllier believes he can guide Aston Villa into the top four and claim the club's first silverware in 14 years by the time his initial three-year deal at Villa Park comes to an end.

• Houllier absent from Stoke clash

Houllier, who is expected to officially take charge in two weeks, revealed his lofty ambitions as he was unveiled as Villa's new boss on Friday.

"The chairman (owner) Randy Lerner has set no targets," Houllier said. "But in the three years, I think the club will be extremely happy if they get in the top four, achieve Champions League at some stage.

"That is my initial target but I do not have what people have described as 'unfinished Premier League business'. I am not in that mood at all. Altogether we won six trophies at Liverpool.''

And the former Liverpool manager also stressed that another of his aims is to help Villa's young players improve, something he focused on during his time as head of technical development with the French Football Federation.

"If the young English players are good enough, they will play. But there is one thing I can tell you: I am sure they will improve if they are focused.

"If you look at some of the players I had at Liverpool, they made some progress, some improvement. For the young players, whatever the talent, one of the key ingredients to succeed is work and attitude.

"Attitude determines everything because that determines what you will make of your talent. You can the have best talent but if the attitude is not right, you waste it. We will do everything we can to make them improve and if they are good enough, they will play.''

Houllier will not be at the helm for Monday's game at Stoke as he ties up loose ends with the French Football Federation, with whom he has been working as technical director.

He will attend, but not be in charge, of next weekend's home game with Bolton and, if all goes to plan, hopes to be formally in charge for the Carling Cup tie with Blackburn four days later.

"Unfortunately, I won't be at the Stoke game because I'm employed by the FFF," Houllier said. "According to French law, they could say ''you've got to stay another three months".

"I am negotiating with the chairman to leave far earlier and I've got a good relationship with them. I'm hoping to be here for the Bolton game or right after the Bolton game. I'll attend the Bolton game and maybe we will start from after there.''

Houllier confirmed that Patrice Bergues, one of his backroom staff at Lens and Liverpool, will not be linking up with him at Villa - at least in the immediate future.

"We are very close friends, but he phoned me and regrets he can't come for personal reasons," Houllier said. "If things get sorted then he'll come but he has to get things addressed first.''

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