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Downing backs Houllier to succeed at Aston Villa

Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing believes Gerard Houllier has all the credentials to bring success to Villa Park and continue his impressive track record in management.

Houllier will not be in charge for Monday night's Premier League clash with Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium as he ties up the loose ends with the French Football Federation. He resigned as their technical director last week and under French law Houllier could be forced to serve three months' notice, but that's highly unlikely.

The Frenchman is yet to meet the Villa players because of the impasse and will have to wait until 26 September to take charge of his first league game at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

However, Downing is happy with the appointment, although he has also acknowledged the work done by Kevin MacDonald, the man who was overlooked for the role and who will resume caretaker duties against Stoke.

Downing said: "If you look at his past record as a manager, with what he did at Liverpool and at Lyon, he's obviously got a good record and you don't get jobs like that if you're not very good. There's no reason that I can think of why he can't do very well at Aston Villa.

"He's got a good squad of players to work with. It's a great club, great facilities so everything's in place for him to do very well. I'm sure he's excited to come and work with the squad because, if he looks at it, he's got some very good players on his hands here."

Downing will be out to impress Houllier but knows players who did not feature regularly under Martin O'Neill will also be keen to make their mark.

He said: "Personally I see it as a challenge because every time a new manager comes in you've got to impress him. But all those lads who have not played can see it as a fresh start and the young lads coming through can see it as a chance to impress the manager.

"The main thing is we've got to play our best football and stay in the team and that doesn't change really - no matter who is in charge."

Downing believes Villa should go to Stoke full of confidence after showing plenty of resilience in overcoming Everton a fortnight ago.

He said: "That was a good confidence boost for us especially as it came straight after the Newcastle result (lost 6-0). We showed another side to our team. We're not just a flair team. We had to do that. Everton are a good team and they enjoyed a lot of possession. We were desperate to get something out of the game and it ended up being a really good result for us.

"Stoke have signed some good players in the transfer window so the game may turn out to be a bit different. But we should have a bit of confidence now. If we can beat a good team like Everton, we'll be going there to win the game."


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