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Jermain Defoe frustrates Stoke

Stoke
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Friedel dismisses reservations over Houllier role

Brad Friedel has given a ringing endorsement to new Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier, despite suggestions that the two did not see eye-to-eye during their time at Liverpool.

• Agbonlahor lukewarm on Houllier

Houllier officially takes charge of Villa for the first time on Wednesday when the club face Blackburn in the Carling Cup but his appointment has already been met with some scepticism by elements of the Villa support.

Gabriel Agbonlahor also appeared less than enthused by the Frenchman's arrival, despite Houllier's success at Liverpool and his record of league triumphs with both Paris Saint Germain and Lyon.

It was suggested following the Frenchman's appointment that he could clash with Friedel - having allowed the 'keeper to leave Anfield in 2000 due to work permit complications - but the American is optimistic about the impact Martin O'Neill's replacement will have on the club.

"There was a lot that needed to be done at Liverpool when he took over," Friedel said. "Not only the first team but the whole infrastructure of the club. He had a lot of work to do there and he did very well indeed.

"Liverpool were falling behind Arsenal and Manchester United not just on the field but off the field too. On top of that he found himself as sole manager and had a lot on his plate.

"But he did a fantastic job and when people go back there and see the new Melwood and things of that nature they can attribute all that to him. So I am very hopeful he can take this club forward. He's very astute and very professional. He always gets the best out of his clubs."

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