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Mar 28, 2011

Friedel rejects claims of Villa revolt

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel has rejected claims of a revolt against manager Gerard Houllier after the club became embroiled in a bitter relegation scrap.

Friedel denied that a new set of player rules have been introduced under the Frenchman's reign despite newspaper stories claiming the changes have provoked disquiet within the squad.

Defenders Richard Dunne and James Collins were recently involved in a spat with a member of Houllier's backroom staff - for which they apologised - but the veteran stopper says there is no internal battle at the club.

The American said: "There has been a set of rules here for as long as I have been at the club as there is at every club and probably most, if not all, work environments.

"The suggestion that I am in revolt - or any player is in revolt - over new rules is laughable. There are no new rules of any substance that I am aware of and the vast majority of what is in the rule book was agreed years ago.

"Supporters need to know there is nothing in this story. I'm committed to the club and our objectives and I've trained all week with my team-mates who are not involved in the internationals."

Meanwhile, Friedel's team mate Robert Pires says he isn't worried about being relegated even though Villa sit just one point above the drop zone.

Pires told FIFA.com: "It's been a tough season for the club. It's never easy when you change coach during the season.

"Houllier has been trying to get his experience at Liverpool and with French football across and I'm sure we'll be fine because we are a quality side. I'm not worried. As for me, I've mainly played in cup games.

"That's been the coach's call and I have to respect it. But I know why I came to Aston Villa. I knew I wouldn't get much playing time and that my job was to be a role model for the younger players. I'm fine with that.

"I wouldn't have been so happy at 22 or 23 but I'm ok with it now. The club is well run and well respected for its long history and there is a fantastic atmosphere inside Villa Park."

Pires revealed he is paid on a match-by-match basis at Villa with a small fixed salary and was brought in primarily to pass on his experience to younger members of the squad.

He added: "The young guys watch me at training, and ask me for advice on performing at the top of the game, and how to succeed over the course of a career, stuff like that. We chat, but it's not as if I'm anyone's shrink.

"It's what Gerard Houllier asked me to do, and he made that clear right from the start. Having said that, when I'm on the bench the only thing I want to do is get on the pitch. But I knew what I was getting in to and I know what I'm doing here."

Pires also said he wants to prolong his career even if he doesn't stay at Villa beyond this season: "I'm coming to the end of my career and am determined to enjoy myself while I can.

"A lot of former players have told me they regret giving up at 32 or 33 when they could have carried on, so I have chosen to keep going for as long as I can. I'm prepared to retire in May if that's what it comes to, but I am also ready to go wherever an interesting proposition comes from, be it Qatar or the US.

"I've even had an offer from Australia. I'm still playing in the Premier League so I get noticed. People haven't forgotten about me. Anyway, one thing at a time. I'll look at that at the end of the season."

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