Houllier's still at the drawing board at Villa
Jonny's Soccermongery site
While Villa extended their unbeaten run to seven against Birmingham City, there wasn't much ease about our game.
Part of it was down to the tactics of Alex McLeish, who very effectively stopped Stewart Downing and Ashley Young's flow in midfield.
But it was mostly about Gerard Houllier's inability to stamp his authority on the club. He's preparing and fielding Martin O'Neill's squad. Houllier has to fashion Villa to his mould.
A goalless draw is probably a fair reflection of a game full of bluster and effort, but there were no thoroughbreds in this derby.
Blues had a penalty claim, so did Villa. Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan, Ashley Young and Nigel Reo-Coker might've snatched it.
Houllier is not yet a big figure at Villa Park. He needs to impress his personality on the club for the team to rise again.
Saying things like we 'will finish somewhere between seventh and twelfth' hardly echoes around the halls of Villa Park like the words of Churchill. And he's repeated that phrase.
All this after inheriting the baton from Martin O'Neill, who steered Villa to three sixth-placed finishes in a row.
Villa need to maintain the momentum of the last few years if we're to keep pace with Spurs and Manchester City. Liverpool's stunning decline affords clubs like these a great opportunity to gatecrash the Big Four Party.
Villa should take the initiative but it starts with Houllier cutting a bigger figure.