Something For The Weekend (298)
So, Monsieur Hulot 'as finished is 'oliday and 'as taken the Villa job.
From Lyon to the Lions via a stint working for the FFF, which is presumably short for what the French supporters ejaculated when France exited the World Cup, amidst much 'owling and gnashing of garlicky teeth, a few months ago. Merde most 'orrid!
Où est la maison de fromage?
Monsieur H is not really what I wanted or expected and to be honest, the only person called Ger(r)ard with a Liverpool connection, whose arrival would have made me jump for joy, would have been Steven George Gerrard. Current England captain and erstwhile vehement music critic.
Monsieur 'ulot does not quite fulfil the criteria set out by the club, or seem to be quite the right person to make the best of a threadbare squad, (what's left of it) built to translate Martin O'Neill's personal football philosophy into relative Premiership and cup success.
I expected a British disciplinarian, with a record of buying cheap and selling dear. In short, I expected a good old dollop of English suet pudding not a soufflé. A rock cake, heavy enough to serve as a door stop, rather than pets de soeurs.
I was expecting a younger bloke of a known quantity, not someone who might provoke his countrymen to picket his track-suit, for defying the French retirement age, and has been cruising in a sinecure outside the Premiership for the past six years.
Has he that je ne sais quoi, or savoir faire?
Nous ne savons pas!
Monsieur Hulot's 'oliday is over - c'est la vie!
It seems that everyone has made it their business to tell the Villa fans how they should show Monsieur H a bit of respect, and say nice things about him on web sites and such. This might seem a reasonable request to make but shows a lack of insight into the Brummie mentality.
As they say in the Black Country: Yow can always tell a Brummie, but yow ca' tell him much!
But here goes.
For a start off Gerard might have an OBE (Order of Brummie Expectations) and a Légion D'honneur, but these don't mean a jot to Villa fans. For the Villa faithful, his greatest attribute which should earn him a debt of honour, is the fact that it was he and his team who were the only thing which prevented Birmingham City, from putting anything in that empty broom cupboard, they call a trophy room over at St Andrews, when his Liverpool team beat City on penalties, in the 2001 Football League Cup final.
This came a year after Villa had been beaten by Chelsea, in the FA cup final, when Villa spirits were particularly low. No one can imagine the sort of suffering the Villa fans would have had to endure, had Blues brought home their first proper League Cup trophy, that year.
We have Monsieur Houllier to thank, that they did not.
So for Villa fans who might be thinking of queuing up to touch the hem of some revered figure in a week or so, or even seeking a blessing, they might want to save their act of obeisance for their first meeting with Gerard Houllier.
He is truly worthy of it!
The powers that be need not worry, whatever catharsis takes place in the pubs, in the chat-rooms, or on the forums, Gerard Houllier will get his hearty welcome. He will get his due, because whatever doubts the fans might have, he's all they've got.
So three cheers for Monsieur Houllier - hip, hip.......
The only thing that matters is whether Gerard Houllier is the right fit for Villa. We know he is a decent manager and has signed some very decent players in his time. We know he has many qualities which have brought him honour and respect within the game. We know he has won stuff, even if the only thing that really mattered at Liverpool, eluded him.
The question is only whether he is the right man for Villa at the present time.
The thing which really has the Villa fans whistling in the dark, is whether Villa, as a club, is as ambitious, as it was a couple of seasons ago, when £48m was coughed up, to give substantial credence to the claim that they were expecting to make simultaneous realistic challenges on a number of fronts. This was even added to, which brought O'Neill's team within a couple of bad refereeing-decisions of some silverware.
Despite the reassuring flummery, all the talk recently has been about cutting wages and despite some very consoling fairytales from some astoundingly Pollyannaish Villa fans, I have yet to be convinced, that there is not something nasty lurking in the Villa woodshed, we have yet to find out about.
The papers tell us the Lerner project is a busted flush; the fans still hope otherwise and await evidence, either way.
A sign is all they need.
Watching England this week, there was plenty of evidence that James Milner is a very fine player, and despite rave reviews for Stevie G, James looked dominant and self-assured enough to suggest the fee, was not quite as inflated as some of us thought. He certainly looks more at home in an England shirt, than Gareth Barry has done recently.
Selling Milner to Man City, looked about as daft as Man United selling Rooney to Chelsea.
Rooney looked terrific as he always does when he is providing for others and is freed from the pressure to score himself. The best game I ever saw him play was when he played an identical role for United, as the reaction to similar media pressures, some years ago. Just because there is a vacancy for England icon, now that Beckham is sponsored by Oil of Olay, it does not mean he is compelled to take on the role. He should take a leaf out of Paul Scholes' book and give up all that bollocks.
Needless to say, by all accounts he's keeping his pecker up.
Apart from seeing the England midfield being populated by recent Villa sales, it was a good week to be an England fan, and it was brilliant to see Darren Bent score his first England goal. Since he exploded on the scene at Charlton, I have expected great things from him, but like many youngsters, his progress towards the top has not been a smooth ascent. Defoe looked like the new David Owen from his finishing against Bulgaria.
Capello looks safe from the media snipers until next time, but they are still determined to get him.
So this week, new chapters have opened for both England and Villa, and we can only wait to see if the story turns out to be Le Petit Prince, or Les Miserables.
In a years time Gerard will have just turned 64 and I guess we'll know by then.
Keep the faith!