Houllier: Villa are united

Gerard Houllier insists he has not lost control of the Aston Villa dressing room amid reports of in-fighting.

The Frenchman has endured a difficult opening to his reign at Villa Park, with events on and off the field conspiring against him.

A 2-1 victory over local rivals West Brom on Saturday helped to paper over some of the cracks, but there remain a number of issues outstanding.

Midfielder Stephen Ireland has been frozen out since Houllier took charge and reports suggest he is to hold showdown talks regarding his future.

James Collins has been warned as to his future conduct after breaking a curfew and John Carew has clashed with his manager through the press.

It was also claimed over the weekend that commanding centre-half Richard Dunne was involved in a heated exchange with assistant manager Gary McAllister, causing friction in the camp.

Houllier, though, has attempted to play down reports of unrest and claims the Villa squad remains united in their efforts to overcome a recent wobble.

"I can control the players. If we hadn’t lost 3-0 at Liverpool, none of this would be talked about," he said.

"No-one would be talking about the manager, who did what and players being seen late at night.

"A manager always thinks the players are behind him. I know players not playing are not happy but it’s important they are united for the club and for the fans."