Houllier: Villa are united

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.”