I received a text message at 1.34am today that told me Gerard Houllier was sacked after a meeting with Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner in Manchester. This text message, you won't be surprised to learn, got my attention, so I got off the sofa and went into my office.
After switching on my monitors, printer, PC and laptop (it's something I do when I go into my office when everything is off), I checked the club site, the comments on this site and a few other sites and found nothing to make me think Gerard Houllier was sacked, was asked to step down or had handed in his resignation. I then climbed the stairs to bed.
Before I go any further, I'd like to thank the person that sent the text message, you know who you are, because had you not sent it, I would have woken up this morning with a stiff back and in a bad mood. Because of you, I didn't. My wife thanks you too.
The reason I am posting this, late on a Thursday, or is it Wednesday, is because I'd just like to say that Gerard Houllier is our manager, he hasn't resigned and he hasn't been sacked or told he has X games to save his job, or said he wants to leave.
I put the above in a little box because this is from the club. It isn't from a person in the PR office, because you should know I'm not friends with people in the PR office, or someone from the ticket office. This is from a person at the club, that will remain nameless, but is a very important part of the club, who is on a very regular basis, dealing with very important things on a footballing and commercial basis.
If it turns out that Houllier is sacked or resigns tomorrow or the next couple of weeks, I will do a screen dump of the email and show you where I got this, but I don't expect this to happen and actually, what I expect, is something completely different.
The club have told me tonight that they are supporting the manager; are we going to fight the club?
Even the biggest Houllier cynic will admit that the football has changed in the last three months, so isn't it fair to assume that after he has brought in his own players, that play the way he wants the football to be played, that the football will change further?
You'd have to be a mad man to disagree with that and you'd have to live on cloud cuckoo land to think that it might not get better. The truth however, is that it might not, but it might and as of right now, all things point to the positive. If I need to explain why, read the above again and again, until the penny drops.
Bottom line, if we all think it isn't going to change and get better, it wont, because we will put too much pressure on the players and failure will be the result.
What I expect is support and I feel, in a little way, as if I'm in a position to ask for it. I feel as if I can, because I shouted from the hill tops to get O'Leary sacked two seasons before he went and I started shouting from the hill tops about the football under O'Neill at the start of his third season.
I think I can ask for support, because you should all know, when it does start to go horribly wrong (it isn't going horribly wrong yet), I'll once again shout it from the hill tops. But Houllier needs January and a few months. He needs a transfer window and a pre-season. He needs a proper chance.
Behaviour breeds behaviour
So, we have two options. We either support the club and all that the club are trying to do - three months in with a new manager, or we don't. What camp are you in?
You might be in the camp that certain players are rumoured to be in, namely, Habib Beye, John Carew, Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland, but none of these players are Aston Villa fans or even, really, connected with Aston Villa.
Or, you could be in the camp that loves Aston Villa. I'm in this camp and I see that Gerard Houllier has only had three months, that the football is changing, that he has a transfer window coming up and all I'm reading are these fantastic rumours of some very exciting players coming to our club.
If it all goes wrong
Gerard Houllier signed a short term contract to be manager of Aston Villa. This could be because the club see him as an interim manager and they have their eye on someone else, or it could be that Houllier said he didn't want to commit to a long-term contract before fully knowing what he was getting himself into.
It could also be that Gerard and the club have a master plan, that involves Houllier setting the footballing foundations (something he has done in France) and him finding the next Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson to take over from him in two years.
It could be any number of reasons but the truth is, whatever I or anyone else writes about the length of his contract or him as manager, it is pure speculation.
What I'm trying to say is, that if after the January transfer window and the addition of the three or four players that we need, the results don't start to turn in our favour or the football doesn't improve further, I'll be the first to say he has to go, but only after he has had a real, honest, opportunity.
As it stands today, he has had three months and he is having to manage with what the last manager left him, as well as a series of injuries to senior players. Give him January and give him a real chance.