Prediction: Expect an early signing or two from Mr Houllier in January

Gerard Houllier, making plans, about dinner and January

Even with the best intentions, to develop the football and give youth a chance, there is one thing that Gerard Houllier agreed with Randy Lerner before taking up the post of manager of Aston Villa and that was, the amount of cash he was going to get to spend in January and next summer.

Houllier wouldn't have signed on the dotted line without knowing it and while we have been conditioned into not expecting anything to happen early in the transfer window, things are about to change and it might come as a bit of a surprise to some.

You see, I think Houllier is a planner. I think he has been thinking about January for a while and maybe even before he signed on the dotted line.

And with all the best intentions, there is one player that will definitely be coming very soon, or one type of player - his midfield man.

What I'm getting at is, Houllier wasn't going to France last week to watch football, he was going to speak to people and he has already made plans. He knows who he wants to bring in and I think he knows the importance of acting quickly to get it done.

The previous manager acted quickly too when he became manager - his first signing was Petrov, his midfield man and I think Houllier will act in very much the same way, I just don't expect it to stop at the first player.

Transfer speculation

I'm only writing this because there is so little else to talk about, but I'm convinced that Houllier has money to spend and that he will be spending it very early in January or already has an agreement in place somewhere, but to bring players in, one or two are going to have to leave.

So, this isn't about press speculation about players coming, it is more about me speculating as to who is leaving and I'm thinking, much like Houllier is I hope, about January and next summer.

Expect Carew, Sidwell, Ireland, Friedel, Dunne, sadly Davies, Beye and Salifou to be replaced or let go and don't be surprised if Petrov or Reo-Coker are allowed to leave also, although from what i hear they are enjoying the new regime and are very eager to both be playing again.

That is eight players, in my mind anyway, that won't be playing for Aston Villa next season and when you take them away from the 23 man squad that we have submitted to the Premier League, which includes Robert Pires, it means the manager has ten available spaces to fill or eleven if Pires doesn't get a new contract.

Key positions

There are four key positions the manager is going to want to fill; in goal, central defence, central midfield and upfront. This isn't rocket science though, it is what we call the spine of the team and he is going to want to bring in his own men for these positions, although I suspect he might be happy with central defence.

I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these filled in January, with maybe a utility or squad player coming in also, but next summer is going to be a lot of fun.

The point in writing this; Houllier is a respected man in football. Players all over the world know him and his name carries weight. He would have plans already written up and quite possibly, he might even have handed over a list of names to Randy Lerner or Paul Faulkner, firmly putting the ball in their court.

Wigan on Saturday

But before January, we have Wigan on Saturday, then Spurs at Villa Park before ending the year at Manchester City; nine very important points. This is when some of the players, not mentioned above, are going to have to show the manager why their name shouldn't be added to that list.

The upside is, a lot of the players not mentioned, I believe are Aston Villa fans. The only worry is Ashley Young and I fancy he might have had his head turned, but I also want to believe what he told us on October 30th and we've got nothing to worry about.

After those three games, we play three games between January 2nd and 8th and if we don't have a new player in by the time we kick off that third game, against Sheffield United in the FA Cup, I'd be very surprised.

Why do I write this? Well, like I said, there is little going on, but it is also to say, if it happens the way we would all like and the way I suspect, then Houllier needs time. He needs January and he needs next summer and if he can bring the type of quality, that I believe he can, then we really will be making huge strides.

So on that note, and because I could go on and on, taking this post in other directions, I'm going to leave you to tell me about the players coming in, because I'm not looking at any of that speculation, as nine out of ten cats are made up.