Friday 15 December 2017

Houllier hopes to hold on to new captain Reo-Coker

Gerard Houllier has hailed new Aston Villa captain Nigel Reo-Coker as "an example for the rest of the team" as he revealed his desire for the midfielder to stay long term.

Reo-Coker has temporarily been given the captain's armband by Houllier in the absence of Stiliyan Petrov, who will be out for up to two months with knee ligament damage.

Former West Ham man Reo-Coker is out of contract in the summer but Houllier wants him to extend his stay and talks have already taken place.

Houllier, whose side entertain Burnley in the Carling Cup tonight, said: "We will try to keep Nigel. If he wants to go elsewhere, he will go elsewhere. A contract doesn't mean a lot anyway.

"But the situation is this: he has played practically every game while I have been in charge and his performances are getting better and better.


"He plays for the team, he plays a role where you have to be unselfish and work hard for the team and sometimes fill different positions.

"I know what he is capable of doing and he does it well. His attitude is perfect. He is an example for the rest. He has got personality and I like that."

Houllier stressed the importance for all players to be focused solely on football if they are to make the most of their talent.

He said: "If you've got 100pc focus, you've got a chance. If you go off track, go out, booze, go to nightclubs etc, it does not help.

"You've got to live for the job. The career of a player between 20 and 30 is different from most people.

"Other people can have a job -- and work and the job allows them to take some holiday, maybe buy a house, maybe buy a car.

"Football is different. You can have everything right away. Other people enjoy their job and live outside of the job. The players have got to live for their job.

"This is why sometimes there are marriage breaks, because they marry young girls, girls that want to go out.

"But the life of the player who plays every three days has got to be about being at home, putting his feet up and maybe watching the TV.


"If you love football you've got to live for football for 10 years at least. That will lengthen your career.

"They can enjoy life afterwards, become maybe TV pundits because management is too difficult a job."

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (groin), Petrov and right-back Luke Young (hamstring) will all be unavailable tonight, but midfielder Steve Sidwell is poised to make a rare start.

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