McAllister: Villa have a plan
Gary McAllister insists Aston Villa already have contingency plans in place to cope with manager Gerard Houllier's absence from the club while he recovers from a heart problem.
Houllier will be discharged from hospital in the next 24 hours, just eight days after being admitted suffering from chest pains. The Frenchman, who had major heart surgery while in charge of Liverpool, is almost certain not to return to Villa in an active role this season.
A significant question mark still remains over whether Houllier will be back at all given his medical history even though McAllister is positive that will eventually happen. But the caretaker boss is adamant the wheels will still be in motion at Villa as far as dealing with attracting new signings, players leaving and those who are currently out of contract.
"All these things that from the outside we seem to have to deal with over the next few weeks, we've been looking through already," McAllister said. "Of course, it would be better if Gerard was here, but everything is in place for things to move on. Whether it be attracting new players, or players coming to the end of their contract, a lot of decisions have already been made.
"There is a plan to move forward which is already there."I agree with people who say the upheaval is unneeded, but as a group we've become very close with the chairman [Randy Lerner] and chief executive [Paul Faulkner]," McAllister added. As much as it would be ideal if Gerard was here, it can be done from his home because we're down the line on a few things.
"I don't have to give anything away, but I'm talking about people that might want to come here, people we want to try and attract here, people that want to stay, people that might have to find a club. We know the positions where we are strong, but we also know where we need to strengthen. It's ongoing and you've got to be like that, you've got to be prepared to go into the market and get these deals through."
McAllister has been delighted at the progress Houllier has made during the past week which has given him cause for optimism about his future. However, he accepts Houllier will ultimately make that decision.
"That will be after he speaks to friends, family and people he respects, but most importantly, the doctors."Can Houllier return to management? That's the big question down the line," said McAllister. There's no rush to be made on that decision. I'm sure he'll be recovering over here where there will be people on hand to deal with any queries.
"If he's given the green light to go and gets some warmer weather if it helps, I don't know. He'll be guided by the experts."