Houllier calls on Villa to 'adapt or die'

17 December 2010 10:50:00 EST

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier insists there is no major rebellion at the club, but stressed his players must "adapt or die" when a new manager takes over.

Villa play Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday and can be backed at 13/8 to win the match, with the hosts 7/4 and the draw available at 11/5.

Houllier has played down reports of dissent in the Villa ranks over the training methods he has implemented since replacing Martin O'Neill three months ago.

The ex-Liverpool boss is adamant there was "no incident" involving stand-in captain Richard Dunne, who was dropped for last Saturday's 2-1 home win over West Brom.

And Houllier stressed playing some of his out-of-favour senior players in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Leicester was not a punishment but to help them maintain match fitness.

He said: "I've read about dissent in the squad over training methods but it is not true. I know it is different to what it was before but it is not true and the players will adapt gradually.

"We do a lot of work with the ball, we play a lot of games, we do some tactics as well.

"Do people have to adapt to a new manager and methods? In a way, yes. You adapt or you die.

"We are changing a lot of things and that upsets the comfort of some players."

Houllier added: "I am not going to talk about the players who are dissenting and not happy. Any manager who runs a team knows the players who are playing are happy, and the players who are not playing are not happy.

"They think the methods are not good and they think the manager is not the right person but we have to live with that.

"We know that we are changing things, we know that sometimes people are whingeing and moaning but they have a fantastic job.

"They are paid high wages to play and enjoy football. This is a fantastic job and sometimes you forget that."

Houllier confirmed that Dunne's replacement, Carlos Cuellar, will again start in the Premier League encounter at Wigan.

He said: "There was no an incident with Richard Dunne. Not at all. I took a football decision not to play him and Cuellar came in and did extremely well and he will be playing against Wigan."

Asked about Dunne's reaction to being axed, Houllier said: "It is not a punishment when you play a behind-closed-doors game to help players keep their fitness.

"It is a punishment when you don't play at all, when you are left out, but I had a lot of players who either had not played for a long time or needed a game to restart like Nigel Reo-Coker.

"We wanted to have that game. We would probably have done it a week or two earlier but because of the snow we couldn't do it so it was an ideal opportunity to have it with Leicester.

"Robert Pires, John Carew, Nathan Delfouneso, Stephen Ireland; all those not involved for a long time played that game. Some we gave 70-80 minutes, others played the full game.

"It was just an ideal means of training and keeping the match fitness because the problem is the reserves don't have many games and, because of the weather, a lot of games have been called off."

Houllier also revealed he does not expect to make many signings during the January transfer window and has faith in the crop of young talent emerging at Villa.

He said: "Hopefully there will be at least one signing or two. Is that enough? We are surviving this year and also we have got some young players coming up."

Aston Villa are currently 7/1 to finish in the top six of the Barclays Premier League 2010/11, while the midland club are now 300/1 to be relegated.

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