Burnley take on Preston in big derby game live on the BBC – see the best match betting (Sat 5.15pm BBC2)

Aston Villa have confirmed the appointment of Gerard Houllier as their new manager.

The club have been without a permanent boss since Martin O’Neill resigned just days before the start of the new season, with Kevin MacDonald taking over on a temporary basis.

They have now secured the 63-year-old’s services after he was freed from his role with the French Football Federation.

Having worked as National Coaching Director with the FFF since 2007, Houllier’s return to club management has come as something of surprise.

Nevertheless, he worked in England with Liverpool between 1998 and 2004, and has been in charge of France, Paris St Germain and Lyon.

“I am very happy and proud to join this great and historic club,” he said.

“It was a very difficult decision for me to leave the FFF, but I could not turn down the opportunity to manage a club whose approach, both on and off the pitch, I have long admired.

“Aston Villa is one of England’s biggest clubs and has an amazing set of fans.

“This is a tremendous challenge and one I am very much looking forward to taking on.”

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner is confident Houllier can take the club forward and has asked the fans to give him their backing.

He told the club’s official website: “Two of the key qualities we identified as being of crucial importance were experience of managing in the Premier League and a strategy for building on the existing strengths in our current squad.

“Gerard Houllier comfortably satisfies these criteria. In fact, he stands out as a football man who understands the ethos of our club and shares our core values.

“We look forward to working with Gerard and supporting him.

“We ask our supporters to get behind the new manager and the team as we look to build on the progress we have made over the past four years in all areas of the club.”

Burnley take on Preston in big derby game live on the BBC – see the best match betting (Sat 5.15pm BBC2)

Make sure you don’t miss any of the last news and articles from World Soccer. Subscribe to World Soccer today and take advantage of our all 50th anniversary offer, saving up to 50%!