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Gerard Houllier Under Pressure to Save Aston Villa

There is major unrest among Aston Villa fans and Gerard Houllier is under massive pressure to lead the club to safety over the remaining weeks of the Premier League season.

The French boss has a poor record since arriving at Villa Park, with only six wins in 25 Premier League games. That form means the club now sit only one point off the relegation places and Houllier is 4/1 to be the next manager to lose his job.

Villa fans unveiled signs calling for Houllier's dismissal before Saturday's game against relegation rivals Wolves, and those calls for his head further increased after the visitors left with a 1-0 win to leave Villa sitting precariously above the drop zone.

There also remain a number of reported off-the-field problems at the club, with key players such as Richard Dunne and James Collins having bust-ups with the club's coaching staff.

All of the problems mean there remains a black cloud over Aston Villa, which only adds to the pressure on Houllier's shoulders to save the club with eight Premier League games remaining, with the bookies having Villa at 7/1 to be relegated.

Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner has told the BBC in an interview that the club's "best chance of staying up" is if they stick with Houlllier, but the team look in freefall and need to turnaround their fortunes sooner rather than later.

With the international break set for this weekend, it means Houllier and his team have until April 2nd to work at solving the off-the-field problems and increase morale throughout a fragile squad.

Their next game is a tricky tie away at Goodison Park (Everton 4/5 to win, Villa 18/5), but then Villa face five games in a row that fans could realistically expect for a good haul of points.

They face Newcastle, Stoke and Wigan at home and travel to struggling West Ham and West Brom in between. If Villa want to stay in the Premier League they need to get a lot of points on the board from these five games against teams all battling themselves in the lower half of the table.

This season's Premier League looks tighter than ever before, with only seven points the difference between 10th placed Stoke and Wigan (2/5 to be relegated) in last place. A couple of wins from any side can catapult themselves up the table and that is exactly what Villa need to aspire too.

Any team with the likes of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Darren Bent among their ranks should not struggle for goals. Those three England men are going to be the key players for Houllier over the remaining games.

There is quality among Villa's squad, but confidence is low and only results are going to turn that around and preserve their Premier League status. Houllier does not want his team to be the latest added to a list of those who were considered 'too good to go down'.

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