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Houllier expected to leave Aston Villa

Aston Villa will search for their third manager in the space of two seasons after it emerged that Gerard Houllier's time in charge of the Birmingham club is set to come to a premature end due to health problems.

The former Liverpool manager lasted just nine months in the Villa job before a heart condition saw him replaced in a caretaker capacity by his assistant Gary McAllister.

McAllister had made it clear during interviews that he expected Houllier to return to the job, but the Frenchman previously suffered from cardiac complications during his time at Liverpool and his family are keen for him to walk away from the stresses of management.

Houllier struggled to win over Villa fans and his team looked to be in free fall at Christmas. Relegation to the Championship seemed a very real possibility until the arrival of Darren Bent from Sunderland for £24 million in January.

Wins over Arsenal and Liverpool in the last two games of the season saw Villa finish in ninth place, but it was McAllister and not Houllier who was in charge of the first team at that point.

With two thirds of Houllier's £8 million contract still to run, Villa's owner Randy Lerner - who has just paid £5 million to former club manager Martin O'Neill - will be hoping that a compromise can be reached over a possible severance package.

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