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Houllier shakes on deal to be Villa boss

Gerard Houllier will become only the second non-British or Irish manager in Aston Villa's history when he is named as Martin O'Neill's successor.

Houllier is poised to become the club's 25th manager as the month-long search to find a replacement for O'Neill comes to an end.

He is understood to have shaken hands on a three-year deal with Villa's American owner, Randy Lerner.

Houllier has spoken to the French Football Federation, for whom he has been working as technical director, to tell them of his intentions.

The 63-year-old and Villa have still to sort out what are being regarded as "minor details" but Houllier is expected to be presented to the media tomorrow or Friday.

Czech coach Jozef Venglos experienced an ill-fated 12-month spell in charge two decades ago when Villa narrowly avoided relegation from the top flight, the only other time the club have not recruited a 'foreign' coach.

It will represent the end of a six-year exile from the Premier League for Houllier since his reign at Liverpool came to an end in May 2004.

He is set to be named as Villa's fifth manager of the new millennium after John Gregory, Graham Taylor, David O'Leary and O'Neill.

Houllier's first match in charge will be the away Premier League clash with Stoke on Monday.

However, it now seems unlikely Houllier's former Liverpool number two, Phil Thompson, will follow him to Villa Park.

Ex-schoolteacher Houllier has been in management for 37 years and his clubs have included Lens, Paris St Germain and, after leaving Anfield, a two-year stint at Lyon, where he won two league titles.

He joined Liverpool in July 1998 and won the UEFA Cup, two League Cups, an FA Cup and a European Super Cup during his near six years at the Reds' helm.

Houllier, who has an honorary OBE for his services to British football, suffered heart problems during the end of his term with the Reds.

But the 63-year-old looked in prime condition when seen at Jamie Carragher's testimonial on Saturday.

It is still to be decided what role the current caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald -- an ex-Liverpool player -- will have in the proposed new regime at the West Midlands club.

He has been successful as reserve team coach but may be offered a post as part of the first-team set-up.