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Houllier stands up to rival bosses after stinging jibes

Gerard Houllier has accused fellow Premier League manager Steve Bruce and Ian Holloway of victimising him because he is foreign and "an easy target", and advising them to move with the times regarding how transfer deals are done in the modern game.

Houllier had remained dignified this week as Bruce and Holloway made scathing public appraisals of the 63-year-old following his £24m purchase of Darren Bent on Tuesday, and his attempt to take Charlie Adam from Blackpool.

But Houllier yesterday challenged his detractors to make an official complaint if they had evidence of wrongdoing, and blamed Bruce and Holloway of ganging up on him because of his nationality.

"Don't worry," he said. "I'm a foreign manager. I'm an easy target.

"If I call (Bruce), and say, 'I'm interested in your centre-forward', and he says, 'No way, no chance', then it will go in the press that Gerard Houllier is trying to disrupt. We did things right between the owners.

"There used to be a time when a manager would call another manager and say: 'I will buy your player for so much money'. Now you are not the owner any more, the club is a different entity."

Bent will make his debut today against Manchester City, with Roberto Mancini backing Villa to "improve a lot" because of Bent's arrival. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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Irish Independent