GERARD Houllier has warned Aston Villa’s soon-to-be out-of-contract players there is fat chance of them becoming complacent if they are given new deals.
Houllier likes to take his time before deciding to give his stars pay-rises in case their bodies as well as their bank balances start piling on the pounds.
Villa have a number of players with contracts ticking down with John Carew, Nigel Reo-Coker and Brad Friedel’s deals expiring at the end of the season.
Houllier insists that even when they have agreed wage hikes and extended stays, professional footballers must still strive to improve under his guidance and not get too big for their boots.
“You have to be careful when you give good contracts to players,” he said.
“You don’t want a player, once he has a contract, to get back into a sort of comfort zone, put a bit of weight on sometimes and not work as much.
“You have to make sure the contract is not the end in itself. It must be the start of a fighting experience to win things for the club.
“If you give a contract to a player it means you trust him for the future. I just want fighters.
“I want players who are very hungry for success and not players who just think ‘feet up’ and relax. That’s all.
“You do need a bit of talent - you won’t change a donkey into a horse if you don’t have the attributes in terms of speed and skill.
“But this job is also about being 100 per cent focused, then you have a chance.
“If you go off the track, get out, booze, nightclubs, then you can imagine .... they have to live for the job.”
Houllier insists that the very best players are motivated more by winning and being successful than merely making as much money as possible.
“A player who likes football is too unhappy when he does not play,” he added. “You can give him all the money he wants, but a player wants to play.
“Obviously a club is not about 11 players, but when you have a good club, good environment, people trusting you, you work on a daily basis to improve, to progress, then sometimes you get your reward.”