Home > Aston Villa, Football, France, houllier, Liverpool, manager, Premiership, Soccer > Gerard Houllier makes return to the Premiership with Aston Villa

Gerard Houllier makes return to the Premiership with Aston Villa


Houllier won a cup treble with Liverpool in 2001

It is being reported that French coach Gerard Houllier will return to Premiership management with Aston Villa on a two-year contract.

Houllier left Liverpool after a successful spell which included the club winning the treble of the FA, League and UEFA Cups in 2001. However his reign was soured by critics of his perceived negative football and when he left after six seasons Liverpool were nowhere near to winning the Premiership.

Houllier joined Liverpool as joint-manager in a disastrous spell with Roy Evans in July 1998. He would later take sole control after Evans left four months after the French man arrived at the club. Together with assistant Phil Thompson, Liverpool began to enjoy some success for the first time in years and was responsible for bringing in Liverpool legends like Dietmar Hamann, Gary McAllister and Sami Hyypia. However he was also responsible for expensive flops including El Hadj Diouf, Bruno Cheyrou and Igor Bišćan.

Houllier was known as a charming manager and one that is affectionately remembered by staff at Liverpool and a lot of fans, however Aston Villa supporters will be aware that while he failed to bring league success to Liverpool, he also failed to enthral the crowds with the style of football often lacking imagination and exciting players like Jari Litmanen under-utilised and not given a chance to shine.

Houllier won back-to-back league titles with Lyon after leaving Liverpool but has since been criticised as part of the French Football Federation that has overseen the country’s disastrous spell at the World Cup.

At Aston Villa the pressure will be less intense. Villa fans won’t expect the league title and won’t even expect a top-four finish necessarily, but with players like Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Steven Ireland, the fans will at least expect attractive football.

Friedel was frozen out by Houllier at Liverpool

Houllier’s influence will be interesting to see on players he axed at Liverpool like Brad Friedel and Steven Warnock who were both rejected by the French man before becoming international players and in Friedel’s case, one of the league’s best goalkeepers. Houllier was also the man who signed Emile Heskey for Liverpool and persisted with him despite his lack of goals.

However the main issue to be determined is the role of current caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald. It has been speculated that MacDonald will be made assistant which will be a blow to the man who hoped to land the job permanently. Houllier is also known to want to bring Phil Thompson in as his number two.

Houllier will inherit a good squad in a league that is far more competitive than when he left. He faces a big challenge, but a proven cup record could be an advantage in attempting to bring silverware back to Villa Park.

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