Aston Villa finally named their new boss after 30 days of Kevin MacDonald fumbling around in the managers seat. Former reds boss Gerard Houllier takes charge at Villa Park, I must admit it I was shocked when I first heard the rumours that Houllier was linked to the Villa job. Does Houllier really need the stress of the Premier League again after a 5 year break from England?
Some fans criticise his reign as Liverpool boss, but these people have short memories and tend to dwell on the final few months of his 6 year tenure. When appointed joint boss with Roy Evans it was obvious it was a matter of time before the ill-fated partnership would split and see Houllier take sole charge, an over hauling of the club’s youth policy and Melwood training complex was put into motion. In 2001 Liverpool went on to win an unlikely Cup treble, Gerard also signed the likes of Hyypia, Hamaan, Gary Mac and Smicer not forgetting giving captain Stevie Gerrard his first taste of first team football.
Houllier was well liked by his players, fans and the media and I will never forget he nearly died for the club in October 2001 during the home game against Leeds. It was a shocking sight to see a gaunt, fragile Houllier back on the touchline for the Roma game, still the comeback was perfect as Liverpool beat Roma by two clear goals and qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
It all went wrong when a combined £20m was spent on the likes of Salif Diao, Bruno Cheyrou and the vulgar El Hadji Diouf (how he is still playing premiership football baffles me). The writing was soon on the wall, the 5 year plan had failed to yield the League Title and his reign has certain parallels with his successor Rafa Benitez.
I will always respect Gerard Houllier for his passion, committment and the cup treble of 2001, we had some truly memorable moments as Liverpool fans under Houllier and im sure Villa fans will have too.