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*Age on opening day of the season
FAC: FA Cup; FL: Football League; D1: Division 1; D2: Division 2; D3: Division 3; PL: Premier League; CH: Championship
Gérard Paul Francis Houllier
3 September 1947
French Football Federation, Technical Director
Kevin MacDonald (Caretaker)
Gary McAllister (Caretaker)
2005-18 Gabby Agbonlahor |
2006-12 Stiliyan Petrov |
2006-11 Ashley Young |
2009-15 Fabian Delph |
Chairman, Randolph Lerner
Chief Executive, Paul Faulkner
14 December 2020, aged 73.
Previous Clubs Managed
1973-76 Le Touquet AC, Player Manager
1976-82 Nœux-les-Mines, Manager
1982-85 RC Lens, Manager
1985-88 Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Manager
1988-92 France, Assistant Manager
1992-93 France, Manager
1994-96 France Under 18s, Manager
1996-97 France Under 20s, Manager
1998 Liverpool, Joint Manager
1998-04 Liverpool, Manager
2005-07 Olympique Lyonnais, Manager
2007-10 France, Technical Director
1985-86 Division 1, France, Paris Saint-Germain F.C.
2000-01 FA Cup, Liverpool
2000-01 UEFA Cup, Liverpool
2000-01 League Cup, Liverpool
2002-03 League Cup, Liverpool
2005-06 Ligue 1, Olympique Lyonnais
2006-07 Ligue 1, Olympique Lyonnais
Villa Management Career
Points per game
Managed the Villa
Villa Managerial Debut
22 September 2010, League Cup, Villa 3-1 Blackburn, Villa Park
Final Villa Managerial Game
16 April 2011, Villa 2-1 West Ham, Upton Park
2010-11 | 9th Premier League | (Part Season) |
FA Cup finishes
2010-11 | 5th Round |
League Cup finishes
2010-11 | 5th Round |
Manager #25 for Aston Villa, Gérard Houllier. Randy Lerner’s first managerial appointment was a fine one, justifiably lauded at the time, delivering three successive top six finishes before imploding in spectacularly selfish fashion. Martin O’Neill and Randy Lerner had looked a match made in heaven only to become a toxic and poisonous millstone around Villa’s neck.
O’Neill’s ultimately selfish actions left Villa in the lurch but what few had realised and appreciated was the paucity of the Villa boardroom and the lack of talent therein which let the disappointment of O’Neill’s selfish denouement become an unmitigated disaster.
A talented Villa executive hierarchy, could and should have had a plan of action for replacing a known combustible head coach. They didn’t and Villa descended into a chaos they had no right to.
Perennial caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald - yet to be revealed as an alleged bully of the youth team ranks - oversaw an opening day 3-0 win but soon saw him deliver a crushing defeat away to Newcastle that illustrated just how rudderless Villa had become.
Despite his obvious incompatibility MacDonald offered himself up as a permanent replacement for O’Neill whilst the board scraped the very lowest of the managerial barrel by interviewing the likes of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Alan Curbishley.
Incredulously, ex Villa midfielder Curbishley thought he was to be the new manger recalling “I was really disappointed that I didn’t get it, because when I met Randy Lerner I thought it was very close.“ That Curbishley had never managed a big club and had a woeful reputation and been out of the game for a significant period of time didn’t appear to worry the Villa board and it set in motion the direction in which Villa would head.
That direction would be the equally unlikely - and long time out of the managerial ‘game’ - Gérard Houllier.
At this point it was blatantly obvious that the Villa hierarchy had no idea what they were doing. MacDonald, Eriksson, Curbishley and Houllier was stepping back, at best a decade, at worst to disaster.
Lerner and his CEO Faulkner, equally inexperienced and unsuccessful in the football world appointed Houllier and accepted his dismissive and insulting assertion that he was too busy to take up his new role until later in September 2010. By that point Villa’s direction had been set and cast.
Houllier was hopeless, insulting but overall extremely lucky. That ‘his’ side finished 9th bears no relation to on field performance. That he installed the culture of a ‘bomb squad’ to ostracise first team players. That he continually operated a them and us approach, with the us often being his former club Liverpool. That he either failed to recognise or refused to acknowledge the club’s heritage. That he failed to complete a season he had willingly delayed starting. That he suffered from the ill-health he had claimed would not preclude him from his candidacy. All in Houllier was not the man for Villa and Villa was not for the likes of Houllier.
With any passing of an individual, retrospectives will always be kind, yet Houllier was out of his depth with Villa and should not have been appointed. That he was ostensibly the best of an appalling bunch does not excuse the myopic, badly planned and badly executed actions of the Villa hierarchy.
Houllier was another O’Leary yet with a greater level of vindictiveness. Brad Friedel suffered from their previous relationship. As did Stephen Warnock. Even Stiliyan Petrov, the most mild mannered and committed of men, fell foul of Houllier’s autocracy. Gabby Agbonlahor lost his way under Houllier after he was told to change his physique - akin to a layman telling a golf pro to change his swing to something he happens to prefer. Perhaps the most jarring however was the treatment of Stephen Ireland.
Ireland was signed as a makeweight in the deal that took James Milner to Manchester City, and although he was a talented player he was far too flawed to be a success at the top level. The onus however was on the Villa hierarchy to bring the best out of him. Imagine the picture then Ireland signing the papers to his contract and staying at The Belfry Hotel down the road from Bodymoor Heath ahead of his first day training only to see that O’Neill had quit.
In Ireland’s own retelling: “Some of the things that happen to me are absolutely nuts. Houllier came in and it was like, ‘You’re a very good player but I didn’t sign you so I don’t want you here’.”
“It baffles me how that guy has ever got a football job, and it scares me. It makes me think that I could easily be a manager if he’s doing it. My gardener could easily be a manager if he’s got a job, I thought he was that bad.”
Despite his admitted bias that is the most damning of indictment of Villa’s chosen manager and few disagreed, apart from that is the Villa board.
The lamentable CEO Paul Faulkner claimed “[Houllier’s] plans were very exciting. Together we would have executed it. It could have been a Sliding Doors moment for the club.”
Notwithstanding the nonsensical Sliding Doors reference which carries no logical relevance, amongst Houllier’s exciting plans was a comfy job as director of football and the appointment of the roundly unpopular Gary McAllister as Villa boss. 10 years later McAllister has still yet to hold any managerial position at any club at any level since leaving Villa. “Exciting”
Unsurprisingly, the last remnants of talent from the O’Neill era either left or were forced out of the club following their experience and treatment at the hands of Houllier. Villa lost Ashley Young and Stewart Downing and left record signing Darren Bent without a creative support structure that his footballing limitations so desperately required. Villa were truly without any cohesive strategy or leadership and having inherited an avoidable disaster from the self interest of Martin O’Neill, doubled down on mediocrity and mismanagement that rendered Villa unrecognisable from 12 months previously.
Gérard passed away in Paris aged 73 on 14 December 2020.