Gérard Houllier

Gérard Houllier

Football manager infobox
playername = Gérard Houllier
fullname = Gérard Houllier

dateofbirth = birth date and age|1947|9|3
cityofbirth = Thérouanne
countryofbirth = France
nickname = Gerry
currentclub = | position = Defensive Midfielder
youthyears = 1959-1968
youthclubs = Hucqueliers
years = 1968-1969
clubs = Liverpool Alsop
Le Touquet Athletic Club
caps(goals) =

132 (27)
manageryears = 1973-1976
managerclubs = Le Touquet Athletic Club
US Noeux-les-Mines
RC Lens
Paris St-Germain
Liverpool (joint with Roy Evans)
Olympique Lyonnais

Gérard Houllier, OBE, (IPA2|ʒeʁaʁ ulje, born 3 September, 1947, in Thérouanne, Pas-de-Calais, France) is a football manager. His past clubs include Paris Saint-Germain, RC Lens and Liverpool, with whom he won the UEFA Cup in 2001. He then guided Olympique Lyonnais to two French titles, before announcing his resignation on May 25 2007. He also coached the French national team between 1992 and 1993.

Houllier is renowned as one of the most knowledgeable people in the game. [cite web|title =Kop's at the Crossroads| publisher= The Sun (UK)| url=http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/article185619.ece|] [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20020113/ai_n9626813] He assisted Aimé Jacquet in the 1998 World Cup. Houllier was part of UEFA's and FIFA's Technical Committee, in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals. In January 2008, he was linked to the vacant manager's position at Newcastle United [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/n/newcastle_united/7189443.stm BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Newcastle United | Houllier cool on Newcastle link ] ] , a position later filled by Kevin Keegan.

Playing career

Houllier entered Lille University to pursue a degree in English, but in the first year his father's serious illness forced him to drop out of full-time study and start work, eventually as a schoolteacher, while he completed his degree part-time. As part of his degree, he elected to spend a year in 1969-1970 in Liverpool as an Assistant at Alsop Comprehensive School, and while there he attended his first Liverpool F.C. match on 16 September 1969 — a 10-0 thrashing of the Irish side, Dundalk F.C.

He was a natural football player, and at the time French football was a mixture of amateur and professional players. Although he had become deputy headmaster of the École Normale d'Arras, at the age of 26 in 1973 he began his full-time managerial career as player-manager of Le Touquet.


Houllier later moved to Arras as youth coach, and Noeux-les-Mines as Head Coach where he won two consecutive promotions into the French Second Division before moving to Lens in 1982. He took the Lens team to promotion and qualification for the UEFA Cup before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 1985, and PSG won the French title the following year.

In 1988 Houllier was appointed technical director and assistant to the French national team, under manager Michel Platini. He became manager in 1992, though resigning in 1993 after the team failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup - which Houllier blamed afterwards on winger David Ginola failing to complete a pass to Eric Cantona to score. Houllier became an extremely unpopular figure in France, being blamed not only for the failure to qualify, but also for the poor results during Platini's tenure (Platini still being popular enough that the public were reluctant to blame him directly). However, he remained with the team as a technical director. In 1998 France won the World Cup and Houllier's contribution was recognised with the award of a special medal.


In 1998, Houllier was invited to become joint team manager (together with Roy Evans) of Liverpool Football Club. However the arrangement did not work well and Evans resigned a few months later, leaving Houllier in sole charge of the team.

Houllier began what he described as a five-year programme to rebuild the team, starting in 1999. That Summer Paul Ince, David James, Jason Mcateer, Rob Jones and Steve Harkness were all sold, while Steve Mcmanaman left on a free. At the same time seven new players, including Sami Hyypia, Dietmar Hammann, Stephane Henchoz, Vladimir Smicer, Sander Westerveld and Djimi Traore, were all signed. Also, Liverpools training facilities at Melwood were thourouly overhauled.

Houllier cleared out the "Spice Boys" - a term coined by Liverpudlian journalists to describe Paul Ince and his followers including Robbie Fowler, David James, Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and Jason Mcateer, as underachieving playboys in the game. [cite web | title = Football: Houllier pays the price for failure to live up to | publisher = The London Independent| date= 2007 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20040525/ai_n12779706/pg_1 | accessdate =2008-01-23 ] [ cite web | title= Jamie Redknapp Interview with Brunei Times date = 2007 | url = http://www.bt.com.bn/en/sport/2007/09/09/spice_boy_finally_grows_up | publisher = Brunei Times| accessdate=2008-01-23 ] To replace the players he did not see eye to eye with, Houllier engaged the services of a clutch of continental players from overseas, mainly from France. However due to his eventual lack of success to adaquately compete with the elite premiership teams this plan was famously mocked 6 years later by director (and potential club buyer at the time), Steve Morgan, who described Liverpool as being in the 6th year of a 5 year plan. [cite web | title=Simon MULLOCK: How can Moores choose to sell to a United fan over| publisher=Sunday Mirror|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20040516/ai_n12894916|]

Stephane Henchoz and Sami Hyypiä formed a promising partnership at the back. Houllier's aim was to finish second or third in the league, but after a humiliating last day defeat to relegation threatened Bradford City, Liverpool ended up in fourth place, securing only a UEFA Cup place. Leeds United instead took the last Champions League spot.

Restructuring a competitive team took a couple of years but eventually resulted in the successful 2000-01 season, when Liverpool won the Worthington Cup (League Cup), the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup as well as finishing third in the English Premier League. However, this achievement was somewhat harshly labelled the "Mickey Mouse Treble", as it consisted of the three lesser trophies (the League Cup, which was used by most top teams to blood youth players; the UEFA cup, which is viewed as a secondary competition overshadowed by the Champions League; and the FA Cup, which had in recent years diminished in importance with the rise in popularity of the Premiership and Champions League). This was particularly mocked by Manchester United fans, who gloatingly compared it to Manchester United's famous Treble of the 1998-99 season, when the club won the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League, this in spite of the fact that Manchester United continues to live in the shadow of Liverpool in terms of silverware, especially at the European level. [ cite web | title = Liverpool's spirits lifted by Murphy| Houllier's Liverpool added further shine to their treble achievement by winning the FA Community Shield (against Manchester United) and UEFA Super Cup (against Bayern Munich). Ironically Manchester United failed to win either following their treble achievement of 1999. url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2002/01/22/sfgman23.xml| publisher= Daily Telegraph| ]

In October 2001, after falling ill at half-time of Liverpool's Premier League match with Leeds United, Houllier was rushed to hospital for an eleven-hour emergency operation when he suffered a dissected aorta. In his absence, caretaker manager Phil Thompson guided Liverpool to their best premiership season. Houllier returned to active management of the club after five months, but many Liverpool fans felt that he was never quite as effective a manager afterwards [ [http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/02/02/is_negative_houllier_about_to.html Is negative Houllier about to blow Lyon's European hopes again? | Sport | Guardian Unlimited ] ] . The beginning of the end was perceived to be his decision to substitute a fit Dietmar Hamann, and bring on Vladimir Smicer away to Bayer Leverkusen in a UEFA Champions' League quarter-final. In a game balanced 1-1 with Bayer requiring 2 goals to win, Houllier took off the defensive midfielder and exposed the defence to endless attacks. Bayer were lifted by the German's exit as Smicer did little to help the defenceFact|date=February 2007. Houllier's unsuccessful summer signings of 2002, namely El-Hadji Diouf (Lens 10 million), Salif Diao (Sedan 5 million) and Bruno Cheyrou (Lille 4 million), and his failure to make Nicolas Anelka's loan move permanent was blamed for the club failing to build on an impressive second place in 2002. Pundits have commented that Houllier's failure to replace creative talents such as Gary McAllister and Jari Litmanen was a main factor in Liverpool's poor performance in the 2002-03 season [cite web| title = Graham Kelly: Houllier suffering in the shadow of Shankly and Paisley| publisher= The London Independent| url=http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/graham-kelly-houllier-suffering-in-the-shadow-of-shankly-and-paisley-570904.html.
] [ cite web| title= Football: Houllier pays the price for failure to live up to| Publisher= London Independent| url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20040525/ai_n12779706/pg_2| ] A lack of success in later seasons when Liverpool struggled to qualify for the Champions League despite very substantial investment in players, coupled with what was perceived as negative one-dimensional tactics and unattractive football, a poor youth policy, his constant comments of "turning corners" [http://robots.cnnsi.com/soccer/news/2003/01/28/uk_rdp/] , and a lack of support from fans [http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,1095177,00.html] led to Houllier's departure from Liverpool F.C. on 24 May, 2004 [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/football.html?in_article_id=304009&in_page_id=1779] . He left by mutual consent with the club.

Youth policy

Much of Houllier's youth policy was based on bringing in what he regarded as the best that France had to offer - after all, before he joined Liverpool, he was Head of Technical development of the French F.A., and so knew all the youth players. His purchases included most of France's 2006 winning Under21 European Cup team, including "French Gems" Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle. He also claimed many of his signings are the "next Zidane" like Igor Bišćan, Bruno Cheyrou and Anthony Le Tallec. But most proved too slow mentally for the speed and physical presence of the English game, or just did not develop physically, in stark contrast to the quality of young talent Arsène Wenger was bringing in at that time at Arsenal.fact|date=January 2008

Houllier's last purchase was Djibril Cissé, who arrived after Houllier departed for the sum of £14million and proved to be perhaps the most promising amongst a number of dubious signingsFact|date=August 2007. Although he was out for most of the first season with a broken leg, during the 2005-06 season, Cissé finished Liverpool's second highest goalscorer with 19 in all competitions, 6 scored in Champions League qualifiers, 2 in the European Super Cup and 9 in the Premiership, as well as Liverpool's first goal in their FA Cup victory in May 2006. After an alleged bust-up with manager Rafael Benítez, Cissé was loaned out to Olympique Marseille for the 2006/07 season. On 30 August, 2006 Florent Sinama-Pongolle left Liverpool for a loan season with Recreativo de Huelva - the last of the French players to leave Merseyside.

Olympique Lyonnais

On 29 May, 2005, it was announced that Houllier had signed a two-year contract as manager of the champions of Ligue 1, succeeding Paul Le Guen. Lyon had just won their previous fourth successive championship and Houllier was hired to convert this domestic dominance to the European stage. Despite continuing this dominance of the Ligue 1, Lyon crashed out to the inexperienced Roma in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. Houllier also suffered the heartache of a cup final defeat (Coupe de la Ligue) to Bordeaux. In April 2007 however, Houllier won his 2nd successive (Lyon's sixth consecutive) Ligue 1 title after Toulouse's loss to Rennes.

The 2006/07 season proved to be his last with the club. On 25 May, 2007, Houllier stepped down as boss of Olympique Lyonnais. A fractious relationship with outspoken chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, who was frustrated at the club's inability to convert domestic dominance into European success. [http://eurosport.yahoo.com/25052007/58/ligue-1-houllier-quits-lyon.html] An official statement on Lyon's website stated that Houllier asked to be released from the last season of his contract and that request was granted by the president. Houllier also said that that he needed a break after experiencing two seasons with Lyon. [http://www.uefa.com/footballeurope/news/kind=2/newsid=543587.html]


Gerard Houllier had an unsuccessful stint as manager of his country France between 1992 and 1993. Despite looking near certainties to qualify for the finals France suffered ignominious failure when they lost their final 2 qualifying games (both at home) to unfancied Israel (2-3) and Bulgaria (1-2). Houllier infamously blamed French player David Ginola for this demise. Ginola had lost possession prior to the goal that won the game for Bulgaria.

On 25 October 2007 he stated that he would like to be considered for another International management job. He was linked with the vacant Republic of Ireland, England and South Korea manager positions.


Houllier has been awarded the Légion d'Honneur for his services to French football, and an honorary OBE for services to British football, along with fellow manager, compatriot and friend Arsène Wenger.

Club honours

flagicon|FRA Paris Saint-Germain

* 1985-86 French League Championship

flagicon|ENG Liverpool

* 2000-01 League Cup
* 2000-01 FA Cup
* 2000-01 UEFA Cup
* 2002-03 League Cup
* 2001-02 UEFA Super Cup
* 2001-02 FA Charity Shield

flagicon|FRA Olympique Lyonnais

* 2005-06 French League Championship
* 2006-07 French League Championship

International honours


* 1996 European Under-19 Football Championship

ee also

* List of UEFA Cup winning managers

External links

*soccerbase (manager)|id=1314|name=Gérard Houllier
*fr icon [http://www.sitercl.com/Fichejo/H/houllieg.htm Profile, stats and pictures of Gerard Houllier]
* [http://www.lfconline.com/news/loadfeat.asp?cid=EDB4&id=138738 LFC Online profile]
* [http://www.lfchistory.net/managers_profile.asp?manager_id=16 Manager profile at LFChistory.net]
* [http://www.itv-football.co.uk/story/0,19239,6145_2728261,00.html Gérard Houllier - Nomination FFF Role]



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