Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has passed away at the age of 73. The Frenchman spent six years in charge of the Reds from 1998 to 2004, winning the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Charity Shield, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. He also spent one season in charge of Aston Villa at the start of the decade, leading them to a ninth-place finish.
Former Liverpool Manager Gerard Houllier Dies Aged 73
After a 12-year playing career in his native France, Houllier started his life in management at Le Touquet in the northern part of the country. He spent three years there before moving 0nto Nœux-les-Mines and then got his big breakthrough in 1982 when he took over at Lens.
After three years with Lens, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain where he got his first taste of success, leading the Parisians to the Division One title in the 1985/86 season. This was enough to alert the national team set-up, and in 1988 he joined the senior team as an assistant manager.
After four years, he took sole control of the national side but resigned in 1993 after France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.
He subsequently took charge of the France U18 side, leading them to success at the European Championships in 1996, and after that he spent a year in charge of the U20 side.
Gerard Houllier will be best known for his six years in charge of Liverpool, where he won the most club honours in his career. He initially came into the set-up as a joint manager with Roy Evans but it was quickly established that it was not working, leading to Evans’ resignation and Houllier taking full reign.
Houllier’s task was to restore some discipline into the side after the ‘Spice Boys’ era, and the squad overhaul started as soon as was possible.
The likes of Sami Hyypia, Dietmar Hamann and Vladimir Smicer all came in and were joined a year later by players such as Emile Heskey and Gary McAllister.
Overhauls like that would be seen as a big risk in the modern game, but it worked out for Houllier as he led Liverpool to the treble of Leauge Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup, as well as securing a Champions League spot after a third-place finish in the Premier League.
Houllier’s health problems were discovered around the same time when he was rushed to hospital at half-time during a match against Leeds United. Phil Thompson took caretaker charge of the team while Houllier recovered, and he returned after five months.
Despite substantial investment in later seasons, Liverpool struggled to qualify for the Champions League. Underwhelming signings, too, such as El-Hadj Diouf and Salif Diao failed to appease fans.
As such, Houllier left the club in May 2004 and was replaced by Rafael Benitez. Although it did not end of the best terms, there is no doubt that Houllier’s success laid the foundations for Benitez to go on and win the Champions League in Istanbul and have helped Liverpool to be the club they are today.
After a year out of the game, Houllier took over at Ligue 1 side Lyon, succeeding Paul Le Guen. The side has just won their fourth domestic title in a row and Houllier’s task was to transfer this dominance to the European stage.
Although the domestic success continued with two titles in a row (six in a row for Lyon), they lost to AC Milan in the quarter-finals of the 2005/06 Champions League and were dumped out by Roma a year later.
In 2010, it was announced that Houllier had taken over at Premier League side Aston Villa following the resignation of Martin O’Neill. He signed a three-year contract but left after just one season, suffering ill health towards the end of the campaign and subsequently stepping down.
We are mourning the passing of our treble-winning manager, Gerard Houllier.
The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Gerard’s family and many friends.
Rest in peace, Gerard Houllier 1947-2020. pic.twitter.com/isHGXIfe5E
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 14, 2020
All at Aston Villa are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Gérard Houllier, our manager during the 2010/11 season.
Our thoughts are with Gérard’s loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 14, 2020
C’est avec une profonde tristesse que le Paris Saint-Germain a appris le décès de son ancien entraîneur Gérard Houllier.
À sa famille, à ses proches, le Paris Saint-Germain présente ses plus sincères condoléances. ❤️💙
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) December 14, 2020
— michael owen (@themichaelowen) December 14, 2020
Oh no! Gerard Houllier has passed away. One of football’s smartest, warmest and loveliest people. #RIPGerard
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 14, 2020