As was widely expected, it has been confirmed this evening by the club that Gerard Houllier has left the club by mutual consent following the health scare he suffered towards the end of last season.It was reported on Monday that the Frenchman was likely to depart and it seemed it was only a matter of time for the club to make an official announcement having stated that the rumours from earlier in the week were ‘premature’ and not incorrect. The 63-year-old had a rollercoaster of an opening, and as it has unfolded, closing season to his Villa tenure. The club have agreed a compensation package with the former Liverpool man, who signed a three-year contract worth around £8m after the departure of Martin O’Neill last summer. The decision will also no doubt put Gary McAllister’s position at the club in severe doubt.
Villa will now begin their search for a new manager, who will become the fifth to take either temporary or permanent charge of the club in less than a year. Fulham boss Mark Hughes has emerged as an early favourite, though the majority of the fans are thought to favour an approach for Everton manager David Moyes. The likes of Rafa Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Martinez and Steve McLaren are all at longer odds. The official club statement regarding the decision made to part ways with Houllier read as follows.
“I would like to thank Gerard for his considerable efforts over the past nine months and for the dedication, commitment and work ethic he has demonstrated as Villa manager,” said chief executive Paul Faulkner.
“We regret the circumstances of Gerard’s departure and, naturally, we wish him well in his continued recovery.
“I know I speak for everyone associated with Aston Villa in expressing our hope that Gerard will return to full health as quickly as possible and we wish him all the best for the future.
“As a Board we are very conscious of the need to ensure that the Club is prepared fully to meet the demands of the new season and, to that end, we have already embarked upon the process which will lead to the appointment of a new manager.
“We will update when appropriate and until such time as we can make an announcement there will be no further comment from the Club on this matter.”
Houllier also spoke of his time at the club and the regrettable decision to step down from management in order to put his physical health first.
Gerard Houllier said: “I am extremely disappointed that I will not have the opportunity to manage Aston Villa next season.
“My health has improved considerably since I was taken ill on April 20. I now intend to take the next few months to concentrate on recuperating fully before I may return to football.
“I was very much looking forward to the prospect of my first full season as Villa manager and returning for pre-season training to prepare for the campaign ahead, a luxury that I did not have last season.
“I have been extremely touched by all of the messages I have received and by the reaction of people throughout the world of football.
“I am very grateful to the Villa fans for their genuine concern and encouragement and to the fans of clubs up and down the country for their kind sentiments.
“I would especially like to thank my assistant manager, Gary McAllister, my staff, the players and all at Aston Villa for their support and, of course, for their efforts in securing a very positive end to last season.
“It has been an honour to manage this great club and I wish everyone connected with Aston Villa every success for the future.”
Whatever you think of the man and his time at the club, we should all appreciate the efforts he made and there were undoubtedly some highlights and changes that he made that were highly necessary. Cutting the wage bill, promoting possession football and some eye-catching signings, especially Darren Bent, were all steps in the right direction for the club. I wish him well on behalf of Aston Villa Blog! Any parting messages, preferably well wishes but all opinions welcome! Who next? UTV
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