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Gérard Houllier, OBE, ( , born 3 September 1947, in Thérouannemarker, Pas-de-Calais, Francemarker) is a Frenchmarker 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 25 May 2007. He also coached the French national team between 1992 and 1993.

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, 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 school teacher, 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-Minesmarker as head coach where he won two consecutive promotions into the second division before moving to Lens in 1982. He took Lens 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, but resigned in 1993 after France failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Houllier blamed the failure on winger David Ginola's failure to complete a pass to Eric Cantona to score. Houllier became extremely unpopular in France, blamed not only for the failure to qualify, but also for the poor results during Platini's tenure. Platini was still popular enough that the public was reluctant to blame him directly. He remained with the team as a technical director, however. In 1998 France won the World Cup, and Houllier's contribution was recognized with the award of a special medal.


In July 1998, Houllier was invited to become joint team manager of Liverpool Football Club, together with Roy Evans. The arrangement did not work out at all and Roy Evans resigned in November after losing to Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at home in the League Cup prior to that defeat Liverpool were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Spanish side Celta Vigo, leaving Houllier in sole charge of the team.

Houllier began what he described as a five-year program to rebuild the team, starting in 1999. That summer, Paul Ince, David James, Jason McAteer, Rob Jones, Tony Warner and Steve Harkness were all sold, while Steve McManaman left on a free. At the same time seven new players, Sami Hyypiä, Dietmar Hamann, Stephane Henchoz, Vladimir Smicer, Sander Westerveld, Eric Meijer and Djimi Traore were all signed. Also, Liverpool's training facilities at Melwoodmarker were thoroughly overhauled.

The rebuilding continued in 2000, with the signings of Markus Babbel, Nicky Barmby, Pegguy Arphexad, Gregory Vignal, Emile Heskey, Gary McAllister, Igor Biscan and Christian Ziege, but the departures of David Thompson, Phil Babb, Dominic Matteo, Steve Staunton, Brad Friedel and Stig Inge Bjornebye

The efforts yielded a result in the successful 2000–01 season, when Liverpool won a cup treble of the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup and finished third in the English Premier League. Liverpool went on to win the FA Community Shield against Manchester United and UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich.

In October 2001, after falling ill at half time in the Liverpool's Premier League match with Leeds United, Houllier was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation when he suffered a dissected aorta. In his absence, caretaker manager Phil Thompson guided Liverpool to the second-place finish in the league, their best record in the Premiership. Houllier returned to active management of the club after five months, but many Liverpool fans felt that he subsequently was never quite the same manager he had been. A prime example was where Houllier substituted the defensive midfielder Dietmar Hamann with Vladimir Smicer in an away match against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. The scoreline was 1-1 with Bayer needing two goals to win. With a gap in the defense, however, Liverpool was exposed to endless attacks, and Liverpool failed to advance to the semi-final.

The 2002-2003 season was not as successful. Liverpool finished in the fifth place in the Premiership, failing to qualify for the Champions League next season. Critics blamed Houllier's unsuccessful summer signings in 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 in favour of signing the ineffective Diouf. Houllier's failure to replace creative talents such as Gary McAllister and Jari Litmanen was also criticized.

A lack of success in the following seasons when Liverpool struggled to qualify for the Champions League despite substantial investment in players, with what was perceived as negative one-dimensional tactics and unattractive football, a poor youth policy, his constant mention of "turning corners" and a lack of support from fans led to Houllier's departure from Liverpool on 24 May, 2004. During a press conference at Liverpool FC leading up to his departure Houllier said, 'If they want to go back to the 70's & 80's they can do that but not with me' shortly after Houllier left the press conference.. He left by mutual consent with the club and was swiftly replaced by Valencia coach Rafa Benitez.

Youth policy

Much of Houllier's youth policy was based on bringing in what he regarded as the best that France had to offer. Since he was head of technical development at the French football association, before he joined Liverpool, he was familiar with young football talents in France. His purchases included most of the squad which won the under-21 European Cup in 2006, including "French Gems" Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle. He claimed that many of his signings would be the "next Zidane" like Igor Bišćan, Bruno Cheyrou and Anthony Le Tallec. However, most of the signings (although this cannot be claimed of Biscan) proved too slow mentally for the speed and physical presence of the English game, or did not develop much physically, in contrast to young talents Arsène Wenger was bringing in at the time at Arsenal.

Houllier's last purchase was Djibril Cissé, who arrived, after Houllier departed, for £14 million, and proved to be perhaps the most promising after a number of dubious signings . He was out for most of the first season with a broken leg. In the 2005–06 season, however, Cissé became the second highest goalscorer at Liverpool with 19 in all competitions, 6 in Champions League qualifiers, 2 in the European Super Cup, and 9 in the Premiership, and scored Liverpool's first goal in their FA Cup victory in May 2006. After an alleged bust-up with manager Rafael Benítez, Cissé was loaned to Olympique Marseille for the 2006–07 season. On 30 August 2006, Florent Sinama-Pongolle left Liverpool for a season loan with Recreativo de Huelva, the last of the French players signed by Houllier 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 lost to AC Milan in the quarter-finals of the 2005–06 competition while they crashed out to the inexperienced Roma in the first knockout round of the 2006–07 season . Houllier also suffered the heartache of a cup final defeat (Coupe de la Ligue) to Bordeauxmarker. 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, due to a fractious relationship with outspoken chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, who was frustrated at the club's inability to convert domestic dominance into European success. 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.


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. David Ginola never played for France again under Houllier though did play his last game for France in 1995.

On 25 October 2007 he stated that he would like to be considered for another International management job, and 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 Britishmarker football, along with fellow manager, compatriot and friend Arsène Wenger.

Club honours

Paris Saint-Germain


International honours

See also


External links

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