Gérard Houllier, OBE born 3 September 1947, in Thérouanne, Pas-de-Calais, France, is a French 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.
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 Melwood were thoroughly overhauled.
The rebuilding continued in 2000, with the signings of Markus Babbel, Nicky Barmby, Pegguy Arphexad, Grégory 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.
|Birthplace: Lille, France|
|Other clubs as manager: Noeux Les Mines, Lens, Paris St. Germain, France Football Federation, Lyon|
|Arrived from: France Football Fed.|
|Signed for LFC: 12.11.1998|
|First game in charge: 14.11.1998|
|Contract expiry: 24.05.2004|
|LFC league games as manager: 216|
|Total LFC games as manager: 307|
|Honours: F.A. cup winners 2001|
|League cup winners 2001, 2003|
|UEFA cup winners 2001|