Houllier steps down as Aston Villa manager

Gerard Houllier has stepped down as manager of Aston Villa after
just nine months in charge following medical advice.

The Premier League club announced on its website on Wednesday
that the 63-year-old Frenchman had left by mutual consent.

Houllier, who underwent emergency heart surgery in 2001, had
been absent from his job since he was hospitalized in April with a
heart problem described by the club as ”a dissection of the
descending aorta.”

”Doctors have advised that he will require further time to
recuperate,” the Villa statement said.

Houllier took over in September 2010 following the abrupt
departure of Martin O’Neill shortly before the start of the
season.

”We regret the circumstances of Gerard’s departure and,
naturally, we wish him well in his continued recovery,” chief
executive Paul Faulkner said.

”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.”

Houllier led Liverpool to the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in
2001 but in October of the same year, he fell ill during a Premier
League match and underwent open heart surgery.

He resumed his role at Liverpool after five months away but left
in 2004 and had been working as technical director for the French
football federation until his appointment by Villa.

”I am extremely disappointed that I will not have the
opportunity to manage Aston Villa next season,” Houllier said on
Wednesday.

”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.”

Assistant coach Gary McAllister had been in charge of the team
in Houllier’s absence, leading Villa to a ninth-place finish in the
Premier League.

Amid recent speculation that Houllier would be unable to
continue, McAllister, former England coach Steve McClaren and
Fulham manager Mark Hughes were linked with the vacant Villa
post.

”We have already embarked upon the process which will lead to
the appointment of a new manager,” chief executive Faulkner
said.

”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.”