Houllier hits out at ‘stupid’ Carew

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier turned on Norwegian striker John Carew by labelling the player ‘stupid’ after their 1-1 draw at Fulham.

Carew had been set to deputise for injured Emile Heskey against Fulham but he damaged a calf muscle in training and missed out.

But Carew, who is out of contract at the end of the season, took offence to Houllier’s earlier remarks about him taking the chance to earn a new deal.

Houllier is reported to have said: "John is at the end of his contract and it is an opportunity to express what he wants – whether he wants to stay at the club or whether he wants to go somewhere else."

But an angry Carew, 31, hit back by claiming that Houllier had demonstrated a lack of respect.

"If he wants me to fight for a contract, he should speak to me directly and not through the media," said Carew in VG.

"This is disrespectful to me and to the fans who sing my name week in, week out."

In a public spat that overshadowed Villa’s draw at Craven Cottage, Houllier denied he had been respectful to Carew but labelled him as being "stupid" and "living in the past".

"I was told about his comments," said Houllier. "I think he is stupid. How can he say that? I didn’t lack respect to him or anybody.

"Somebody asked me if it was a good chance for him and I said yes. What do you want me to say? No? I think John is living in the past at the moment.

"He should look at the figures, how long has he played and how many goals have we scored when he has been playing. I didn’t lack respect to him but in doing that, he is lacking respect to me.

"I don’t question his ability. I am not living in the past. We have been very unlucky with him with injury and illness. I know his ability.

"If he thinks that me saying yes is lacking respect, then I am not going to say sorry. I feel he should focus on the games, we are in difficulty at the moment. We don’t get enough points."

Villa should beaten Fulham after taking a 42nd minute lead through Marc Albrighton. But they squandered numerous chances before Fulham defender Brede Hangeland scored a last-gasp equaliser.

"The overall performance was good," added Houllier. "We sometimes played very good football.

"I told the boys I am extremely unhappy with the result but the performance was outstanding in terms of effort and discipline and we had enough chances to seal the game.

"The only thing we could blame ourselves for was that we had the chances to finish it off."

But Houllier, already without Carew and Heskey, will not be without captain Nigel Reo-Coker for at least three weeks with a knee injury collected in a clash with Jonathan Greening.

"I don’t think Nigel will be able to play for another two or three weeks minimum," said Houllier. "It is a knee injury. There was a challenge with Jonathan Greening.

"Jonathan fell on his ankle and he twisted his knee. It is very unfortunate. It is am medial ligament injury and we need to know the gravity of it is."

Fulham boss Mark Hughes was relieved his side managed to steal a point from the game.

"In the first half I thought we edged the better chances," said Hughes. "I was disappointed to concede just before half-time and in the second-half, Villa were able to get people behind the ball and play on the counter and that was always a worry for us.

"But we kept on going and doing the right things. We didn’t ask enough questions in the second-half, in terms of balls into the box, but the one ball we did produce brought us the goal and we are thankful for that.

"At that late stage you are thinking the game is lost and it has gone beyond you. We got something out of the game so we are pleased.

"We have got to be pleased with the point."

But the return of striker Andrew Johnson, out of the game for 13 months with groin and knee injuries, was a boost for Hughes.

He had a gilt-edged chance to score after coming on as a second-half substitute but Villa keeper Brad Friedel won the one-on-one contest nine minutes from time.

"Andrew looked bright," added Hughes. "I just felt we needed to stretch the game. We kept going and that is the positive we will take from it.

"But Andrew showed once again he still has that awareness and I am sure he was disappointed not to convert his chance. But credit to Brad who came out very quickly and closed his angle down. It was good play all round."