Houllier spends night in hospital

Premier League managers quickly sent ‘get well’ messages to the

Frenchman, whose condition is described as comfortable. The

63-year-old underwent open heart surgery in October 2001 after

feeling unwell when Liverpool boss during a match with Leeds and

did not return to full-time management for five months. The exact

nature of his current illness has not been revealed, but he will

undergo tests and remain in hospital for a number of days.

Assistant manager Gary McAllister will take charge of Villa’s home

clash with Stoke at the weekend. Houllier had undergone a routine

check-up with Villa’s medical staff last week, but at 7am this

morning contacted Villa’s chief executive Paul Faulkner to allay

fears about his health. Faulkner and McAllister were due to visit

Houllier in hospital today. A Villa statement read: “The club can

confirm that Gerard Houllier was admitted to hospital last night.

“He is in a comfortable condition and he wishes to convey his

appreciation to Aston Villa supporters for their concern and good

wishes. “The manager spoke to chief executive Paul Faulkner this

morning and he is currently undergoing tests. “It is anticipated

that he will remain in hospital for several days. “Assistant

manager Gary McAllister has taken training this morning and he will

be in charge of the team for the game against Stoke on Saturday at

Villa Park. “The club’s thoughts at this time are with Gerard and

his family.” Houllier has endured a demanding first season after

replacing Martin O’Neill in September. He has come under fire from

some Villa fans on a couple of occasions and sections of them have

called for him to be sacked. But results have improved in recent

weeks with Villa climbing into the top half of the Barclays Premier

League after taking seven points from the last three games.

Faulkner said: “On behalf of the football club, Randy Lerner (the

club owner) and I wish to convey our best wishes to Gerard. “I

spoke with him this morning, as did Gary (McAllister) before he

took training, and he sounded very positive. “I’ve also received a

lot of good wishes from fans and I would like to thank them for

their kind thoughts in wishing Gerard a speedy recovery. “I will

see him this afternoon, along with Gary, and we will pass on the

fans’ messages. I know they will mean a lot to him. “We would ask

everybody to respect his privacy and that of his family at this

time.” Jonathan Fear, editor of the fans’ website Vital Villa,

said: “Although fans may have differences with some of Gerard’s

on-the-field decisions, they will all wish him well and hope he

bounces back to health.” Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini said:

“It is not easy because, when you are under pressure, you can have

some problems. “But I hope Gerard comes out of the hospital very

quickly because he is a big person, a big manager.” Villa club

ambassador and former player Ian Taylor said: “It came as a bit of

a shock to everyone and I’m sure the Villa supporters and everyone

in football wish Gerard a speedy recovery. “Hopefully we will see

him back in the dugout soon. “The majority of the preparation work

for the Stoke game will already have been done by this stage, so

I’m sure it will only be a matter of fine-tuning and Gary

McAllister will take care of that. “Knowing Gerard, he will

probably want to be trying to manage the team from his hospital bed

and be on the phone to Gary and the rest of the backroom staff.

“Undoubtedly it will have affected the squad, but something like

this can often galvanise the players and brings everyone at the

club closer together.” Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish said: “Of

course our thoughts are with him. We wish him well and I’m sure he

is in the best possible hands. “Doc (Mark) Waller is there, who was

the club doctor here when Gerard fell ill in 2001, so he’s got a

good guy beside him and I’m sure the people there will do

everything they can to help.”