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."