Houllier steps down as Aston Villa manager

Houllier steps down as Aston Villa manager

Published Jun. 1, 2011 9:56 p.m. ET

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.''