Gerard Houllier: former Liverpool manager’s best signings and 2001 treble glory remembered as he dies aged 73

The coach also took charge of Aston Villa in the Premier League and won trophies with Paris Saint Germain and Lyon in France

By Matt Brooks
Monday, 14th December 2020, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 14th December 2020, 1:32 pm
Gerard Houllier, former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Lyon manager, has died. (Pic: PA)
Gerard Houllier, former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Lyon manager, has died. (Pic: PA)

Former Liverpool and Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has died, aged 73.

Houllier is fondly remembered at Anfield having guided Liverpool to FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup glory in 2001’s treble winning season.

Just months later the Frenchman was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack after he fell ill during Liverpool’s match against Leeds United.

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Houllier had to undergo an emergency operation after medics at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary discovered a heart condition, known as an aortic dissection.

His cause of death is not yet known.

When did Houllier join Liverpool?

Houllier joined Liverpool in July 1998 as joint manager alongside Roy Evans.

Yet the arrangement didn't last long and Evans resigned from his post in November after a poor run of results, leaving Houllier in sole charge.

Houllier was charged with rebuilding the first team, which saw the likes of Paul Ince, David James and Steve McManaman leave the club.

His new approach brought success in the 2000/01 season as Liverpool completed a memorable treble and finished third in the Premier League.

Yet they were unable to use that season as a springboard and, despite winning the UEFA Super Cup and Charity Shield in 2001 and the League Cup in 2003, Houllier left in 2004.

What were Houllier’s best Liverpool signings?

Houllier was responsible for bringing in a host of new players to Liverpool during his time at the club, as well as developing the careers of Stephen Gerrard and Michael Owen.

Sami Hyypi, Dietmar Hamann and Vladimir Smicer were among the first raft of new signings before Markus Babbel, Emile Heskey, Gary McAllister and Christian Ziege arrived in 2000.

They were all key players in the 2001 treble winning season and enjoyed fruitful Liverpool careers.

Central defender Hyypia became club captain and went on to make 464 appearances for Liverpool - placing him 20th in the club's all time records.

While at the other end of the pitch Heskey formed a strong partnership in attack with Owen, as the duo racked up 46 goals between them in the 2000/01 campaign.

There were others who got away, namely Nicolas Anelka, with Houllier buying El Hadji Diouf in 2002 instead of making the French striker's loan move permanent.

What was Houllier’s relationship like with Steven Gerrard?

Houllier’s most notable addition to the first team was probably calling up one of Liverpool’s young prospects Gerrard from the youth set up.

Gerrard made his first team debut in November 1998, just months after Houllier joined the club, and went on to make 710 appearances for Liverpool.

So impressed was Houllier with Gerrard, he made him captain aged 23.

In 2015, Houllier wrote in a column in the Guardian: “I read somewhere Steven [Gerrard] saying he was the player that he was thanks to Gerard Houllier.

“Not many people would say that and it made me very proud. We had a very close relationship, not only captain and coach but I was attentive to his development.”

What were Houllier’s other coaching achievements?

Houllier went on to manage Aston Villa for a brief time in 2010/11 season, but his time at the club was curtailed by another bout of illness.

It brought an end to his managerial career which had spanned five decades.

Away from Liverpool, he won the French top flight with Paris Saint Germain in 1985/86 and again with Lyon in 2005/06 and 2006/07. He also won the UEFA European Under-18s Championship in 1996 with France.

He was awarded the honour of European Coach of the Year in 2001.