Houllierís Unhappy Anfield Return
Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier landed himself in considerable hot water after his side’s comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Liverpool on Monday night.
Houllier spent six years as Liverpool boss and a mutual affection with Liverpool fans has remained. But Houllier’s post-match reaction was too affectionate for Villa non-executive director General Charles C. Krulak.
Houllier said: “If I have got to lose 3-0, I would prefer it to be to them as I like Liverpool,” a remark he insisted was “intended to be humorous.”
However, Krulak, seen as close to Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner, took it seriously and said: “Those who are looking for GH’s head...have the right to feel that way, they buy the tickets and can say what they want.”
Houllier upset fans by applauding Liverpool fans chanting his name. But he said: “no-one likes to lose 3-0 to any team. Everyone is hurting because of recent results and I and my staff are working on putting this right.”
The most hurtful recent result was Villa’s Carling Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of bitter city rivals, Birmingham, last week.
There were ugly post-match scenes when some Birmingham fans decided the best way to celebrate was to run towards the Villa fans to taunt them.
Villa fans ripped out seats and threw them towards the Birmingham fans. And the incident is now the subject of an FA inquiry.
Gabriel Agbonlahor scored for Villa after they had fallen behind to Sebastian Larsson’s first-half penalty. But they lost to Nikola Zigic’s late deflected winner.
Villa are now 16th in the EPL, just two points above the relegation zone, ahead of Saturday’s West Midlands derby against West Bromwich Albion.
However, winger Stuart Downing remains upbeat about their immediate prospects – beating West Brom would leave them just two points behind their much-praised rivals.
When asked if Villa were in a relegation battle, Downing told the Guardian newspaper: “No. We are down there but it is so tight you could soon fly up.
“We have players coming back from injury, which is a big plus. When we have them back we have a strong squad.”
22-year-old midfielder Jonathan Hogg this week became the latest young Villa star to sign a new contract, which will keep him at Villa Park until 2013.
Hogg has made five appearances in his debut EPL season and joins youngsters such as Ciaran Clark in committing to the club.
Tags: Aston Villa, Gerard Houllier, Carling Cup, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stuart Downing, Villa Park, EPL