Gerard Houllier


It would not be hyperbole to say that Gerard Houllier was the man who saved Liverpool football club’s place as one of the giants of football. When he arrived at the club, they had experienced nearly a decade of decline, with fashionista Spice Boys and piss drunk wind up merchants living off the odd moment of inspiration while the club sunk further in the table. When he left, the club had won 5 trophies in 5 years and would soon become European Champions again.

Houllier won promotion with Lens, before winning the French title with Paris St Germain in 1986 when that was a rare event. He then moved into the French national team set up, as assistant manager and then later manager. France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, and Gerard took over the youth teams, training the team that would win the 1998 Cup.

At Liverpool, Houllier booted out most of the team and replaced them with promising youth team players like Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard. This coupled with the astute signing of experienced veterans like Gary McAllister and Jari Litmanen propelled Liverpool back into the top echelons of the Premier League, and though the league title itself eluded them, the club won the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup in his reign.

In 2001, his side were challenging Arsenal for the title when, in October, he took ill during a match with Leeds. He suffered an aortic dissection, but miraculously survived emergency surgery, and returned to management five months later. The heart problems cost him some of the needed energy for the role, and he left in 2004. He became manager of Lyon, where he won two league titles, but never got the European success they wanted, despite a fun 3-0 smashing of Real Madrid. In 2009 he was briefly Aston Villa manager but he never won over their fans and when heart issues flared up again, he retired.

He was a unique pick for Dinner Reservation for 20.

Gerard Houllier
3 September 1947 -14 December 2020