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Gerard Houllier explains Liverpool remark to Villa fans

Gerard Houllier
Houllier believes Villa can 'battle through' a difficult period

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier has been forced to clarify comments made after Monday's 3-0 defeat to his former club Liverpool which infuriated fans.

Speaking after Villa's fourth straight defeat, Houllier said: "If I have got to lose 3-0, I would prefer it to be to them as I like Liverpool."

The comments sparked an angry response from fans on message boards and forums.

But the Frenchman said he intended the remark as a joke, adding: "I am hurting as much as anybody, believe me."

Ravaged by injuries to key players like captain Stiliyan Petrov and Emile Heskey, Houllier's side are on a dismal run, with just one win in their last 11 league games.

606: DEBATE
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The defeat to Liverpool left Villa with 17 points from 16 games, just two points above the relegation zone.

Visibly emotional on his return to the club where he spent six years as manager, Houllier touched the famous "This is Anfield" sign as he entered the arena, signed autographs and acknowledged a warm reception from Liverpool fans.

And after a limp Villa display on the pitch, the manager's post-match confession of affection for his former team served to fuel the ire of some supporters.

But in a statement on Villa's website on Wednesday, Houllier sought to clear up any ill-feeling, suggesting his comments had been misconstrued.

"To the fans who travelled to Liverpool and to all Villa supporters, let me assure that we are working as hard as we possibly can to achieve the level of success which this great club aspires to," wrote Houllier, who took over from Martin O'Neill as Aston Villa manager in September.

"Everybody is hurting because of recent results and I and my staff are working on putting this right.

"No-one likes to lose 3-0 against any team and, if comments I made in the immediate aftermath of our defeat by Liverpool have been misconstrued - comments which were intended to be humorous, by the way - let me put them into context.

Houllier targets improvement after Anfield defeat

"The experiences I enjoyed with Liverpool some years ago will always stay with me, as will many experiences I have had in football both before and since, and I have taken all these experiences into my job as manager of Aston Villa.

"I understand the fans' feelings of hurt and disappointment at the moment - I am hurting as much as anybody, believe me - and I say emphatically that we will battle through.

"Building lasting success at Aston Villa is my focus and my commitment to this challenge is resolute.

"It is down to us collectively as a club to work hard to bring joy and success to the fans because the fans are the most important.

"They are passionate, vocal and fantastic, which I stated when I first came here.

"They know we are in this together and their support will be vital on Saturday for our game against West Bromwich Albion."



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see also
Liverpool 3-0 Aston Villa
06 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Houllier 'concerned' after loss
07 Dec 10 |  Premier League


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