Houllier: Liverpool should defend title

Former Reds boss Gerrard Houllier was unveiled as the new boss of French champions Lyon at the weekend. In an interview for the League Managers Association website Houllier joined the growing band of  football figures that support Liverpool’s right to defend their European title. He said: "I was really so pleased that Liverpool won the Champions League for the fans, the players and the Club. I’d be gutted if they are not in the Champions League next season. Commonsense should prevail and the winners of the Champions League should be the first ones to defend it."

Houllier was asked if he felt he had something to prove to the Liverpool board and fans: "No not at all. I left Liverpool on good terms. The fans, players and staff know the contribution that I made. I had 6 wonderful years winning trophies and qualifying for the Champions League.”

Houllier revealed that he was interested in taking certain Premiership players over to Lyon: "If it is possible, but I won’t name names. However if Stevie Gerrard wants to come to Lyon then no problem!"

Houllier’s abilities seemed to suffer after he underwent his urgent heart surgery, but he feels that this isn’t a factor that has an impact on his ability to do a job: "I really am fine. I checked with my surgeon and a surgeon at Lyon before I took the job. I’ve learnt from my experience and I know how to balance my workload and when to take a break."

The LMA is an organisation that was set up relatively recently, the equivalent of the PFA for coaches working in England. Houllier spoke to their members at a dinner recently, and had a messge for those coaches that a re currently out of work: "Yes I want to re-iterate what I said at the recent LMA dinner…at some stage talent always bounces back. They must believe in themselves all the time, because sometimes the Press can make you feel guilty when you lose a game or lose your job." 

Houllier’s relationship with the English press was not a good relationship, he was unable to deal with criticism, banning former Reds from Anfield if they questioned any of his decisions in the press. After a year out of football, Houllier may have picked a few tips up on how to deal with the press.

Meanwhile the press continue to discuss Liverpool’s attempts to defend their European title next season. Sky Sports News spoke to UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson on the phone on Monday. He revealed that the decision on what happens to Liverpool will be made before the UEFA committee meeting scheduled for June 17th in Manchester. UEFA are analysing the impact Liverpool’s entry will have on other clubs before making a decision, a process Olsson claims is complex: "We can make a decision before the meeting, because it is important for the clubs playing that they know the conditions. We are doing an analysis now and it is complex. There will be an open discussion. It is a welcome debate because there are different views in different countries. It cannot be a discussion only about Liverpool. The entire rule has to be discussed."