Houllier hits out at Benitez tenure

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has criticised his successor at Anfield, claiming it was he and not Rafael Benitez who turned the club around and built the squad which memorably won the 2005 Champions League final.

Speaking to the London Evening Standard, the 63-year old Frenchman has welcomed the appointment of his close friend Roy Hodgson, believing the former Fulham manager will restore the values and traditions of the Anfield club.

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Houllier said: “After Rafa Benitez left this summer, one of the players sent me a message.

“He said, 'Boss, he hasn’t beaten you'.”

Houllier goes on to say that Benitez was lucky to inherit a club that was in such good health when he was sacked in 2004.

“One, the pattern of getting a foreign coach was already accepted. Two, he had a Champions League winning team. Three, the team were already in the Champions League. Four, we had built new facilities. And five, it was a different training routine, different attitude and mentality," he said.

“I claim that we – Phil Thompson, Sammy Lee and the staff – definitely turned it round. The chairman, when I left, said 'You put the club into the 21st Century.””

Houllier also believes Liverpool’s Champions League success was due to a squad he constructed and that Benitez has failed to build on it.

“Twelve out of 14 in Istanbul were players I had signed or developed. I left Liverpool with a team and in the Champions League. But when you finish seventh with Torres and Gerrard…

“When I came into the changing room in Istanbul some of the players said: 'Boss, it’s your team'.”

Despite a humiliating summer, which saw Houllier oversee France’s disastrous World Cup campaign as the French Federation’s Technical Director, he is keen to return to club management, with England his ideal destination.

“I would love to manage the right club. There’s one I thought I would go to but Newcastle took Kevin Keegan.”

By Jamie Bowman

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