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Houllier set for emotional Liverpool return

sports Updated: Dec 05, 2010 16:15 IST

AFP
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Gerard Houllier has called on his struggling Aston Villa side to cut out the "stupid" mistakes that have punctured their season as he prepares to make an emotional return to Liverpool on Monday.

Houllier led Liverpool to FA Cup, UEFA Cup and two League Cup triumphs during six years in charge at Anfield between 1998 and 2004.

And the 63-year-old former France coach, who underwent heart surgery while in charge at Anfield, is sure of a warm reception from Liverpool fans when Villa visit Merseyside.

Villa are desperate for a win after a poor run of form which has seen them win just once in the last nine league games.

They arrive at Anfield on the back of a League Cup quarter-final defeat against neighbours Birmingham, and Houllier is demanding a response from his side on a big night for the Frenchman.

"I have some very good memories of Liverpool. They were a club I liked, long before I got the chance to work for them and it will be special for me to go back there again," said Houllier, who returned to England to take charge of Villa in September.

"There are not too many people left from my time at the club. The two main ones are Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

"I hope that Jamie makes a very quick recovery from his injury, because he is a key player for them and I have a feeling that Steven will be back in action against us on Monday.

"Our football is good. It needs to improve in the final third and we need to be more clinical. We also need to eradicate some stupid, schoolboy errors which cost goals.

"We are improving in terms of our passing, movement and preparation although there are some areas where we have to keep improving.

"But we desperately need results at the moment. We must win a game soon and the sooner the better.

"It is a shame because at times we have shown we are better than the team that has beaten us - Sunderland, Blackburn and Birmingham. I am sure that at some stage what we are doing will be fruitful and pay dividends.

"We know it is a difficult time. We are on 17 points. Maybe with three, four or five points more, we would practically be in Europe. With three points less, we would be practically in the relegation zone."

With the hosts also desperate for points, there will be little love lost between Liverpool and Houllier once the game gets underway.

Since defeating Chelsea at Anfield on November 7, Roy Hodgson's side have won once in four games and crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham last weekend after leading.

Hodgson revealed after the defeat that Carragher had suffered a dislocated shoulder which will keep him out for up to three months.

Former England defender Carragher has since undergone a successful operation but will be forced to watch Houllier's return from the sidelines.

Carragher has nothing but respect for Houllier after leading Liverpool to an FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble in 2001.

"The treble in 2001 is definitely under-appreciated," said Carragher. "He put us back on the map in Europe with that UEFA Cup run in 2001.

"He was also the first manager to get us into the Champions League. He was fantastic in a team meeting in getting you pumped up for a game, getting everyone together and team spirit."

Liverpool could welcome back midfielder Gerrard from a hamstring injury but Daniel Agger (calf) is definitely out.