FORMER Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier has tipped his former club to regain their spot in the Premier League’s top four as he conceded that his own managerial career is probably over due to health concerns.
The Frenchman confirmed he was unlikely to return to management after revealing he was still only “85%” recovered from his latest heart scare.
Houllier is predicting a bright future for his first English club Liverpool, despite Kenny Dalglish’s side losing their last two matches.
The Reds have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the past two seasons – and didn’t make it into Europe at all this term – but Houllier said: “I think they’ll finish in the top four.
“I believe in them.
“Don’t forget Steven Gerrard is not playing and, when he comes back, he’ll make a difference.”
Houllier was forced to quit Aston Villa after only one season in charge after being admitted to hospital in April suffering from chest pains.
The 64-year-old, who underwent open-heart surgery lasting 11 hours while in charge of Liverpool back in 2001, admitted he was still not right five months after his second setback. “I’ve got to admit the fact that, probably, I won’t go back into management,” he said.
“I’m practically 85%. I’m still getting there. I need maybe a couple of months. It was the dissection of the descending aorta and it was probably not as urgent but it’s a bad thing.”
Revealing his problem was “genetic”, he added: “Obviously, the profession that I used to have was not the best to keep in good health because of what I have.”
Houllier, who will limit his involvement in football to working as a television pundit, endured a difficult season at Villa, amid suggestions of player and fan unrest.
Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor claimed last week he would have quit the club had the Frenchman and assistant Gary McAllister remained in charge, criticising the latter’s approach to training.
Houllier leapt to the defence of the Scot, saying: “I was a bit surprised that one of the players was having a go at his training sessions.
“Because, truly, he is a modern, very up-to-date and very good coach. In fact, some players really improved.
“We could see some progress in Ashley Young and Stewart Downing in the way they played and the way they even increased their technical abilities.”
Manchester United and Liverpool swooped for Young and Downing respectively this summer, with the former playing a starring role in his new club’s best ever start to a Premier League season and helping put England on the brink of European Championship qualification.
Houllier said: “He’s a Champions League-level type of player.
“He works hard, he can really do the job offensive-wise but also when he has defensive duty, he does it.”