BIRMINGHAM: Gerard Houllier has apologised to Aston Villa's fans after triggering outrage with his behavior at former club Liverpool earlier this week.
Houllier sparked uproar following Villa's 3-0 loss to the Reds at Anfield on Monday after remarking that “if I was going to lose 3-0 to anyone, it would be Liverpool as I like Liverpool”.
The comments were seized upon by Houllier's critics as evidence that the Frenchman, who managed Liverpool between 1998 and 2004, was not fully committed to his new assignment at Villa.
Houllier also angered Villa's supporters by touching the iconic “This Is Anfield” sign above the tunnel en route to the pitch and appearing to ignore the travelling fans at the final whistle whilst waving to Liverpool's fans.
However Houllier moved to dampen down the controversy on Friday ahead of Villa's midlands derby with West Bromwich Albion.
“If the fans think (what I did) was to hurt them, then I am sorry because this was not the case,” Houllier said.
“It was just done in a humorous way and I am hurting as much they are. I was probably more hurt because it was Liverpool.
“If it adds to the fans' dissatisfaction, they have to know this was not the case at all (to upset them). This was done in a sort of a humorous way.
“I am sorry. That's it. That's enough.”
Houllier said he had touched the “This is Anfield” sign because of its personal significance to him when he suffered a near-fatal heart scare at the ground in 2001.
“There was also a story that I touched the tunnel. I've done it for six years because that is under the tunnel where I was sick and it meant something,” Houllier explained.
“Had we won 3-0, no one would have talked about that. No one would say anything about that,” he said.
“I'm hurting as much as the fans are. If you think that the fans have been hurt by what I said, yes I am sorry.”
Channel News Asia