Should Gérard Houllier consider a different approach?

Posted on June 13, 2011 by


Poor Gerard Houllier; he’s had a tough time with illness. He couldn’t even finish his English degree at Lille University because of his father’s own maladies. He didn’t let that stop him though, no, continuing as a schoolteacher he gained his degree part time. Perhaps that’s why he’s known for his work and commitment with youth players. Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen both excelled under Houllier as young English talents, not to mention his work as technical director of the victorious 1998 France team including the young Patrick Vieira and the fresh Thierry Henry. Houiller also lead the French U18 squad to European glory in 1996, after stepping down from the French team due to their unsuccessful World Cup qualification effort in 1994.

It seems though, that the travails of modern management have had an adverse affect on Houillers heart. His latest high profile health scare is the second time his management has been affected by his poor health. You can’t help wondering why he puts himself through it. He must absolutely love the game. So, maybe a different role within the game would be more suited to the Frenchman.

Maybe he should take a leaf out of Piet de Visser’s book. de Visser started his management career in 1957, as assistant manager of Sparta. He also managed their youth team. He went on to manage FC Dordrecht, De Graafschap, NEC, R.W.D Molenbeek, winning titles and promotions along the way. He ended his career as a first team manager in 1993 after surviving cancer and five bypass surgeries. Five bypass surgeries, and cancer.

Piet de Visser

He is now a scout for Chelsea and has been for PSV. In his career as a scout, he has unearthed Arjen Robben, Romario, Ronaldo, Alex (the Chelsea one), Farfan and Adriano. I could have just named Ronaldo, the leading scorer of World Cup history, but the others aren’t bad either.

Scouting probably isn’t the best avenue for Houllier to follow. His record with spotting talent isn’t as impressive as his considerable nurturing talent. Perhaps a de Visser/Houllier partnership at the heart of a clubs youth recruitment and grooming network would be a powerful combination.

To overcome such illnesses and still remain in the game shows a true dedication to the sport. The Trawler hopes that Gerard Houllier gains a full recovery and can return to first team management as soon as possible. But, if it’s still too much for his health to bear, Piet de Visser is a wonderful example of what can be done if you play to your strengths and understand your weaknesses.

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