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Saturday, August 18, 2001
Houllier: 'The players do not rule Liverpool'
By Colin Wood

Robbie Fowler has been banished from the Liverpool squad until he apologises to assistant manager Phil Thompson.

Gerard Houllier, Dortmund
Houllier: Adamant
Manager Gerard Houllier said: 'Here the players are not ruling the place. Is that clear? Robbie will not be in the squad.'

The Frenchman has unequivocally backed Thompson following the training-ground row that led to Fowler's exclusion from the victorious Charity Shield squad last Sunday. According to Houllier, Fowler has refused to apologise despite being given five chances to do so and will not play in the Premiership opener against West Ham at Anfield.

Houllier feels so strongly on the issue that his England striker will still not be picked even if Emile Heskey fails to recover from flu in time to play.

'I don't care,' said Houllier. 'I am not worried about that. When players do something wrong they have to atone for it. I am quite sympathetic. I understand things. But if you ask me whether Robbie will play if Emile can't, I am answering you no. There is no ambiguity - unless something happens.'

Houllier added: 'The situation is that Robbie is not transfer-listed and he won't be transfer-listed. I want to be clear about that to put an end to false speculation. The second thing is that he knows my position. I think he understands the situation. Now it is down to him to solve it.'

Houllier also said that Fowler ought to count himself lucky as in the world beyond football such behaviour would be treated more harshly. 'If you insult your boss you maybe will be fired the following day, whereas sometimes we are a bit more understanding,' he said.

'It is a regrettable moment for the team and the club but I'm sure at some stage common sense will prevail. I am leaving it to him. I brokered a get-together between Phil and Robbie, which I attended at the beginning. Then I left the two Scousers together. But so far it has been unsuccessful.

'He had the opportunity to apologise on the spur of the moment. He had the opportunity to apologise after training. I took him aside the day after the incident and asked him, both him and Phil, to get together and sort things out. He refused.

'I waited until the Sunday lunchtime before the Charity Shield game. I again insisted yesterday. I took them together again. I think at some stage it will be solved. I am a patient man.'


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