Houllier leaves hospital
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier was released from hospital on Thursday night as caretaker Gary McAllister said the club is still moving forward while he recovers from a heart problem.
Houllier was admitted to hospital just over a week ago after suffering chest pains. The Frenchman, who had major heart surgery while in charge of Liverpool, is almost certain not to return to Villa in an active role this season.
McAllister admitted there is a significant question mark over whether Houllier will be back at all given his medical history. But the caretaker boss has assured fans the wheels will still be in motion at Villa regarding new signings, players leaving and those who are currently out of contract.
McAllister said: "All these things that from the outside we seem to have to deal with over the next few weeks, we've been looking through already. Of course, it would be better if Gerard was here, but everything is place for things to move on. Whether it be attracting new players, or players coming to the end of their contract, a lot of decisions have already been made.''
McAllister added: "I agree with people who say the upheaval is unneeded but as a group we've become very close with the chairman (Randy Lerner) and chief executive (Paul Faulkner). There is a plan to move forward which is already there. As much as it would be ideal if Gerard was here, it can be done from his home because we're down the line on a few things.
"I don't have to give anything away, but I'm talking about people that might want to come here, people we want to try and attract here, people that want to stay, people that might have to find a club. We know the positions where we are strong but we also know where we need to strengthen. It's ongoing and you've got to be like that, you've got to be prepared to go into the market and get these deals through.''
McAllister has been delighted at the progress Houllier has made during the past week which has given him cause for optimism about his future.
But he accepts Houllier will ultimately make that decision.
McAllister said: "Can Houllier return to management? That's the big question down the line. That will be after he speaks to friends, family and people he respects but, most importantly, the doctors. There's no rush to be made on that decision. I'm sure he'll be recovering over here where there will be people on hand to deal with any queries. If he's given the green light to go and gets some warmer weather if it helps, I don't know. He'll be guided by the experts.''
Meanwhile, McAllister downplayed comments by leading sports cardiologist, Dr Duncan Dymond, who has been consulted by Chelsea in the past, that Houllier would be best advised to retire.
He said: "We are very appreciative of the concern of the guy but he doesn't know the case, he doesn't know the ins and outs of the case. He is speaking from afar and Gerard is going to be advised by the people who are looking after him, the people who know his history. We do appreciate this fellow's concern but he does not know the finer details of what has been the problem.''