Gerard Houllier leaves role as Aston Villa manager

Aston Villa have confirmed the departure of Gerard Houllier as manager after only nine months in charge.

The 63-year-old Frenchman missed the final month of the season because of heart problems.

He had been expected to leave his post after undergoing tests this week.

Doctors advised that he will require further time to recuperate and Villa officials were said to be concerned a return to the dugout could cause further health issues.

In a statement, Houllier, who left his role as technical director at the France Football Federation (FFF) to take over at Villa, did not rule out the possibility of returning to the game.

He said: "I am extremely disappointed that I will not have the opportunity to manage Aston Villa next season.

"My health has improved considerably since I was taken ill on 20 April. I now intend to take the next few months to concentrate on recuperating fully before I may return to football.

"I was very much looking forward to the prospect of my first full season as Villa manager and returning for pre-season training.

We have already embarked upon the process which will lead to the appointment of a new manager

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner

"It has been an honour to manage this great club and I wish everyone connected with Aston Villa every success for the future."

In 2001, during his spell in charge of Liverpool, he had open heart surgery after suffering from chest pains during a home match against Leeds.

Houllier returned to take up the managerial reins at Anfield and remained there for another three years before he was sacked.

After leaving Liverpool, he led Lyon to two French titles before joining the FFF in 2007.

He was enticed back into management by Villa in September last year, signing a three-year deal.

But in April he was admitted to hospital with chest pains and Gary McAllister stepped in to help steer Villa away from relegation trouble.

One of Houllier's major decisions during his time at the club was to pay Sunderland £18m for striker Darren Bent, and the England international proved a good acquisition as he scored nine goals in 16 games to help ease Villa's relegation worries.

"It is sad for me to see Gerard go. He signed me and invested a lot of money in me," said Bent.

"He showed a lot of faith in me.

"But your health comes first and, if he's not well enough to come back, then he needs to take a break."

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner said: "I would like to thank Gerard for his considerable efforts over the past nine months and for the dedication, commitment and work ethic he has demonstrated as Villa manager.

"We regret the circumstances of Gerard's departure and, naturally, we wish him well in his continued recovery.

"I know I speak for everyone associated with Aston Villa in expressing our hope that Gerard will return to full health as quickly as possible and we wish him all the best for the future.

"As a board we are very conscious of the need to ensure that the club is prepared fully to meet the demands of the new season.

"To that end, we have already embarked upon the process which will lead to the appointment of a new manager."

Everton manager David Moyes, Fulham boss Mark Hughes, former England coach Steve McClaren and former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti have been linked with the post.