Houllier expects friendly Liverpool return

Houllier lifted half-a-dozen trophies during his six years in charge at Anfield and helped the club out of the doldrums before leaving in 2004. His focus is on helping Villa to move away from the bottom of the table but he has happy memories of his time at the Reds.

"I know the fans will welcome me, I'm sure because we had a close relationship and we worked together because the fans are part of the team," he said. "I know they contributed to the success that we had."

He added: "They will remember (the success) and the fans in Liverpool, when I went back for TV reasons, were always full of cheerful hospitality.

"It is a club I liked even before going there so, having spent six years there, and being together with some people, obviously you can't forget the club.

"I might feel something special when I get on the pitch just before the game. Before that, I will do my job and be focused on the team."

Houllier regrets the two surviving players from his era on Merseyside - Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher - will be ruled out through injury.

He played a big part in the development of Gerrard and Carragher into the key players they have been at Anfield for more than a decade.

He said: "I would have wished Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher would be playing against us because I like them as men and as players.

"Unfortunately both of them will be absent. I wish Jamie the quickest recovery ever. I think Stevie will be back maybe one week later.I'm not one who says 'I'm happy they are not playing' I would have liked them to play against my team."

Source: PA

Source: PA