Chelsea's cardiologist tells Gerard Houllier to quit

Gerard Houllier has been advised to walk away from football by a leading sports cardiologist.

The Aston Villa manager remains in hospital after complaining of chest pains last week, and although he is nearing the point where he can return home, there remain serious doubts about whether he will return to work with assistant Gary McAllister taking control of team affairs until the end of the season.

Houllier, 63, has suffered from heart problems before, needing five months out of the game while in charge of Liverpool in 2001.

Dr Duncan Dymond, who has been consulted by Chelsea in the past, this morning told TalkSport that Houllier would be best advised to retire.

"My own assessment, without knowing Gerard Houllier or having seen him, quite frankly he's had one brush with the grim reaper already and now's he had one serious warning, and to put himself through this again with the stresses and strains of being a football manager, I think he should call it a day," Dymond said.

Houllier suffered from a dissection of the descending aorta, a condition where layers of the of the main vessel out of the heart can come apart, allowing blood to force its way out.

Dymond warned that the condition was "very dangerous" and added: "When you've had a defection once, you're more likely to get it again."

"One of the major risks of this is blood pressure," he said. "You only have to look at the pressure managers are under on the touchline.

"Their faces go red, the veins stand up in their necks, they get a bad decision and their blood pressure goes up. A lot of managers went through an assessment and their blood pressures go up to the sky."

Villa may well already be planning for life without Houllier, who has struggled to turn things around since taking over in September with the club still reeling from Martin O'Neill's exit on the eve of the season's start.

Reports this morning linked them with a move for former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, out of work since leaving Inter Milan.

Houllier released a statement last night to thank fans for their messages of support, but made no mention of whether he might return to Villa in the future.

Dymond hopes he is advised not to, adding: "If you've seen pictures of Sam Allardyce and Roy Hodgson, classic pictures of them you can find, when they're really getting wound up, their blood pressures can go up into the sky for the time they're under stress.

"It may come down again but we know those acutely stressful times, a car accident, losing your job, bereavement, financial stress, all those things can elevate blood pressure and precipitate a heart attack out of the blue, and so that's why in Gerard Houllier's case I think he'd be well advised not to do this any more."

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