Houllier stands by Liverpool record after Morgan's attack

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The Independent Online

Gerard Houllier yesterday hit back at criticism of his managerial record by Liverpool's aspiring financial saviour, Steve Morgan, claiming his team have not been given the credit they deserve for a likely fourth-place finish in the Premiership this season.

Gerard Houllier yesterday hit back at criticism of his managerial record by Liverpool's aspiring financial saviour, Steve Morgan, claiming his team have not been given the credit they deserve for a likely fourth-place finish in the Premiership this season.

Morgan, whose proposal to provide up to £73m of new funds was rejected by Liverpool's board on Thursday, has attacked Houllier's transfer policy and despaired at what he feels has been a steep decline in the club's fortunes. He has also said that Houllier "was in the sixth year of his five-year plan".

The Frenchman said yesterday: "I totally refute that... When I took over it was mid-season and I had nothing to do with the formation of that squad. My work really started in the summer of 1999. In five seasons we have finished three times in the Champions' League and twice in the Uefa Cup. That is what we have done. There is work to do in the summer, I accept that.

"We have missed the target of the title, I accept that too, this season. But I do not think we would have won it this season because Arsenal are in a different league at the moment."

On the subject of his transfer policy, he added: "I accept that some signings have not delivered enough. It happens at other clubs, we are not the only ones. It has happened to Newcastle. It is not a mistake. It would be if we had not delivered anything, but it is three times in the Champions' League now and five trophies."

Houllier added that it was wrong of Morgan to suggest some players lack pride in the club. "I feel our achievement this week has been overshadowed by what has happened and been said," he said.

Morgan was still waiting yesterday to hear when or if he will be invited by the board to discuss his offer further. As it stands, he would only inject all of the £73m offered if no other investors subscribed to the rights issues he is proposing. If that happened, he would take a majority - and controlling - interest in the club, which would spell the end for Houllier.

Liverpool are also considering a £60m bid for 30 per cent of the club from the prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, who estimated yesterday that his chances had improved to "51-49".

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