I was hurting as much as the fans – Houllier

Gerard Houllier has apologised to Aston Villa fans upset with his behaviour on his return to former club Liverpool last Monday.

Villa supporters have been voicing their opinions since the 3-0 defeat at Anfield left their side two points above the relegation zone.

They were unhappy Houllier, who managed the Reds between 1998 and 2004, touched the 'This is Anfield' sign above the tunnel on his way on to the pitch.

At the end of the game, the Frenchman waved to the home fans and did not acknowledge the travelling Villa support.

Then in his post-match press conference, Houllier said: "If I was going to lose 3-0 to anyone, it would be Liverpool as I like Liverpool."

Houllier issued a midweek statement trying to explain his actions, but without actually apologising. But he adopted a difference stance at his press conference ahead of today's home encounter with West Brom.

He said: "If the fans think (what I did) was to hurt them, then I am sorry because this was not the case. It was just done in a humorous way and I am hurting as much they are. I was probably more hurt because it was Liverpool.

"If it adds to the fans' dissatisfaction, they have to know this was not the case at all (to upset them). This was done in a sort of a humorous way.

"I am sorry. That's it. That's enough.

"There was also a story that I touched the tunnel. I've done it for six years because that is under the tunnel where I was sick and it meant something."

Houllier was referring to the heart scare he had during a game at Anfield in October 2001.

The Frenchman added: "Had we won 3-0, no one would have talked about that. No one would say anything about that."

West Brom midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu has been warned to learn from his mistakes on his return from suspension.

Mulumbu collected his second red card in the space of four matches during the 4-1 win at Everton a fortnight ago and had to serve a two-game ban.

He had previously been given his marching orders when the Baggies went down 2-0 to Manchester City at the Hawthorns.

He has been a key figure in Albion's best start to a season in the Barclays Premier League – 22 points from 16 games. But head coach Roberto Di Matteo said: "I spoke to the player (Mulumbu) and he is a young player and he needs to learn from his mistakes.

"We need to give a bit of attention to the fact that our players are young and still learning how to manage games.

"Youssouf has been a bit unlucky but he needs to make sure it doesn't happen again in the future. He is a committed player but, if we talk about the last sending off at Everton, he got the first booking for going into the crowd.

"The second one was harsh because it wasn't a bad tackle at all. He got the ball and didn't really hurt the other player.

"But that is how the game is now."