Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has apologised to the club's fans for remarks he made following the side's 3-0 Premier League defeat by Liverpool at Anfield on Monday. Villa have now lost their last three league matches and are just two points above the relegation zone.
Former Liverpool manager Houllier angered many Villa supporters by saying after his first match back at Anfield: "If I have got to lose 3-0, I would prefer it to be to them as I like Liverpool."
But the Frenchman tried to clarify his remarks by telling Villa's official website on Wednesday: "To the fans who travelled to Liverpool and to all Villa supporters, let me assure that we are working as hard as we possibly can to achieve the level of success which this great club aspires to. Everybody is hurting because of recent results and I and my staff are working on putting this right.
"No one likes to lose 3-0 against any team and, if comments I made in the immediate aftermath of our defeat by Liverpool have been misconstrued - comments which were intended to be humorous, by the way - let me put them into context.
"The experiences I enjoyed with Liverpool some years ago will always stay with me, as will many experiences I have had in football both before and since, and I have taken all these experiences into my job as manager of Aston Villa.
"I understand the fans' feelings of hurt and disappointment at the moment - I am hurting as much as anybody, believe me - and I say emphatically that we will battle through. Building lasting success at Aston Villa is my focus and my commitment to this challenge is resolute.
"It is down to us collectively as a club to work hard to bring joy and success to the fans because the fans are the most important. They are passionate, vocal and fantastic, which I stated when I first came here.
"They know we are in this together and their support will be vital on Saturday for our game against West Bromwich Albion."