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By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has praised the work of his Anfield successor Rafael Benitez.
Houllier was angry at reports that he has been critical of Benitez since the Spaniard took over at Liverpool.

But Houllier told BBC Sport: "In private and in public, I have stressed I believe Rafa is doing a good job. He is the right man at the right place.

"Rafa is a good coach and a good man. I've spoken to him since he has been at Liverpool and never criticised him."

Houllier also revealed he is now ready to return to the game after leaving Liverpool in May following six years at Anfield.

The former France boss has been linked with a host of jobs and pulled out of the race to succeed Mark Hughes as Wales national coach.

He has been working for Uefa, covering the Premiership for French television and also coaching in Brazil with national coach Carlos Alberto Perreira.

Houllier said: "If a good club comes up at the right time then yes, I am ready to come back.

"It has been interesting to watch games from a different perspective and I have learned things.

"I have been involved in football since leaving Liverpool and my batteries are recharged."

Houllier has been impressed with the quality in the Premiership after watching as a pundit - particularly with Jose Mourinho's work at leaders Chelsea.

He said: "Chelsea are doing very well. They have some very good creative players in Damien Duff and Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba showed he can change the face of a game when he came on against Newcastle.

"They have got a good team spirit and are strong mentally. They have shown they can cope with all the pressure put on them because of the expectations and cope well with Jose's principles.

"Jose had results before he came to Chelsea and I think he will have an impact in the Premiership because he manages his team very cleverly."

And Houllier, away from his brief at Liverpool, has been hugely impressed with the Premiership.

He said: "It is a very exciting league. It is entertaining, goals are scored and teams are always trying to win.

"It has been very interesting to watch the game from a different perspective.

"Games switch from end-to-end and there is more pace to the Premiership than other leagues. It is a very good product."
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