7 Prem managers who faced emotional returns as Gerrard’s Villa take on Liverpool

Liverpool have many legends – but none are quite as revered as Steven Gerrard.

This Saturday will be the first time the newly-appointed Aston Villa manager will step out onto the turf at Anfield, hear the roar of the crowd, only on this occasion hope that the same fans won’t be so raucous by the end of the match.

He said in a recent press conference: "'I think the noise is for other people to get excited about. For me, it's about preparing the team in the best way I can to try and get a positive result for Aston Villa and that's the way I will be."

But the occasion isn't the first that a club hero has gone on to face their previous club.

From Rafa Benitez to Glenn Hoddle, here we take you through some of the more notable examples.

Gerard Houllier – Liverpool

"If you want me to apologise, I apologise. Even if I don't feel I have done something wrong in terms of intentions," said Houllier after Aston Villa fans blasted his actions when returning to Anfield in December 2010.

The Frenchman infuriated the travelling support by touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign before kick-off – how dare he? – and failing to acknowledge their support at the end of Villa’s 3-0 loss.

Houllier issued a statement the day after the match, saying that he understood the "fans' feeling of hurt".

Even still, the former Reds manager enjoyed a nice reception from the home support, so that’s something.

Rafa Benitez – Liverpool

How do you expect Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa will fare at Anfield on Saturday? Let us know in the comments section.

When Chelsea came to Anfield in April 2013, the Blues’ anger at Rafa Benitez’s appointment as their interim coach was well documented.

It’s likely what inspired Reds fans to chant: “ Rafa's right, your fans are sh***!"on the day. Quite ingenious.

The game finished 2-2 and the Blues went fourth – but away from the furore of the Spaniard's return, the real talking point after the game was Luis Suarez’s bite on Branislav Ivanovic.

David Moyes – Everton

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David Moyes went from plucky underdog to one of the most hated men in the Blue side of Liverpool in quick succession.

Maybe we’re stretching the word ‘emotional’ a bit too much here, but as the Scot faced Everton for the first time as Manchester United boss in December 2013, the travelling Toffees fans were very vocal in their disdain of the manager.

Costa Rican defender Bryan Oviedo struck four minutes from time and United succumbed to a 1-0 loss to the away side. Everton fans were raucous at full-time, schadenfreude galore.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer- Manchester United

Cardiff City appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in January 2014 as they battled relegation in the Premier League and in the same month he faced his former – and beloved – club Man United.

The Welsh side lost 2-0 at Old Trafford, with then-record signing Juan Mata making his debut in red.

He enjoyed a warm welcome back but Solskjear would find better joy at United years later, in what’s somewhat considered their best post-Ferguson appointment.

Kevin Keegan – Newcastle

Kevin Keegan was in the dugout at Maine Road, overseeing newly-promoted Manchester City’s game against high-flying Newcastle in August 2002.

The Toon Army gave King Kev a brilliant reception from the away end – but were devastated to see their former player Darren Huckerby get on the scoresheet to give the Citizens an invaluable three points.

Keegan returned to Newcastle once again as manager five years later but failed to register the same impact as what he had done in the 1990s.

Patrick Vieria – Arsenal

Patrick Vieria received a great reception from the Gunners at the Emirates before kick-off.

"I don't want to say I expected it but when you spend nine years at a club like that and I was part of a generation who did well for the club, it meant a lot to me," said the 45-year-old after the game.

Crystal Palace held their own and a hard-fought 2-2 draw was of frustration to both sides – not least for the Eagles who were ahead until the 95th minute.

BBC Sport’s journalist Emlyn Begley reported after the game: “For long periods, home fans may have been wondering if they have the right former Gunners captain in charge in Arteta.”


Glenn Hoddle – Tottenham

We couldn’t finish this list without featuring this absolute classic – Glenn Hoddle became player-manager of Chelsea in the summer of 1993.

One of the first games his side had to play were against his former club Tottenham.

At White Hart Lane, Teddy Sheringham got on the scoresheet with a late penalty to deny Tony Cascarino’s opener.

Hoddle featured 19 times throughout the course of the season – but he could not help Chelsea make a decent go at the Premier League, the side finishing 14th with just a FA Cup runners-up place to enjoy.

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