Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has parted company with the club after six years in charge at Anfield.

The club’s directors ended Houllier’s six-year reign even though he earned the club a Champions League place for next season.

“I’d rather have stayed as manager but I leave on good terms with everybody. I may have left Liverpool, but Liverpool will not leave me,” said Houllier.

“I arrived here six years ago as a Liverpool supporter and I leave as an even bigger supporter,” he told the club website.

“I will return to watch the team as a fan.”

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said: “The board decided change was necessary if we were to realistically challenge for the title next season.”

Charlton’s Alan Curbishley and Rafael Benitez of Valencia are favourites to take over from Houllier.

Houllier arrived at Anfield for the 1998-99 season to share coaching duties with Roy Evans. He took sole charge in November 1998 after Evans was released by the club.

In 2000-2001 he enjoyed his best campaign – winning the UEFA Cup, FA Cup, League Cup and European Super Cup. In 2002-2003 he won the League Cup again, but by then, supporters were becoming increasinlgy frustrated with the club’s inability to challenge for the major honours.

Pressure on the manager grew this season with Liverpool failing to mount a challenge for the title and although Houllier guided them to 4th in the League, the board decided that a change was needed.