Gerard Houllier has hit back at rival bosses Steve Bruce and Ian Holloway, alleging there is an agenda against foreign managers in the Barclays Premier League.
The Aston Villa manager had been accused by them of showing a lack of respect following his £24m signing of Sunderland striker Darren Bent and his pursuit of Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam.
But Houllier claimed he was an 'easy target' because 'I'm a foreign manager. I'm French. With another manager I'm sure it would be different'.
On the defensive: Houllier insists Villa went about signing Darren Bent (left) 'the right way'
Houllier insisted that Villa had done the Bent deal according to the rule book and hinted there was a lack of communication between Bruce and Sunderland chief executive Niall Quinn.
Houllier saved his most barbed comments for what he believes is a cosy coterie of bosses who would have adhered to Bruce's unofficial policy of tipping off a colleague over the potential transfer of one of his players.
The Sunderland manager said he would have welcomed a call from Houllier to 'mark his card' when Villa first decided to chase Bent. Houllier said Bruce was living in the past and urged the Wearsiders to make a formal complaint if they felt they had a case.
Hitting out: Bruce is furious with Houllier's conduct in the pursuit of Bent
Houllier said: 'When there's a transfer at that level it's done chairman to chairman or between the owners and the chief executive. Our chief executive, Paul Faulkner, kept me informed and I would assume that Niall Quinn would have done the same with Steve Bruce.
'If I told Steve I was trying to buy his player, he would go out and be vocal about it. He'd say, "This is scandalous", so we did things right. They had the facility to say "No". What has Gerard Houllier got to do with that?
In demand: Villa are among a number of clubs interested in Blackpool's influential skipper Charlie Adam
'At that point, I thought to myself,"Hang on, why is Steve having a go at me? Is he trying to protect himself from his fans?" All he had to say was, "This is football now".
'It wasn't gracious. Our club has been more than gracious. And if he feels I am culpable, I'm sorry for that. I was kept informed. I assumed he was.'
Houllier stirred the pot by adding heunderstood the initial contact had been made between the clubs after Sunderland's third-round FA Cup defeat by Notts County, two weeks ago.
On the warpath: Holloway claims Villa are trying to 'steal' Adam
And he reserved a cutting response for Holloway, who had threatened to upset Villa's bid for Adam by calling the Birmingham outfit a 'half-a***d club that used to be famous'.
'We did the right thing,' he said. 'We went to the club, we didn't go to the player and, funny enough, it came out from their side.
'Holloway says we are insulting him and the player and God knows what. But I don't care.'
Hell Bent on shooting down Man City! Darren aims to mark debut with winnerLiverpool weighed up Bent bid but £24m striker deemed not suitable to partner TorresShow some respect! Houllier is out to steal our Adam, blasts HollowayASTON VILLA FC