Houllier singled out Manchester United striker Rooney, who failed to score in South Africa, for particular criticism.
The Frenchman said: "Probably the key to understanding why England didn't perform at the World Cup is that the top players didn't do as well as we could expect them to.
"I'm thinking mainly about Wayne Rooney. He's an outstanding player but whether he was tired or wasn't in good shape I don't know.
"If Rooney, who for me is a top player and finisher, had scored a few more goals maybe...
"If you look at the teams with one or two top finishers — Germany, Holland or Spain — they usually go forward. Uruguay went so far because of Diego Forlan.
"England were also unlucky because of the goal that was disallowed against Germany. It was a good goal."