Liverpool: Who will replace King Kenny at Anfield?
The King, Kenny Dalglish, was relieved of his duties at Anfield following the club’s worst seasons in years. Despite reaching two cup finals and adding the Carling Cup to the already glittering Anfield trophy cabinet, Liverpool’s awful league position, the mishandling of the Luis Suarez race row, embarrassing interviews and the waste of £100 million in signings, ultimately forced FSG to wield the axe.
For many Kenny remains the King. And so he should. He has served the club well as player and manager and will always be welcomed back to Anfield. However, there was a general acceptance that Dalglish had to go. It doesn’t matter how much of a hero you are, if you can’t get the team to perform you have to be moved on.
Now the search begins for the man who can take Liverpool back into contention of winning silverware, competing for the title and the all important Champions League slots.
As you would expect for such a prestigious position as this, there are a number of top names already being linked with the vacant post. Here I will run through the main runners and riders and assess their credentials.
The former Chelsea boss lasted only nine months under Roman Abramovich at Stamford Bridge but could he be on the verge of a sensational move back to the Premier League? AVB is only 34 but he won the treble in his first season at Porto, including becoming the youngest manager ever to clinch a European trophy. It was that winning mentality that made Abramovich desperate to sign him up.
AVB’s troubles at Chelsea started when he was instructed to clear out the older, more expensive players like Drogba, Lampard and Terry. This of course didn’t go down too well. He didn’t help himself either by the way he went about it. Player power won and he was eventually axed. Would he suffer the same problem at Anfield? I don’t think so. There are a lot of young talented players at Anfield that AVB could mould and shape into better players.
The Portuguese boss has the credentials to be a hit in England, but will he be given the task of reviving Liverpool’s fortunes?
The Wigan boss is a man in demand and he would be crazy not to jump at the chance of managing a side like Liverpool, but has this opportunity come too soon in his managerial career? The Spaniard is reportedly high on the hitlist of the board, even though he has had to beat the drop with the Latics in the past two seasons.
It’s a double edged sword. You can tell that Martinez has something special about him. Anyone who can make Gary Caldwell look exceptional is worthy of praise. The Latics don’t have an awful lot of money but Martinez has moulded a side which really found its feet in the past few months. However, it is a huge gamble. Would he be able to cope with the demands of the Liverpool fans? The likes of Mick McCarthy, Steve Bruce and Sam Allardyce are accustomed to fighting relegation. Winning silverware and turning clubs around takes a very special talent.
Martinez will obviously manage a huge club at one stage and his philosophy is to be commended, but he is still a relative novice. Can Liverpool really afford to take such a gamble?
The Spaniard is like Marmite at Anfield, you either love him or hate him. Even though he was the last manager to bring such riches to the club, some felt that he had overstayed his time on Merseyside. His loyal supporters will point to the epic Champions League win in 2005 and the return in 2007. His detractors though will highlight his inability to produce a consistent run of form in the league.
Benitez left the club in the summer of 2010 after finishing only seventh in the Premier League and was criticised for his belief in squad rotation and zonal marking. He has been out of work since December 2010 following a less than successful stint at Inter Milan and would love a return to Anfield.
However, they say you should never go back as you will never be able to match your initial record. Look at Dalglish for instance. Benitez obviously loves Liverpool and a large section of the fans would love him back to finish off what he started. It would be a controversial appointment, but could he be the man to make Liverpool great again?
In a similar position to Martinez, Rodgers has a great future ahead of him. He conducts himself professionally on and off the pitch, has his Swansea side playing great attacking football and has an eye for a player. But would he be able to meet the demands of the Liverpool fans?
His Swansea side beat Liverpool on the final day of the season and Mr Henry will have noted what Rodgers has achieved at such a relatively small club on a limited budget. I’m sure Liverpool fans would love to see their team passing the opposition off the pitch, but more than that they want to be winning silverware. Can Rodgers achieve that?
There’s no doubt in my mind that Rodgers will manage a top six side. Unless the board want to appoint a manager with a long-term plan and philosophy and not expect instant rewards, then I think this post has come too soon for both Martinez and Rodgers.
The former England manager has a glittering CV and has won trophies at every level of the game. He recently stated that he would love to manage in the Premier League so could Anfield be his next port of call?
The Italian’s lack of English was also a major problem, especially with those in the media, but you can’t argue with his record. He has won titles and cups in three countries and he would love to make it four. Could his dream become a reality at Liverpool?
Kenny Dalglish took Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique from Newcastle last year. Now could the board raid St James’ Park for their manager Alan Pardew? The Premier League manager of the year has been a tremendous hit in the north east. His signings, tactics and demeanour have oozed class and quality and Mr Henry will have been impressed by what Pardew has achieved with little money.
However, Pardew has the chance to test himself in Europe next season. Something that Liverpool just can’t offer. Is Liverpool a bigger club than Newcastle? Yes – just look at their histories. Will he be tempted? Probably – who wouldn’t be? But will he go? I don’t think so.
Currently manager of Bundesliga champions Borrusia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp has been voted manager of the year for the second season running in Germany. He has overthrown the might of Bayern Munich to win the title in successive seasons and boasts a 57 per cent win record since he took charge in 2008.
Klopp began his playing days as a striker before being converted to a defender. This experience has obviously served him well as he can pinpoint problems at both ends of the pitch. He has proved himself to be a winner and a very capable manager, but he has never managed in England. Although football is a universal sport, the English game is different in so many ways.
It’s unlikely given his past with Liverpool and the fact that Liverpool can’t offer him millions to throw at players or be able to entice him with European football next season, but Mourinho always loves a challenge and this may be one that he could not afford to turn down.
Mourinho has always claimed that he will be back in England one day to manage but the smart money has always been on a Manchester club. After winning La Liga with Real Madrid, toppling Barcelona and coming so close to reaching the Champions League final, will Jose be tempted to leave for a fresh challenge or remain at the Bernabeu until he brings back the European Cup.
He may not be everyone’s favourite cup of tea but you cannot argue with his results. By hook or by crook, Mourinho wins silverware and is one of the best managers in the game. If Mr Henry could land Mourinho then the future really would look bright for the club.
Other names in the frame include Frank Rijkaard, Didier Deschamps, Louis Van Gaal, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klinsmann and Guus Hiddink, to name but a few. But who would you like to see in the dugout at Anfield in August?
Whatever your view, we’d love to hear from you.