Friday, 4 June 2010

KopStuff 4/6/10 - King Kenny in The Frame as Liverpool Search for New Manager

Friday 4th June.

It’s the morning after the night before, and Anfield wakes up managerless; six years of Rafa Benitez stewardship consigned to the history books. An FA Cup, European Super Cup and that famous European Cup will be his official record, a team languishing outside of the top four his legacy.

Protests occurred, noises were made, but the decision was taken to relieve the Spaniard of his position, a £6million compensation package to sweeten the deal.

Benitez was still a popular figure amongst Red’s fans, despite guiding the team to seventh place last season. Most placed the blame for the club’s failures firmly at the feet of the American owners; their boardroom squabbles and inability to provide substantial investment muddying the Anfield waters. Throughout, the manager himself became almost an icon of rebellion; a like-minded figure, a symbol of dissent; forever afforded goodwill after the heroics of Istanbul.

Now, in the cold light of day, the hunt is on for a new manager, with managing director Christian Purslow and Kop legend Kenny Dalglish instrumental in the search. Speculation is mounting that Dalglish himself could take over the reins - based largely on comments attributed to Phil Thompson, rather than anything from within the club. The rumour mill is already in full spin, with over ten names in the frame, although the board have stressed that they will not be rushed into making an appointment. One thing is for certain though - after spending £6million dispatching Benitez to the footballing scrapheap, it is unlikely that they will be wanting to spend too much in compensation to prise another manager away from his club.

Below, we have a look at the main runners and riders for the Liverpool manager’s job.

As previously mentioned, one name in the frame is former player and manager Kenny Dalglish. But what are the actual chances of King Kenny himself taking over the vacant position? A cluster of Anfield legends have been quick to throw their weight behind the iconic Scot, despite him having been out of managerial work for some time. Jamie Redknapp, Bruce Grobelaar and Phil Thompson have all argued for the stability that Dalglish’s appointment would bring to the club, and the backing of the fans is without question. Kenny would fit the other important criteria of being relatively cheap, being already on the Anfield payroll as a club ambassador. But despite these factors, it is unlikely that Dalglish himself would want the position. Having been involved in the club’s glory years, both as a player and a manager, would he be willing to risk his reputation by taking on a club in severe trouble, both off and on the pitch?

Roy Hodgson is another favourite who may also be available on the cheap. The Fulham man is believed to be on a one-year rolling contract, so any compensation would be negligible, certainly below £2million. His tactical nous has helped Fulham to the Europa League Finals, but would he be able to guide the Reds back into Champions League contention? Would the Anfield job be a step too far for the former Inter Milan manager?

Sven Goran Eriksson is another intriguing possibility, with the former England and Manchester City man currently managing the Ivory Coast. The Swede has always made it clear that he would like another crack at the Premier League, and is likely to have an escape clause in his contract with the African side. Any approach would have to wait until after the World Cup, meaning an unsettled summer at Anfield, with a transfer embargo likely.

Martin O’Neill has repeatedly been linked with the Anfield hot seat, along with most jobs in English football. The Aston Villa manager may have been available a season ago, after his relationship with chairman Randy Lerner became strained. However, assurances about his position and transfer funds led the Irishman to commit his future to the Midlands club, and an approach is unlikely to be welcome from either the board or the man himself.

Manuel Pelligrini, the recently sacked Real Madrid manager is another name mentioned in the press, with the Chilean having a further feather in his cap of speaking both fluent Spanish and English. Keeping Rafa’s Spanish contingent happy would be a prime responsibility of any manager working with limited funds.

Rank outsider is ex-Manc Mark Hughes. Several newspapers have touted the ex-Manchester City manager as a possible successor, with Hughes having been unemployed since the winter. With a new stadium still on the agenda, the board may be looking to save on demolition costs here, as Anfield would more than likely be burned to the ground if Sparky was appointed.

Whoever is appointed, their first job will be to assure the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres that the club will be competing for silverware in the coming season.

That’s assuming that those players haven’t already been sold to ease the club’s mounting debts before the new manager is even named…

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