Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre has said the club will not be rushed into naming Kenny Dalglish's successor with potential candidates facing the tricky prospect of replacing a terrace hero who many feel was harshly treated. By Toby Davis
Former Chelsea boss Andre-Villas Boas, Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp and Wigan Athletic’s Roberto Martinez are among the early favourites to succeed Dalglish, who was sacked as manager on Wednesday.
“What we want is the best, what we don’t want is to choose quickly or choose because there’s a time pressure,” Ayre said on the club website on Thursday.
“It’ll be about finding the right person who can do the best job for Liverpool Football Club.”
Angry fans bombarded social media sites and phone-ins when it was announced that Dalglish’s tenure at the club had ended only 18 months into his second spell as manager, echoing fan reaction when popular boss Rafa Benitez left the club in 2010.
Despite an eighth-place Premier League finish and a series of disappointing forays in the transfer market, the 61-year-old Scot retained the faith of swathes of supporters who saw green shoots of recovery in the club’s successful cup campaigns.
Dalglish ended a six-year trophy drought by winning the League Cup in February while an impressive FA Cup campaign included victories over Manchester United and Everton before ending in a final defeat by Chelsea.
Dalglish, who won three league titles in his first spell as manager between 1985 and 1991, travelled to Boston earlier this week to meet the club’s principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner.
His summoning and his subsequent sacking have drawn the ire of fans, who feel he deserved at least another year to improve the club’s flagging results.
“I fear Liverpool’s American owners have made a mistake by getting rid of Kenny Dalglish as manager,” former Liverpool defender and television pundit Mark Lawrenson said in the Liverpool Daily Post.
“Twitter almost went into meltdown when it emerged Dalglish had flown over to Boston for showdown talks with Fenway Sports Group.
“I didn’t think Dalglish would have gone to Boston and be sacked. If John Henry had wanted to remove someone from his position, I’d have thought he’d fly across the pond to do it to the person’s face, such as with (former Director of Football Damien) Comolli. I guess I was wrong.”
Dalglish’s popularity could become a millstone for any new manager, who could find himself swiftly under pressure if results begin badly. Former boss Roy Hodgson struggled to win over Liverpool fans who were angry that the Champions League-winning Benitez had been ditched after just one poor campaign.
They quickly became vocal against the now England manager when results failed to pick up and he was sacked just six months into the job.
Liverpool are likely to target a young and hungry manager with title experience and the owners have made it clear the priority of any Liverpool coach is to find value in an over-heated transfer market. The new manager will have to decide if he needs to overhaul the squad or keep faith with the players Dalglish brought in during an expensive buy-British transfer policy that yielded little reward last season.
Dalglish spent heavily on the likes of Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing but these costs were largely offset by sales. A new manager may have to wheel and deal in a similar fashion.
While Liverpool’s trophy-laden history ensures they remain an attractive proposition, the sacking of Dalglish has shown the club are unlikely to show patience with a manager that fails to drag them back into contention for Champions League qualification.
The club are also keen to deny accusations that they are in a state of disarray heading into the transfer window, with no director of football following the sacking of Comolli and no first-team manager. “There is certainly no concern at my level or the board that we’re in disarray,” Ayre said.”We’re making the decisions we’re making and we’re doing the things we’re doing because they’re part of a bigger plan to take the football club forward.”
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