The circus never stops performing at Liverpool Football Club. Just 16 months after Kenny Dalglish was professed as the saviour for Liverpool’s turmoil, he as been removed from his position by Liverpool owners John Henry and Tom Werner.
The rumours started to circulate yesterday that Dalglish had either walked away or had been pushed by Fenway Sports Group but it looked as though he had survived for another season last night as he arrived home from Boston after talks with the owners regarding the season that has just ended and plans for the future. The club refused to comment yesterday whether Dalglish was to be backed for the foreseeable future or if they would look elsewhere for the man to put Liverpool back where they need to be.
This afternoon however, Liverpool Football Club announced that Kenny Dalglish’s managerial contract has been terminated and that the search for a new manager will begin immediately. Principal owner John Henry was keen to exemplify the admiration that everyone involved with the club feels, and will forever feel about Dalglish:
“Kenny will always be more than a championship winning manager, more than a championship winning star player. He is in many ways the heart and soul of the club. He personifies everything that is good about Liverpool Football Club. He has always put the Club and its supporters first. Kenny will always be a part of the family at Anfield.
“Our job now is to identify and recruit the right person to take this Club forward and build on the strong foundations put in place during the last 18 months.”
Chairman Tom Werner was equally praising of Dalglish but was adamant that “results in the Premier League have been disappointing,” and that to achieve the kind of success the club and indeed the fans desperately hope for, “we need to make a change.”
It was a change many fans had expected. The writing was on the wall for Dalglish leading up to the FA Cup final at the beginning of the month in a game which would make or break his chances of staying on as Liverpool manager. Liverpool’s league season had been a failure with the club looking set to finish a place lower than last season and suffer their lowest ever Premier League points total. The Carling cup was won in February and the club looked to be getting back to winning ways but since then there were unacceptable performances and defeats in the league and a poor first half of the FA Cup final resulted in Liverpool having too much to do to turn around Chelsea’s 2-0 lead, ending the match with a 2-1 defeat.
In terms of whether the fans think this is the right move for the football club, the opinion is split. Whilst most fans feel let down and believe that this is not the Liverpool way to sack another manager after so little time, certainly when it’s a Liverpool legend, there are others who have taken a more realistic, less sentimental approach; for the large fees spent on transfers that ultimately flopped and for a position as low as eighth place, below rivals Everton and 37 points behind Premier League winners Manchester City, this decision has fundamentally been made. Dalglish will always be a Liverpool legend and a man who the fans will perpetually shower with affection but there have been mistakes made and signs that Dalglish was out of touch with some aspects of the modern day game.
The club must now act meticulously in order to sign the right manager up. A lot of time has been lost over the last few years with the wrong appointment of Roy Hodgson and the transitional period of a returning manager coming back to steady the ship and instil the feel good factor back into Liverpool. The favourites at the moment are Roberto Martinez of Wigan who has enjoyed another remarkable turnaround from staring relegation in the face yet again to finishing 7 points clear of the drop. A return for Rafa Benitez who enjoyed 5 seasons with the reds from 2004-2010 winning the Champions League, FA Cup and reaching another Champions League final whilst coming as close as any other Liverpool manager in 20 years of winning the much coveted title in 2009. Outside these two, names such as Fabio Capello, Andres Villas-Boas and the managers of two of the promoted clubs of the season just concluded, who have enjoyed very impressive campaigns in Brendan Rogers of Swansea and Rickie Lambert of Norwich.
Liverpool need to get this managerial appointment completely right. For me there is only one man who the fans would unquestionably love to see in the hot seat and that is Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard is still very much popular with the fans, many of whom now appreciate how spoilt they were under the lofty heights he took the club to and there can be no denying that the sacking of him in 2010 by the previous owners was wrong and unforgivable. Rafa has unfinished business with Liverpool and if anyone is going to be the man to achieve that prize that has so painfully eluded Liverpool for 20 years, the Premier League title, then it will be Benitez. Could we have another Rafalution on our hands?