On January 8th 2011, former Reds manager Roy Hodgson was sacked as Liverpool manager after losing the support of the players, fans and most importantly, the Liverpool board after losing to Blackburn Rovers 3-1 at Ewood Park three days earlier. Liverpool were in 12th position in the Premier League and were preparing for an FA Cup clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford so they needed to turn to a ‘messiah’ to get them out of their current mess. On the same day that Hodgson was sacked, Kenny Dalglish was brought in to change Liverpool’s fortunes and many supporters believed that the good times could return to Merseyside.
Despite losing the FA Cup clash against Manchester United in his first game in charge of Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish changed the fortunes of the club with the help of deadline day signings for Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez who cost £22 million and Andy Carroll for a club record fee of £35 million. However, Carroll has so far failed to live up to his price tag unlike his strike partner Suarez who has been tremendous for Liverpool since he moved from Ajax on deadline day in January 2011. Liverpool finished the season in 6th place and were knocked out of the Europa League by Braga but signs pointed that Dalglish had got Liverpool moving forwards rather than backwards.
High hopes of coming fourth this season began well for Liverpool and by Christmas, were only three points away from fourth spot but since the start of 2012, Liverpool’s form has dropped despite Dalglish’s men winning the League Cup on penalties against Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium, their first trophy in six years. In their last six games in the Premier League, Liverpool have only picked up three points and questions about Dalglish’s future are growing by each game and it appears that even the fans are starting to lose patience with the Liverpool boss.
So is there a possibility that King Kenny could leave Liverpool before the start of the 2012-13 season in August? In his previous reign as Liverpool boss, Dalglish left Liverpool on health grounds in 1991 as the impact of the Hillsborough disaster took it’s toll on him. This time, pressure from the media could lead him to stepping aside as Liverpool boss especially if his side were to finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table and lose to rivals Everton in the semi-finals of the FA Cup in a few weeks time.
There’s no doubt about it that the Liverpool job is one of the most prestigious in European football so it could take time for the Liverpool board and owner John W. Henry to pick the right man for the job if indeed Dalglish’s steps down as Liverpool manager before the start of the 2012-13 season.
Here’s a possible list of candidates that could be tempted to bring back the good times on Merseyside in August:
Martin O’Neill: (Currently Sunderland Manager)
Martin O’Neill has changed the fortunes of Sunderland FC in a space of a couple months. Sunderland were in a difficult position before O’Neill came in and since winning his first game against Blackburn, Sunderland have been getting stronger and stronger and our now in 9th position in the Premier League table, one place below Liverpool. At Aston Villa, he kept Aston Villa in the top half of the Premier League table and he got Aston Villa to their first final in 10 years but he lost out to Premier League champions Manchester United in the League Cup final. At his time at Celtic, he got Celtic into the Uefa Cup final, defeating Liverpool on the way but Celtic cruelly lost out 3-2 in extra time to Porto, who was coached by an unknown Jose Mourinho at the time. During his five years with the Hoops, O’Neill won three League titles, three Scottish Cups, and a League Cup. O’Neill was one of the favorites for the Liverpool job when Rafa Benitez left in June 2010 but Roy Hodgson was ultimately appointed as the Spaniard’s successor. No doubt about it that O’Neill deserves a shot at a big club and Liverpool could be the right fit for him but I think Sunderland will have something to say about that.
Fabio Capello: (Currently Unemployed)
Former England boss Fabio Capello could be intrigued with the challenge of managing in England after club spells in Italy and Spain where he won one Champions League (with AC Milan) and eight league titles, four with AC Milan, one with AS Roma, two with Real Madrid and two with Juventus (However these were revoked because of Calciopoli). Capello would have an expansive knowledge of the English game after his spell with the English national team but he did say that he would never manage again after leaving England in February. However, the American owners could tempt Italian into trying to reverse the fortunes of the football club and the idea could prove fascinating to Fabio Capello.
Jose Mourinho (Currently Real Madrid Manager)
The two-time Champions League winner has had a mixed two years at the Los Blancos to date, despite winning the Copa Del Rey last season. The Spanish media haven’t liked the way he’s acted at times and reports say that Mourinho has had enough and wants to return back to England, where he had an successful four years at Chelsea. Mourinho has recently said that he would like to return back “home” in England and if Liverpool are looking for the very best, than Mourinho fits the bill perfectly. Things could have been so different for Liverpool as they monitored Mourinho’s progress during his time at Porto and were close to getting him until Chelsea appointed him as manager in 2004. The problem of getting Mourinho is that he currently the highest paid manager in football at the moment and Liverpool will be unlikely to match his wage bill. However, despite the confrontations with Liverpool fans during the years, I’m sure they would welcome him if he did indeed return to England in August.
Andre Villas-Boas (Currently Unemployed)
Even though his stint at Chelsea was largely unsuccessful, you can’t doubt the managerial qualities of the Portuguese man. Villas-Boas inherited a team at Chelsea that wasn’t his and was forced out of the club by trying to change things. Before that at Porto, he won the Portuguese Primeira Liga, the UEFA Europa League and the Portuguese Cup and went the 2010-11 season unbeaten in his first season at Porto. However, the way the media treated Villas-Boas may put him off and according to reports, he wants the Inter Milan job in the summer but that may depend on how well caretaker and youth team manager Andrea Stramaccioni does until the end of the season. If he does takes the reign at Liverpool, he will need to be given time to change things at the club unlike at Chelsea but Liverpool football club needs and deserves instinct success so it’s unlikely that Villas-Boas will be returning to England anytime soon.
Rafa Benitez (Currently Unemployed)
The man that delivered success to Liverpool by winning the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League and ran Manchester United close in the title race just three years ago. Benitez has now been out of work for nearly a year after leaving Inter Milan and despite winning Inter the FIFA Club World Cup in 2010, he was sacked five days later after a dispute with Inter’s President Massimo Moratti. Benitez has been linked with a number of jobs since his departure from Inter and he declared a few weeks ago that he was interested in the Chelsea job after Villas-Boas’s sacking but that honour was given to Roberto Di Matteo. The Liverpool fans still admire Benitez for what he achieved at Liverpool and Benitez has always been made donations to the Hillsborough Family Support Group after leaving the club. However, the reason Benitez was sacked was because he finished 7th in the Premier League in his final season and nothing has proved since then that he could help Liverpool’s troubles this time around.
Manuel Pelligrini (Currently Malaga Manager)
Pelligrini has had an interesting managerial career to date. The Chilean boss guided Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2005-06 but were eventually beaten by Arsenal and then he joined Real Madrid as the first manager in Florentino Pérez’s second stint as Real Madrid president in 2009. He later went and bought Kaka, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo during that transfer window as Madrid president Perez wanted a new set of ‘Galacticos’ to compete with Barcelona’s treble winning side. Despite achieving a record 96 points in La Liga, being the highest points total that Real Madrid has achieved in a La Liga season, they finished three points behind Barcelona and were knocked out of the Champions League by Lyon in the Round of 16 with a 2–1 aggregate loss. Pelligrini was harshly sacked that summer and Jose Mourinho was brought in but Pelligrini was only out of work for a short period of time and is now manager of big spending Malaga. Pelligrini has been linked with the Liverpool job in the past and he did get a Villarreal team with limited resources into the Champions League so it could prove a match made in heaven. However, his lack of English could prove a problem and he has dismissed any speculation of joining other clubs by saying he’s committed to the project at Malaga.
Marcelo Bielsa (Currently Athletic Bilbao Manager)
Marcelo “Madman” Bielsa has worked wonders in his first season at Bilbao this season. He’s impressed everyone with his brilliant style of football and has guided Athletic to the Europa League quarters-finals, dispatching Manchester United in the previous round. Athletic are 11th in La Liga but are only currently five points away from Europe again next season and their position in the table could prove meaningless regarding Europe if they beat Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final on May 25th. Even Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola praised the Argentine by labelling Bielsa as “the best coach on the planet.” Bielsa would certainly bring a lot of style to Liverpool’s football but he’s not a man to turn his back on things and it looks odds on he will stay on as Athletic manager and will most likely become Guardiola’s successor at Barcelona when the time comes.
Frank Rijkaard (Currently Saudi Arabian National Manager)
Since leaving Barcelona in 2008, Rijkaard’s career has gone somewhat downhill. At one stage, he was the best manager in the world after guiding Barcelona to their second European cup in 2006 and two successive La Liga titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Rijkaard became Galatasaray’s manager in the summer of 2009 but he struggled with the high expectations at the Turkish club. Galatasaray would finish 3rd in Süper Lig table, eleven points behind league champions Bursaspor. Despite calls from fans for him to be sacked that summer, Rijkaard continued as manager in the 2010-11 season but after a poor start to the season, he was sacked in October 2010. In June 2011, he was appointed head coach of the Saudi Arabian national football team but he looks set to leave his post after Saudi Arabia were eliminated in the third round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, finishing third in their group. Despite being a defensive midfielder/defender in his playing days, Rijkaard’s philosophy has always been attack-minded and with his track record in the past, he could transform Liverpool into a team challenging for trophies if given the funds for transfers this summer and the challenge would certainly excite him as he has been heavily linked with the Liverpool job in the past.
Didier Deschamps (Currently Marseille Manager)
Former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps has always flirted with the possibility of coaching in England and he could make the move sooner rather than later as his Marseille side at the moment are in serious decline. Deschamps has had a good managerial career so far and he guided Monaco to the Champions League final in 2004 before being beaten by Porto. He then went to Juventus, when they were demoted to Serie B after the 2006 Italian football scandal. Even though he won the Serie B trophy, he resigned as manager soon after and he then went to Marseille where he has been for the last three years. Deschamps won the French league and Coupe de la Ligue in his first season as manager but Marseille are no longer a force to be reckoned with in France and Deschamps’s men are in 9th place in the Ligue 1 table and were easily beaten by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. This might be the perfect opportunity for Deschamps to test his credentials in the Premier League with Liverpool.