Speculation is rife that Rafa Benitez is set to leave Liverpool in the coming weeks, either by resignation or by being sacked by the club’s owners. It’s unsurprising, Liverpool’s form has been terrible for much of this season, certainly not what you’d expect from a team who want to be challenging for the title. They’re out of almost all competitions and, given the demands of managing Liverpool, Rafa must surely be going soon – he’s just not managing it. But if Rafa were to leave the club then who would replace him as manager? And would they fit?
Surprisingly, Kenny Dalglish has been mooted by bookmakers to be the favourite to take over. Whilst Kenny is a club legend who was a good manager back in the day the fact remains that Kenny hasn’t been a manager for almost a decade. There was a recent case of a manager returning to top flight management after a number of years away, how did that go again Kevin Keegan? Whilst Kenny’s love for the club would be regarded as a quality in his being named manager, and his current role at Liverpool would keep him more up to date with the game than Keegan was, throwing in someone who’s quit managing just like that doesn’t seem like the best of options and shouldn’t really be the move the board go for if Rafa goes.
The favourite of many Liverpool fans is Jose Mourinho – the man spent several years annoying the hell out of Liverpool when in charge of Chelsea (apart from in the Champion’s League!) but his character and results were enough to endear him to the fans of even those he taunted the most. Mourinho’s already at a big club in Inter Milan but he’s made no secret of his desire to come back to the Premiership and there’s no reason he wouldn’t pick Liverpool as a new challenge; he’d bring charisma, man-management and a much more confident outlook on the club, seems a good choice to me.
Also linked is Guus Hiddink; the Dutchman’s recently shown that he’s in his element in the Premiership as he excelled at Chelsea last year. Add that to a long, successful career and you can see why he’s regarded so highly. Hiddink’s a master tactician who knows how to get the best out of his players – an anti-Gerard Houllier (who’s also been linked by the way) if you will. Hiddink doesn’t plan to stay in the game too much longer but could make Liverpool his final, glorious job.
Plenty of other names have been brought up naturally – aside from Houllier (shudder) there’s been Fulham boss Roy Hodgson; proven to be a very good manager but perhaps a little too old and settled with Fulham to be considered, Jurgen Klinsmann; who hasn’t done much of note as a manager to warrant a link to such a big club, and even Bernt Schuster who comes in as a shock candidate after failing to impress at Real Madrid last year.
My instinct would say don’t go with Kenny or any of the latter names – it should be between Mourinho and Hiddink. And I for one would go with Hiddink; the man’s experienced, he’s tactical, he’s great at striking a fine relationship with his players, and it would probably wind Chelsea up to see him managing Liverpool. I doubt Hiddink would refuse to throw a striker on when drawing against a weaker team. If Rafa goes, Hiddink would be perfect to replace him.
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