The Guardian has today reported that Liverpool are keen to sign Roy Hodgson before tomorrow’s crucial game with Slovenia. It is thought that the current Fulham boss would much rather wait until the outcome of the Slovenia match because it would no doubt mean a vacant manager position for the national team; a position he is rumoured to be a strong candidate for should the worst befall our nation’s World Cup hopes.
Whilst Kenny Dalglish was said to be working alongside managing director Christian Purslow in the search for Benitez’s successor, the Scot had made it known that he would take the job due to what he believes is a lack of quality or feasible replacements. With King Kenny seemingly overlooked for the much debated hot-seat at Anfield it raises a couple of interesting questions. The first is who should be considered the stronger contender between the much fancied Hodgson and the Chilean Manuel Pellegrini? The second question, equally perturbing for Liverpool fans, is whether Dalglish would reconsider his future based on the impending appointment?
It should be made clear that keeping Kenny Dalglish very much a part of Liverpool Football Club is a must. Not only is he an ambassador who has intimate knowledge of the workings of the club, he was also appointed as chief overseer of the revamped youth academy before Benitez’s departure. The knowledge he can offer is far more substantial than etiquette and tradition; he knows the players, the emerging players in particular, and has seen their development from early last year until present.
Hodgson’s record is well known in this country but I still feel the merits of Pellegrini to be severely undervalued by bookies and fans alike. The Chilean took Villarreal to record high finishes of 2nd and 3rd in his five year tenure at the club and brought them Champions League football for the first time in their history (semi final appearance against Arsenal in 2005/06). Even his year long stint at Real Madrid led to a record number of points and only narrowly losing out on the title to Barcelona. The question is whether a second place finish and Champions League semi final is enough to warrant the Liverpool job, especially for fans wanting the best possible replacement. But Pellegrini managed success in Villarreal without an intimidating budget or squad. Furthermore, his passing style is heavily oriented on the team ethic and, as a personality, he is a manager who dispels controversy and shuns the limelight. Though he has proven to get the best out of relatively unfancied players (Diego Forlan won the Golden Boot whilst at Villarreal after indifferently leaving English shores), the constant scrutiny surrounding Anfield may prove too much for any manager over a short period of time. Conversely, the club’s current state coupled with the emergence of Tottenham, Manchester City (and certainly Everton) may provide the exact kind of calmed expectation that would facilitate the rebuilding of Liverpool.
Whilst neither Hodgson nor Pellegrini are spectacular names, their success at building something under their own vision and utilising the talent at their disposal cannot be questioned. These are exactly the type of qualities that are needed at Liverpool to marshal them through a transition period which may well see the departure of one or two big names. An added dimension to the narrative is Dalglish who, despite being an outsider for the manager’s position according to the morning reports, is still a vital member of the Liverpool backroom and indispensable for his experience at the club.
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