Live4Liverpool columnist Voland picks out five of the best and discusses the pros and cons to each candidate.
Rafa knows Liverpool Football Club inside out, having brought in much of the coaching staff and many of the players (including many of fhe youngsters who are coming through the ranks). One of the best strategists around and a proven winner at both Liverpool and Valencia , with even his short tenure at Inter producing a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup. Rafa made some shrewd buys during his time at Liverpool, although using his entire budget on Johnson and the injured Aquilani backfired spectacularly in his last season. At 50, Benitez is still on the young side and, with unfinished business in terms of winning the English Premier League, would bring renewed hunger for success to Liverpool. Overall, surely one of the top coaches in world football today – and a low-risk, high-quality candidate for Liverpool in its current plight.
Criticised for his zonal marking tactics (potentially leading to vulnerability from set pieces) and defensive formations, Rafa is a coach in the mould of Arrigo Sacchi rather than Johan Cruyff. He carries baggage in that he has not been afraid to criticise (correctly) the political leadership of Valencia and Liverpool regarding short-sightedness in their funding plans – and also fell out with Inter’s Moratti regarding the latter’s unwillingness to back him in the transfer market.
Kenny’s management track record at Liverpool and Blackburn – four First Division/Premier League titles and two FA cups tell their own story. A living legend at Liverpool and a supreme motivator of men, Dalglish surely has what it takes to be a winner.
On the minus side, Kenny’s most recent managerial appointments at Newcastle in 1997-8 and 1999-2000 respectively were not happy ones – and a decade outside active management and an age similar to the much-maligned Roy Hodgson may count against him. Appointing King Ken to the Liverpool hot-seat is not without a major element of risk – which is balanced by the potential rewards should he replicate his previous success at the club.
Young at 43 and manager of high-flying, attack-minded Borussia Dortmund, Klopp has been hailed (most recently by Joachim Loew, German national trainer) as one of the leading, up-and-coming German managers.
As Beckenbauer pointed out however, Klopp is still unproven at the international level and has no major titles to his name. Potentially a great football manager of the future, Klopp would be a high-risk appointment at this critical time in Liverpool’s history. He would moreover not be available in the midst of a highly promising, Bundesliga title bid at Dortmund.
Together with Laurent Blanc and Michael Laudrup, Loew is perhaps one of the most interesting managers on the continent. Loew’s German national teams play attractive, free-flowing football – combined with shrewd tactics and a winning mentality. Loew has earned many plaudits for continuing in the successful footsteps of Klinnsmann at the national team and leading Germany to 2nd place at Euro 2008 and 3rd place at the 2010 World Cup.
Although he can look back to a successful time with VfB Stuttgart in the late nineties, he has only claimed a single German cup title at club level and his track record at 50 years of age looks thin compared to top managers like Mourinho (47) and Benitez (50).
Young at 42 and successful at Monaco, Juventus and Marseille, Didier Deschamps can point to one French Ligue-1 championship and two French League Cups as evidence of his winning ways over a surprisingly long career in club management (2001-2010). A leader on the pitch during his playing career – he was the youngest captain to lift a Champions League trophy and won just about everything there is to win as a player – Deschamps has been able to transfer his enormous success to the management level.
Although he spent a season with Chelsea as a player, Deschamps is untried at management level in the Premier League and would still be something of a gamble for Liverpool at this point in time. All the same, surely one of the top names on the shortlist of the Liverpool board as potential replacement to Hodgson. Whether he would make himself available this time round (having apparently turned us down over the summer) remains to be seen.