Sacked Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers shows his class
Disappointed Ulsterman thanks everyone at Liverpool as chiefs aim for quick replacement
Sacked Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has spoken of his disappointment at being dismissed, but has wished his successor well for the future.
And former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp is the front runner for the job, with the recruitment process set to be stepped up.
It is understood that Liverpool have taken steps to sound out Klopp about taking up the managerial reins at Anfield following Rodgers' departure.
The Ulsterman was relieved of his duties following Sunday's 1-1 Merseyside derby draw after owners Fenway Sports Group decided a change was needed to deliver success.
Rodgers' standing has declined since the high of almost guiding the club to their first league title in over two decades in 2013-14 and results towards the end of last season and the beginning of this campaign forced FSG to pull the trigger, albeit earlier than many expected.
In his final press conference, just over an hour before his contract was terminated, Carnlough native Rodgers spoke of the rebuilding job which was required at Anfield and the time needed and he reiterated that in a statement released by the League Managers' Association yesterday.
"I am, of course, incredibly disappointed to be leaving Liverpool Football Club," he said.
"It has been both an honour and a privilege to manage one of the game's great clubs for the last three years.
"I have worked every day to represent the club to the best of my ability, to develop both individual players and a team that the club's magnificent fans can be proud of.
"There have been some very memorable moments during my time at Liverpool and I would like to thank all of the players for their hard work and commitment.
"The current squad is one in transition, but they have some real talent and are showing a strong sense of togetherness.
"I expect to see them continue to grow and develop over the coming weeks and I wish them and my successor well for the rest of the season."
Despite the manner of his departure, Rodgers spoke fondly of the club and the owners.
"Liverpool has a magnificent football heritage and I have nothing but respect and admiration for the history, tradition and values that make the city and the club so exceptional," he added.
"As well as my players, I would like to thank everyone connected with the club; Fenway Sports Group, the Liverpool directors, in particular (chief executive) Ian Ayre, my coaching staff, the staff throughout the club, the volunteers, the academy staff and its young players and of course the amazing Liverpool fans for their unwavering support, passion and dedication which has made my time at the club so special.
"Finally, I would like to give a special mention to John W Henry, Tom Werner (chairman) and Mike Gordon (FSG president).
"They gave me this great opportunity and even though we will no longer be working together I am sure our relationship and friendship will continue into the future."
LMA chief executive Richard Bevan is confident Rodgers will not be out of work for long.
"Brendan is without doubt one of the most talented and forward-thinking British managers in the game," he said. "His abilities were formally recognised in 2014, when his peers voted him LMA Manager of the Year following his brilliant work at Liverpool, which very nearly guided them to the Barclays Premier League title.
"His time at Liverpool has demonstrated he has both the skills and personality to manage at the highest levels of the game.
"Brendan has dedicated his entire professional life to developing players and teams, and I am certain that with his knowledge and passion for the game it won't be too long before he finds a new challenge."
Klopp, out of work having taken a sabbatical after leaving Borussia Dortmund last season, was immediately installed as the favourite having been touted by fans as Rodgers' successor even before his dismissal.
Ayre is understood to be liaising closely with the club's United States-based ownership group - Henry, Werner and Gordon - over the recruitment process which they hope to have completed before the players return from international break next week.
Henry had personal involvement in the last appointment, being pictured meeting Roberto Martinez for coffee in Miami before the Spaniard withdrew himself from the process, but, having opted for a young manager with potential back in 2012, FSG are now inclined to appoint someone who has a proven record.
Klopp won two Bundesliga titles and reached a Champions League final and is seen by many as the ideal fit at Anfield, with plenty of parallels being drawn with his spell with Dortmund, restoring the fortunes of a club which had lost its way.
However, despite the clamour for Klopp and his position as the outright favourite, Liverpool will keep their options open.
The available three-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti, however, is widely viewed as less of a good match than his German rival.