Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre upbeat despite snub by Swansea's Brendan Rodgers

By Carl Markham

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre is confident the lack of Champions League football will not affect the calibre of manager they hope to recruit.

The Reds' search for a successor to Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked on Wednesday, is already well under way with a number of names being targeted as owners Fenway Sports Group try to find the best man for the job.

At one end of the scale the likes of former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and ex-England boss Fabio Capello are being mentioned while, at the other, Wigan's Roberto Martinez has already been given permission to talk to FSG.

The Reds were also hoping to speak to Swansea's Brendan Rodgers, another young, up-and-coming top-flight manager, but he turned down the opportunity.

"The club is pleased to confirm that Brendan has declined the current opportunity to speak to the Anfield club about the vacant position," said a Swansea statement.

Scepticism has been expressed that the likes of Guardiola, Capello, Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp, Marseille's Didier Deschamps and former Porto and Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas would be interested in taking over at a club which will not have had Champions League involvement for three seasons.

However, Ayre believes the right candidate will see a bigger picture.

"We will find out (the effect of not being in the Champions League) during the process I guess," he said.

"The reason I don't think it will have an effect is if you lined up most managers in football and asked them if Liverpool would be a great club to manage and most people would aspire to do so I think they would say yes.

"The history of this club, the reach of this club around the world , its fanbase and everything we have achieved and want to achieve is more than enough to keep any manager we would want to go after hungry for the opportunity."

The fact two of the managers on FSG's short-list have already been made public will not have helped the process, which the Americans are hoping to advance smoothly and thoroughly.

Ayre yesterday stressed there was no feeling of crisis at the club despite there now being a number of key positions to be filled.

Opinion among fans is still divided over whether principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner were right to dismiss Dalglish, a club icon.

That decision, plus the on-going delay over building a new stadium or redeveloping Anfield, appears to have brought to an end FSG's honeymoon period since they took over from the despised regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett in October 2010.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, in giving Martinez his blessing to enter into talks, said the club had lost its heart.

The accusation being levelled at Henry and Werner, based full-time in the United States with no American representation actually in Liverpool, is that they are out of touch with local feeling.

Ayre said that was not the case and he felt being based in the US actually helped the decision-making process.

"I don't think in any way would they alienate themselves. This was such a difficult decision because it was Kenny," said the managing director.

"If Liverpool fans feel the owners have alienated themselves because they make tough decisions for Liverpool to restore it to greatness then that is for people to decide.

"But they have an absolute commitment to the club and the fans and when they are here they make themselves completely accessible.

"I think what you need in football is a strong will to win and a commitment to making some difficult decisions."

On the management model which places the club's two key decision-makers 3,000-plus miles away Ayre added: "It helps the club and all us because you have a balance.

"From a board perspective you have the two owners based in America, somewhat distanced from the day-to-day but that is balanced with my input to that.

"We speak almost daily. They are very aware of pretty much all of what is going on but they are able to have a more dispassionate view sometimes.

"We balance that with my knowledge and view of what is happening day-to-day in this city and club among our fans.

"I think that is the best combination you can have because you always want someone to second-guess your decisions and make you think about things and they do that consistently.

"I don't see distance as an issue."

Liverpool had to clarify they were not actively seeking recommendations from fans for their next manager on Twitter after the club's official account tweeted: "Who do you want to replace Kenny Dalglish as £LFC manager? Reply with your suggestions and reasons."

A response quickly followed which said: "Context of our last tweet seems to have been misunderstood - we were simply looking for fan views to include on a fun online feature."

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