Belfast Telegraph

Kenny Dalglish pays the price for Liverpool's under-achievement

By Martyn Ziegler

The truth behind Kenny Dalglish's sacking may be unpalatable to those many, many Reds fans who venerate their old talismanic player and manager.

The truth behind Kenny Dalglish's sacking may be unpalatable to those many, many Reds fans who venerate their old talismanic player and manager.

For the fact of the matter is that Dalglish was simply not good enough this time around.

His signings were suspect - don't forget that Luis Suarez was a Roy Hodgson-inspired choice - his tactical insight looked to have deserted him, and the manner in which he dealt with the Suarez racism controversy was frankly embarrassing.

Old school is not necessarily good school, and Fenway Sports Group were clearly unimpressed by a club that were probably the greatest underachievers in the Premier League last season in terms of the ratio of points won to pounds spent.

The announcement closely followed new England manager Hodgson's unveiling of his Euro 2012 squad. A good day to bury bad news, maybe.

But if the American owners thought they might escape some flak, they will surely be disappointed. Liverpool fans adore Dalglish like no other, even more than Bill Shankly or Bob Paisley.

But FSG have made the right choice if they are going to take the club forward, even if it means paying another hefty whack so soon after compensation payments to Hodgson.

The big poser is: who's next?

There are a host of promising young managers who have already made a name in the Premier League.

Norwich's Paul Lambert is top of that pile with Brendan Rodgers of Swansea and Wigan's Roberto Martinez not far behind, but the expectation will be for a marquee appointment.

There is of course one such figure with an impressive track record, a knowledge of Liverpool from boot room to board room, and who lives still on Merseyside.

Step forward Rafa Benitez.

It may seem bizarre, but Benitez ticks every box and for him there is no big issue with returning to the club so soon because the owners are different.

It was Hicks and Gillett he fell out with, not John W Henry.

This is a crossroads for Liverpool. Someone such as Lambert could get the club back among the elite of the Premier League, but the owners would have to look long term and be prepared to give him time to build his team.

There may be no room for such patience, but then whom among the established names would be prepared to take over at Anfield?

The likes of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are now out of Liverpool's league, old Premier League hand Martin O'Neill appears ensconced at Sunderland, and do not even entertain thoughts of David Moyes.

The more one thinks about it, the more sense it makes.

Rafa's the man for all seasons.

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