Kenny Dalglish sacked by Liverpool's US owners after showdown talks in Boston
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports group sacked Kenny Dalglish after losing faith in his ability to deliver the progress they were looking for.
Just a month ago chairman Tom Werner, after relieving director of football Damien Comolli of his duties, had insisted the 61-year-old Scot had their full backing.
However, with the Reds finishing eighth, their lowest league position for 18 years, FSG took the bold and unenviable decision - "not reached lightly or hastily" according to a statement - to dismiss the Dalglish in the quest to regain Liverpool's Champions League status.
At the start of the season principal owner John Henry had said a top-four place was the minimum requirement.
Just 24 hours after Dalglish had returned from a face-to-face meeting with Henry and Werner in Boston the Americans brought his 16-month second spell in charge to an end.
Werner admitted Dalglish had done an important job in stabilising the club after they had sacked Roy Hodgson following a desperate six-month reign but they felt it was time to move on.
"Kenny came into the club as manager at our request at a time when Liverpool Football Club really needed him," said the Liverpool chairman.
"He did more than anyone else to stabilise Liverpool over the past year and a half and to get us once again looking forward.
"We owe him a great debt of gratitude.
"However, results in the Premier League have been disappointing and we believe to build on the progress that has already been made, we need to make a change.
"We are committed to delivering success for our supporters and our ambition remains resolute to return this great club to the elite of England and Europe, where it belongs."
Liverpool finished 17 points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham and they were actually closer to relegated Bolton in 18th.
Even winning the Carling Cup, their first trophy for six years, and reaching the FA Cup final could not ultimately save Dalglish.
His departure leaves the club without a manager, director of football (FSG's preferred operating model), head of sports science or a head of communications - all of whom have been dispensed with in the last month.
Add to that they have never had a chief executive in place and not progressed the thorny issue of plans for a new or redeveloped stadium and it seems the owners have plenty of work to do this summer.
With the transfer window opening in two weeks, further complicated by the European Championships, their priority has to be to quickly find replacements for Dalglish and Comolli so the process of squad evaluation and strengthening can begin.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has been linked with the post while former manager Rafael Benitez, who famously won the Champions League in 2005, reached the final in 2007 and consistently delivered top-four places, is still out of work and living on the Wirral.
In 2009 Benitez came within four points of becoming the first Liverpool manager since Dalglish in 1990 to win the title but he remains a divisive figure among fans and returning to another former manager after dispensing with one might smack of desperation on FSG's part.
Despite coming up short in their expectations in the league Henry paid tribute to the achievements of Dalglish since he took over from Hodgson in January 2011.
"He is in many ways the heart and soul of the club. He personifies everything that is good about Liverpool Football Club," said the club's principal owner.
"Kenny will always be a part of the family at Anfield.
"Our job now is to identify and recruit the right person to take this club forward and build on the strong foundations put in place during the last 18 months."
Progress had been made under Dalglish, who took over with the club dangerously close to the foot of the table, and just over 12 months ago he was given a three-year contract.
But after spending almost £60million on Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Sebastian Coates and Jose Enrique, he did not get the return he was expecting from his new signings as all struggled in their first season.
On the day he was sacked there was some irony in the fact £35million Andy Carroll, one of Dalglish's first but much-criticised signings, was named in England's Euro 2012 squad and Henderson was placed on the stand-by list.
The Scot's view that winning one trophy and reaching the final of another was enough of an achievement to promote optimism for the future was not shared by the owners.
"Of course I am disappointed with results in the league but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the club to be back winning trophies," said Dalglish.
"Whilst I am obviously disappointed to be leaving the football club, I can say that the matter has been handled by the owners and all concerned in an honourable, respectful and dignified way and reflects on the quality of the people involved and their continued desire to move the football club forward in the same way as when they arrived here."
Dalglish statement in full
"It has been an honour and a privilege to have had the chance to come back to Liverpool Football Club as Manager. I greatly appreciate the work that Steve, Kevin, the players and all of the staff put in during my time and feel proud that we delivered the Club's first trophy in six years winning the Carling Cup and came close to a second trophy in the FA Cup Final.
"Of course I am disappointed with results in the league, but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the Club to be back winning trophies.
"Whilst I am obviously disappointed to be leaving the football club, I can say that the matter has been handled by the owners and all concerned in an honourable, respectful and dignified way and reflects on the quality of the people involved and their continued desire to move the football club forward in the same way as when they arrived here.
"I would like to thank all of the staff at the Club for their effort and loyalty. I said when first approached about coming back as Manager that I would always be of help if I can at any time and that offer remains the same.
"Finally, I want to put on record my heartfelt gratitude to Liverpool's fans, who have always given me and the Club their unwavering support. Without them neither the Club nor I would have achieved anything."
Kenny Dalglish: highs and lows
In his second spell in charge at Liverpool, prior to his sacking today, Kenny Dalglish experienced a number of ups and downs.
We highlight some of the main incidents.
January 8, 2011: Is called back from a holiday to take temporary charge of Liverpool after the departure of Roy Hodgson.
April 11: Beats high-flying Manchester City 3-0 at Anfield.
May 12: Having arrested the club's alarming slide, signs a three-year contract to become permanent manager for a second time.
October 1: Records a 2-0 Merseyside derby victory at Goodison Park.
November 29: Win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge puts Liverpool into Carling Cup semi-finals.
January 25, 2012: Draws home leg of Carling Cup semi against Manchester City to progress to Wembley on aggregate score.
February 26: Ends Liverpool's six-year trophy drought with penalty shoot-out victory over Cardiff in Carling Cup final.
January 9, 2011: Loses first game at Manchester United in the FA Cup third round.
January 12: Suffers first league defeat at Premier League newcomers Blackpool.
January 31: Loses Fernando Torres to Chelsea for record £50million fee after star striker hands in transfer request.
March 17: A goalless draw at home to Braga sees Liverpool exit Europa League at last-16 stage.
May 22: Defeat at Aston Villa sees Liverpool finish sixth, 10 points adrift of Champions League qualification.
November 10: Labels Football League "disgraceful" for not allowing Liverpool to reschedule a Carling Cup quarter-final at Chelsea to avoid playing two matches in three days, and threatens to play the youth team.
December 8: Describes Football Association handling of Luis Suarez racism charge as a "joke".
December 21: Incurs widespread criticism for joining players by wearing a T-shirt in a show of support for Suarez, who had been accused of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
February 12 2012: Publicly apologises for "conduct not befitting of a Liverpool manager" during a television interview after league defeat at Manchester United.
May 5: Loses FA Cup final 2-1 to Chelsea.
May 14: Loses final match of season at Swansea before flying to the United States to meet the club's owners.
May 16: Contract is terminated by Fenway Sports Group.
Fan's Dalglish tribute video
KENNY DALGLISH ROLL OF HONOUR
Scottish First Division: Four titles (1972, 1973, 1974, 1977)
Scottish Cup: Four titles (1972, 1974, 1975, 1977)
Scottish League Cup: One title (1975).
First division: Five titles (1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984)
European Cup: Three titles (1978, 1981, 1984)
European Super Cup: One title (1978)
League Cup: Four titles (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984)
PFA Player of the Year: One award (1983)
FWA Footballer of the Year: Two awards (1979, 1983)
First division: Three titles (1986, 1988, 1990)
FA Cup: Two titles (1986, 1989)
Manager of the Year: Three awards (1986, 1988, 1990)
Premier League: One title (1995)
Manager of the Year: One award (1995)
Scottish League Cup: One title (2000)
League Cup: One title (2012)
Caps: 102 Goals: 30