Belfast Telegraph

King Kenny Dalglish lost his Liverpool crown too quickly

Ruthless owners left kenny to walk alone... now they must call Brendan

By Steven Beacom

In Liverpool's last home match of the season the Kop roared the name of the man they call the King.

In those distinctive scouse tones that familiar chant of “Dalglish, Dalglish, Dalglish” echoed around Anfield during and after a 4-1 victory over Chelsea.

Liverpool may have endured an embarrassing Premier League season, eventually finishing in eighth position, but the vast majority of the fans did NOT want their King to go. Nor did the players.

The American owners, Fenway Sports Group, saw things differently. More ruthless than a hired gunslinger, John W Henry and Tom Werner sacked Dalglish following a meeting in Boston earlier this week. Last season the Scot brought hope and belief back to the club stabilising a ship that was sinking under Roy Hodgson (how ironic that on the day he announced his England squad for the Euro 2012 finals that once again he was overshadowed by Dalglish). This season he won the Carling Cup — the first silverware since 2006 — and took his beloved Reds to the FA Cup final, but plainly it wasn't enough.

Failing to qualify for the Champions League, or even getting close, was a deciding factor. To Henry and Werner, clearly the revenue and prestige that Europe's most prestigious competition provides is king, not Kenny.

The last American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were loathed by Liverpool fans for the way they ran the club. I'm not sure the current American owners will be topping many popularity polls right now after this decision. It didn't matter to them that Dalglish was and is the biggest hero in the club's proud history, having been a world class player, hugely successful manager first time around, caring counsellor to grieving families in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, wonderful LFC ambassador and trophy winning boss second time around.

Winning just six out of 19 home league games this season proved more telling than all that to the Americans, who weren't pleased with how Dalglish handled the Luis Suarez racism affair or the media storm that it attracted.

In truth he made a mess of the controversy which reflected badly on the club while his big money signings — which accounted for Director of Football Damien Comolli — Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam all failed. £35m striker Andy Carroll has performed lately, but he too so far has been a huge waste of money.

Still, for all that Dalglish deserved another season to establish if he could get the league form right and to see if those signings would come good. The club was in shocking shape when he took over. Someone should try informing owners of football clubs these days that it takes time to put things right.

It's someone else's problem now and there's an endless list out there who would jump at the job. This isn't Aston Villa, also looking for a new boss, we are talking about here, though the suggestion from hopeful and ambitious Reds to recruit Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola might be a bridge too far.

I can't imagine either fancying the Europa League slog, can you? In any case former Chelsea boss Mourinho, about as well liked on the Kop as Sir Alex Ferguson, is now likely to stay at Real Madrid and Guardiola, who made modern day Barcelona great left the Nou Camp to take a break from football not jump straight into a desperately tough job.

Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, Frank Rijkaard, Athletic Bilbao's Marcelo Bielsa and Andre-Villas-Boas, who failed at Chelsea, have also been mentioned as a possible successor to Dalglish yet the surprise early favourite is Wigan's Roberto Martinez.

Agreed, he has performed miracles to keep Wigan in the top flight, but Anfield would eat him alive.

If Liverpool are going down the promising young Premier League manager route, Brendan Rodgers is the choice.

His Swansea team were applauded at Anfield earlier this season having played Liverpool off the park in a style that appealed to the home fans.

The pass and move football which is in Brendan's DNA helped promoted Swansea to finish 11th just five points behind Liverpool who spent something like £120m more on players.

The Carnlough man has a clever coaching brain and enough character and faith in his own ability to handle the pressures of managing a club like Liverpool. He also has the charm to appease scousers unhappy at Dalglish's dismissal.

Another Ulsterman, that wonderful motivator Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill, has been in the running for the Liverpool job in the past, but that was then. The time is right for Rodgers at Anfield. The King is gone.

The Prince of Wales is the man to take the throne.

Belfast Telegraph

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