Kenny Goes, Who Comes In?

Kenny Dalglish has today been sacked as manager of Liverpool football club. For me, this was the wrong decision (as I have previously explained in detail here), and he should have remained in charge for 2012/13 at the very least.

Despite winning more trophies in the last three months than Harry Redknapp has won in the previous four years, or Arsene Wenger has in the last seven, Dalglish’s contract was terminated. If a sentence ever demonstrated how finishing in the top four has become the be-all-and-end-all in football, that might well be it.

The Reds will be starting the new campaign with a different manager for the fourth season in a row, following Fenway Sports Group’s decision to dethrone the King of Anfield. But who will be coming in to replace Dalglish?

Two names very much in the frame at present are Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers. Both have performed well at smaller clubs, and they like their teams to play entertaining football. But I’m not convinced they’re ready for the step-up to a club of Liverpool’s size just yet.

I have to preface the following facts with an acknowledgement that the squads of the various teams, plus the expectations of the clubs, are wildly different. But consider this:

Martinez has won 34 of his 127 games in three seasons in charge of Wigan, whilst Rogers has 43 victories from 96 matches in two years at the helm at Swansea (with over half of these wins coming in the Championship too).

In Liverpool’s supposed worst season since the dawn of time (and I’m talking pre-1992 here folks), Kenny Dalglish won 24 games. In total, the Scot won 35 matches in all competitions (plus a shoot-out win following a draw in the Carling Cup final) in his second Anfield tenure, which lasted just sixteen months.

I’m not comparing the above win figures in order to suggest that these guys are nowhere near as good as Dalglish, it’s to illustrate the difference in expectation to what they are accustomed to.

Considering that the Reds have Europa League football next season, if Martinez (for instance) takes over then he will be expected to win about as many games in one season as he has in three seasons at Wigan.

I think both Rodgers and Martinez are decent managers, with great long-term  potential, but they will not have known anything remotely like the expectation and scrutiny of being the Liverpool boss. They would have to improve their win rates by approximately two or three times in order to simply match Dalglish’s record, and he is perceived to have failed. That’s an enormous amount to take on, and it would be a huge risk to make either of them the new Liverpool manager in my opinion.

There is however one available manager with unfinished business at Anfield: Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard has the experience of leading Liverpool in the recent past, so understands fully what is required, and had a very impressive record in his time on Merseyside. If you want some proof of his ability, compare the points-per-game records from Benitez’ two best seasons with Liverpool’s three title-winning campaigns under Dalglish:
Benitez can certainly handle the expectation, and built a title-challenging side with a similar net expenditure to which FSG have granted Dalglish, albeit it took five years to get there.
Of course, if the fanbase can become split over the club’s greatest ever legend, then they certainly will (and have in the past) with Benitez. It’s also unclear what view FSG have of Benitez, and considering they will have been briefed by the likes of Christian Purslow, then it’s probably not a wholly positive one. But in terms of realistic options, I think he has to be the best one, especially considering that he is available, knows the club inside out, and could start immediately.
To conclude, as Dalglish is no longer manager of Liverpool, here is a look at his record across his two tenures. However poorly the team have played across the last few months of the season, Dalglish can certainly leave Anfield with his head held high. Not least as he is the only manager in Liverpool’s history to have won all three domestic trophies:
Kenny Dalglish 1985-2012:

3 league titles
2 FA Cups
1 League Cup
549 points from 280 league games (1.96 per game)

Dalglish will always be the King at Anfield; which prince will take on the challenge of replacing him, and more importantly, bettering his recent record?

Whoever it is had better bear this in mind: one trophy, another final, a genuine top four challenge until March and some of the best football seen in recent seasons is apparently not good enough to keep the job. I for one do not envy whoever turns out to be the 20th Liverpool manager. The nineteenth will be one hell of an act to follow.

Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here.

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6 thoughts on “Kenny Goes, Who Comes In?

  1. absolutely agree Andrew. KK should have been given 1 more season at least. I just hope Nesv either know what they are planning or take some good advice.

    • Cheers Ian. That’s the big issue for me – the owners admit they know very little about football, so have they looked at 8th placed and decided it’s not good enough (which in straight terms, it isn’t) but without bearing in mind the extenuating circumstances?

      For instance: Liverpool have hit the woodwork a record 33 times in the Premier League, and 48 times in all competitions, this season! If all woodwork strikes were goals, then Liverpool would’ve finished 4th.

      Poor finishing is the main cause, so I don’t want to blame bad luck, but it just goes to show how fine the margins are between success and failure.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Hello mate,
    I am in agreement that Kenny should have been given another year – however, we performed to a level that let the possibility of him going hang in the air – so, I am not even a little surprised.
    However, I think it’s worth bearing in mind with the step up, that Rogers and Martinez have been doing it with championship players in the main, so it would be interesting to see how their ‘methods translate’ (at least their methods have been working in the same division, unlike Roy’s). The article I read in last weeks Indie (I think) about Rogers sounded really impressive, but I think it’s too soon.
    I don’t think they’ll give it to Rafa and out of all the names I have heard so far AVB seems the best bet – he had a hard time working with the power centre at Chelsea, they were always going to turn on him – most of Chelsea’s players (those in the centre) are older than him and I just couldn’t see it working.
    ANyway, all exciting times – I was feeling a little bored before yesterday.
    Dawershonu (Scott)

    • Hi mate – yeah agree with you, the decision to let Dalglish go wasn’t particularly surprising, but it hasn’t stopped it being disappointing either!
      I think that a Rogers or Martinez *could* definitely work, but it’s a big gamble when we’re at a low ebb. Similarly, if AVB had problems with Terry and Lampard, then he probably will with Carra and Gerrard.
      Of course, TTT has far more on this than I can provide 😉 Cheers!

  3. Before Raffa went to Valencia and made a big name for himself nobody had heard of him, he was coming from a small 2nd division team to take over a bigtime primera liga team.

    Sometimes you need to take a risk to get sucsess, maybe the signing of Martinez will be similarly inspirational, id still prefer them to bring back Raffa tho.

    • I think that’s a very fair point mate. I guess my main concern is obviously Liverpool, and Rafa had had that success before the Reds hired him.

      I certainly think Martinez is one for the future, but maybe he needs a middle ground appointment (Astin Villa, for arguments sake – good club, strong fanbase etc) before he comes to us.

      Cheers for reading.

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