Brendan Rodgers dramatically emerged as the No 1 contender to become Liverpool manager last night and, as the prospects of Roberto Martinez taking the position receded, there is a possibility that the Swansea City manager could be appointed by the end of the week.
Though persistent rumours that Rodgers would be meeting Liverpool last night proved unfounded, Swansea are today bracing themselves for the call from Merseyside. City chairman Huw Jenkins emerged from morning discussions with the Northern Irishman – which had been scheduled long before the Liverpool position became available – to insist that there had still been no contact from Anfield. But Rodgers' return to the UK from a visit to New York has coincided with a sudden sense of pessimism in south Wales that he could be persuaded to stay – and Liverpool may now be prepared to make their move. An announcement may be forthcoming on Friday.
With Wigan's Martinez weighing up the structure that Liverpool's owner, Fenway Sports Group, has put before him, Rodgers has told friends that although he is happy in Wales he is intrigued by the chance to manage one of football's biggest clubs. He is pondering whether such an opening will come around again.
Rodgers is ambitious, though Jenkins has been careful to put in place benefits which discourage him from leaving. The chairman provided his manager with a new and enhanced contract in January and was careful to insist on a £5m compensation clause, but he also gave Rodgers the opportunity to feel he was at the hub of the club's development. Rodgers is thus overseeing the club's long-awaited new training facility.
Though he nurtures huge ambition born of his very successful time at Chelsea, where he fitted in well with some world-class players under Jose Mourinho, Rodgers was badly burnt when he left Watford for Reading, lasting only six months with a board who did not give him time. That is weighing on his mind.
But Rodgers has never made any secret of the fact that he wants to work for a club who have the potential to win silverware and though the presence of his family in South Wales is important, the Liverpool opportunity may prove too good to resist.
The outcome of Liverpool's pursuit of a new manager may now depend on how Martinez and Rodgers feel about the prospect of working under Louis van Gaal, who is favourite to become the club's sporting director. Van Gaal has always had an imperious streak and said 11 years ago that he had been top of Manchester United's list to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.
"I knew I was first on the list to succeed [Ferguson] last year," he said. "I don't have any contact with them now... but I can imagine that a club like Manchester United are still interested in Louis van Gaal."Reuse content