Dalglish among favourites to succeed Benitez

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The Independent Football

Kenny Dalglish's first season in charge of Liverpool saw him famously guide the club to a league championship and FA Cup double in 1985/86.

It was a glorious introduction to life as player-boss for the Kop legend who was the last manager to preside over a team of domestic champions at Anfield.

That was back in 1990 and the trophy that Liverpool's greatest-ever manager Bill Shankly famously called 'our bread and butter' has not been seen by the Kop since.

But, as the search for Rafael Benitez's successor begins in earnest, the possible return of 'King Kenny' to the hotseat has got Liverpool fans dreaming again.

Bookmakers make Dalglish the second favourite behind Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill to succeed Benitez.

It is worth noting that Dalglish is already Liverpool's academy ambassador and remains a hugely popular figure with supporters.

Dalglish could be placed in temporary charge at the very least but Skybet have slashed him from 6/1 to 5/2 to become the Reds' next permanent boss following some strong interest in the Scot.

Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg said: "Dalglish is a legend amongst the Anfield faithful and he's the man punters want to be with."

O'Neill, meanwhile, can be backed at 9/4 with Paddy Power and is most bookies' choice to land the vacant post.

Yet, with Liverpool in such disarray on and off the field, would the Ulsterman fancy the challenge of trying to turn round such a shambles?

Moving from Villa to Liverpool is a significant step up but, while warring Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett remain owners of a club they are trying to sell, little on-field progress is anticipated.

O'Neill has clashed with Villa's American owner Randy Lerner and would not want more of the same at Liverpool, especially with little funds expected to be available for new players.

Darren Haines, spokesman for Paddy Power, said: "The money says O'Neill but for many it would be a surprise as the canny coach tends to go somewhere heading in an upward direction.

"Despite that though the Liverpool job remains one of the biggest in English football."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is said to have admirers among the Anfield hierarchy and may be worth an outside punt at 33/1 with Boylesports.

Whether the new Liverpool boss can keep skipper Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres at Anfield remains to be seen, but Bet365 offer odds of 10/11 that one of them will leave before the closure of the summer transfer window and 5/2 that both quit the club.

While Emile Heskey and James Milner may beg to differ, the World Cup squad numbers that Fabio Capello has handed out could conceivably represent England's strongest starting line-up.

It is worth a punt on this side starting the opening group game against USA at odds of 4/1, while Peter Crouch may be worth backing to start the match at 4/6.

In the Engage Super League tonight, expect Leeds to beat Wakefield at Headingley Carnegie, Warrington to win at Salford and Hull to beat St Helens at the KC Stadium.

Go for a treble on this, available with various bookmakers.