Kenny Dalglish says Liverpool successor must be 'better'

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish may have stressed he would be happy to stand aside at the end of the season but suggested the club would have to find a "better" candidate to replace him.

Director of football strategy Damien Comolli admitted the possibility of the 59-year-old Scot, brought in on Saturday to take charge until the summer after the departure of Roy Hodgson, being made permanent boss had not been ruled out.

Dalglish insists he wants to help in any way he can, although his assertion that he will happily give way to a superior contender puts the pressure on the club's owners New England Sports Ventures to find a top-class replacement if his short stint in charge turns out to be a success.

"My understanding is it is until the end of the season and that is no problem for me," he said.

"I've heard stories about me demanding this or that - when I was phoned early on Saturday morning it was a straightforward 'yes' and that was it for me.

"There are no conditions, no promises, nothing. We'll not start running before we walk.

"I came back to work at a club that myself and my family are eternally grateful for many things they have done for us.

"If I do really well and there is someone better than me that comes along I will have no problem whatsoever.

"I am here to be of help to the club and if that means Kenny Dalglish is not the manager that is not a problem.

"If at the end of the season the owners have their eyes on someone else then I have no problem stepping aside because if I didn't I wouldn't be true to my word.

"I would do it readily if it meant the club improving."

The former Reds player and manager joked: "If I can get to the end of the season then I'll probably end up as one of the longest-serving managers in the Premier League any way."

However, director of football strategy Damien Comolli has not ruled out the legendary figure's chances of assuming the role.

Asked what the criteria was for identifying the next permanent manager the Frenchman said: "Competence, someone who will fit into the club and playing philosophy and huge on man-management - the three things most important to the club.

"It is open to people that we think fit into what I have described and Kenny obviously fits into that category."

Asked whether that meant Dalglish would be considered he added: "The answer is yes, there will be a thorough search of what we want to do, where we want to get to and we will talk to Kenny about it and see where it takes us."

Dalglish wanted the job last summer after the departure of Rafael Benitez but was overlooked by the previous regime of owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre.

Only the latter of those remains on the board in any executive capacity and he defended the way they arrived at the ill-fated appointment of Hodgson, who struggled for results and failed to win over the fans who turned against him.

Ayre did accept, however, the 63-year-old was probably the wrong man for the club.

"In the summer we went through a very exhaustive process and it is easy to look in hindsight and say it might have been better or different," he said.

"What we have done in the last few days is bring Kenny back to turn it around.

"Roy's departure was not based on the fans' reaction.

"There is not anyone at this club who does not think Roy is a great coach.

"Sometimes things don't come together and don't gel and I think everyone felt that was the case with the level of defeats (nine in the league) and situation on the pitch drove the decision."

Hodgson signed a three-year contract in July but Ayre stressed that paying him off - having also had to fork out a fortune when Benitez left - would not impact on any transfer funds available to Dalglish.

"We reached an agreement with Roy and certainly that type of payment does not come into the same area of business as our transfer budget," he said.

The rebuilding process at Anfield continued earlier in the day with the appointment of former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke as first-team coach.

At the moment that is only until the end of the season but the club have already entered into discussions about his longer-term future.