Lee departs Anfield as Clarke's influence grows

 

Sammy Lee, the Liverpool assistant manager, whose influence at Liverpool diminished when Steve Clarke was brought in as Kenny Dalglish's first-team coach, has left Anfield just over three years after returning.

Clarke, whose new three-year deal signed in May warded off the prospect of Chelsea regaining his services, is now expected to take on the role of assistant manager. Lee's exit had been rumoured for some time, though the timing of it, five days before the squad returns for pre-season training, is the biggest surprise. Rumours that Lee might be about to join up again with West Ham United's Sam Allardyce – for whom he previously worked as assistant at Bolton Wanderers – appear to be wide of the mark.

Though Lee seems to have decided that his future is untenable with Clarke's reputation such a burgeoning one at Anfield, the 52-year-old's departure will be a painful one. When his attempts to launch a career in management came to such a swift end at Bolton, it was Anfield which offered him sanctuary. At the club with whom he won four league titles and two European Cups during a decade as a player, he formed a close relationship with Rafael Benitez. Lee made 295 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 14 goals, before leaving for spells at QPR and Osasuna. Roy Hodgson kept him when he arrived to succeed Benitez, though Dalglish's recruitment of Clarke placed him in the shadows.

When Dalglish was made permanent Liverpool manager in May, he praised Lee's contribution but Clarke seemed to take the greatest plaudits. "Steve has been fantastic, Sammy is still here and [has] done a great job alongside him," Dalglish said.

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