Reaction to the departure of Rafael Benitez
Thursday 03 June 2010
Mark Lawrenson has suggested his former Liverpool team-mate and club legend Kenny Dalglish could be drafted in to replace Rafael Benitez as manager on an interim basis.
Benitez's departure from Liverpool was confirmed today after the club announced they had agreed to end his six-year reign by mutual consent.
Dalglish, who is already at Liverpool as an academy coach, has immediately been installed as the favourite to take over, almost 20 years after his first spell in charge ended.
With the ownership of Liverpool still in some doubt, Lawrenson believes Dalglish could serve to fill the role until the club's situation is settled.
"I would have thought Kenny would be heavily involved and quite rightly so - maybe not just in choosing the manager but holding the fort in the meantime," Lawrenson told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Liverpool's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are actively seeking a new buyer for the club, although a sale may still be some time away after they admitted they will only sell at the right price.
Former Reds striker David Fairclough believes that uncertainty will deter big-name managers from coming to Anfield and admitted a temporary appointment may be the short-term answer.
"The uncertainty in terms of the ownership means that maybe we'll have to lower our hopes a little bit," he told Sky Sports News.
"Who knows, there will be a lot of names linked. Will one of the big names agree to come to Liverpool with the question mark of the ownership hanging over the club?
"If you are going to go for a big name such as a Guus Hiddink or Louis van Gaal, someone of that calibre - that sort of calibre is what Liverpool deserve and want.
"I think they are going to be a little bit reluctant given the uncertainty of the ownership.
"While I say we lower our standards, maybe there is an interim type of appointment that just gets us over the question mark of selling the club."
Former Reds captain Phil Neal pointed to both Benitez's mixed record in the transfer market and his infamous verbal attack on Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last January as key factors in his dismissal.
Benitez took on Ferguson over his criticisms of referees and the Barclays Premier League fixture list in a memorable press conference which saw him read from a prepared list of "facts".
The Reds led the table at the time but finished the season in second place, and Neal told Sky Sports News: "Maybe people thought Rafa had lost the dressing room somewhat throughout that season, maybe without that rant he may have clinched the title.
"When we were scoring goals galore, why have a go at Fergie - his closest rival for the Premier League most years? There was no way that was going to help the team.
"I thought that was a serious mistake on Rafa's part and maybe he'll reflect that now that he's got plenty of time to think about what he did."
On transfer dealings, he added: "Rafa has been backed to the hilt. We could go through what he did and didn't do.
"Stephen Warnock's going to the World Cup and he was our player some years ago. Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch and (Craig) Bellamy are there to remind us they were part of Liverpool not too long ago.
"I think he had people behind him recommending him players, who let him down somewhat. Those people who have been recommended haven't been up to the standard Liverpool are used to."
But he said the Spaniard will be fondly remembered for his achievements with the club - not least 2005's Champions League triumph, when they came back from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties.
"We wish him well, that was a phenomenal game in Istanbul and we'll never ever forget that."
Benitez still had four years to run on the contract he signed in May last year and reports have suggested that the club agreed on a £6million severance payment.
Fairclough admitted that was a lot of money, but believes it could be well spent.
"It's an awful lot of money. I think anyone leaving a football club and getting a pay off is very, very fortunate," he added.
"Six million would have been useful to attract players but I think if you put it into a business perspective and you say 'any potential owners now does not have to pay off a past manager' then in that terms the £6million may be money well spent."
After finishing seventh in the Barclays Premier League last season, their worst position since 1999, and suffering early exits in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup, Fairclough admitted a change was required.
"The performance last season wasn't good enough for Liverpool Football Club," he said.
"The supporters are very supportive. The number of managers we've had in the past speaks volumes that we don't like parting with our managers.
"But at the end of the day we do need performances. We want to be contenders for the big prizes and unfortunately that never happened last season.
"People have various reasons as to why that was. But generally the player underperformed and there was that element that the players weren't getting on with the manager."
Former Reds striker John Aldridge believes it is unlikely Dalglish would be interested in becoming manager of the club again, although he conceded it was likely the former Kop hero would play a leading role in the search for Benitez's successor.
"I don't really think Kenny would want the job," said Aldridge. "He might be a bit too long in the tooth.
"But certainly over the last six months he's become a massive figure in and around Anfield and he'd be a trusted figure to perhaps go out and find the ideal candidate we need at the club."
Aldridge also felt the Spaniard's departure would come as little surprise to those who closely follow the club's fortunes on Merseyside.
"It's been a matter of time," he said. "There's been a lot of rumours going through the city the last 10-12 days, and you just sensed it was going to happen.
"I think the decision has purely been made on the last 12 months. If you look at Rafa's reign over the last six years, he's got a strong case over that time, but in all honesty over the last 12 months he's lost a lot of fans on his side, and we've struggled badly."
Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson claimed Benitez's replacement would have to make keeping Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres at the club his priority.
"We need our star players if we are going to make any impact next year," he told Sky Sports News.
"Not just impact on the playing field, we have a worldwide fanbase of over 100 million people. They need star names, they need people to cling to and that is why we need Torres and Gerrard to stay there.
"It's wrong looking at it as 'will they be more likely to stay now because Benitez has gone?'. It's certainly a difficult situation.
"Hopefully when they make a decision and somebody different comes in, maybe they'll make the players commit at least for another 12 months."
Thompson admitted the club's American owners had not given Benitez the easiest of environments in which to work but claimed they could not take total responsibility.
"I don't that's helped in any way whatsoever for Rafa Benitez. I kind of sympathise with him on that side but they're not totally to blame," he added.
"I'm not saying the ownership has had a great deal to do with it.
"A lot of his signings have not come up to the mark and you live and die by your results and your signings."
He added: "It's not about failure, you've done your best, maybe you have gone as far as you can and you make way for somebody else."
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