Sunday, June 06, 2010

Kenny's Liverpool Short List

Roy Hodgson and Louis van Gaal will be the first two managers to be approached by Liverpool king-maker Kenny Dalglish.

A meeting at Anfield yesterday between the Reds’ legend and managing director Christian Purslow has outlined a shortlist of potential candidates to replace Rafa Benitez.

And the overwhelming front-runners on that list are Fulham boss Hodgson and Champions League finalist van Gaal, who enjoyed a successful campaign with Bayern Munich this season.

Dalglish will make discreet approaches to both men and then put together a package to tempt one of them to Anfield.

The Liverpool board feels there is no need to rush, given that the World Cup will dominate the next month and few players will be available until after the tournament.

But Dalglish and Purslow have decided that Hodgson and van Gaal have the perfect qualities to take the club forward after a poor season.

Fulham would mount a fight to stop Hodgson moving to Anfield. He was rewarded with a new rolling contract earlier this season which would cost Liverpool about £2.5million in compensation.

Hodgson’s wife Sheila is from Liverpool and the couple enjoyed living in the north-west while he was boss of Blackburn.

Sven: I Would Love To Manage Liverpool

Sven Goran Eriksson confessed last night to being a lifelong Liverpool fan and admitted: Managing the Kop would be a dream job.

The former England boss' shock admission came just 24 hours after Rafa Benitez left Anfield, leaving the Merseyside giants hunting a new manager.

Eriksson, managing Ivory Coast at the World Cup, revealed: "I have been a Liverpool fan all of my life.

"I never mentioned it when I was in charge of England because I didn't think it was fair.

"I was shocked when I discovered Rafa Benitez had left.

"Would I want to be the manager of Liverpool? It is every manager's dream to manage Liverpool."

Eriksson began following the Reds as a boy in Sweden. He said: "My father was also a Liverpool supporter and every Saturday we would watch an English match on television. It was the highlight of the week.

"Liverpool matches were televised quite regularly and we would cheer them on.

"They have always been my team and nothing has changed.

"When I was starting out in coaching I was invited to Liverpool to see how they did things. Joe Fagan was the manager at the time.

"I remember him showing me around Anfield and taking me into their legendary boot room.

"It was such a privilege and an honour for me to be invited in there. I will never forget that moment.

"Liverpool will always hold a special place in my heart."

Capello Refuses To Dismiss Dalgish Visit

Fabio Capello has not ruled out the possibility of Kenny Dalglish heading to England's World Cup camp in Rustenburg to speak with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher about the vacant Liverpool job.

Instinctively, it is something the England boss would shy away from, given the Three Lions have now commenced the build-up to their Group C opener against the United States on June 12.

But he understands why Reds ambassador Dalglish might want to speak with the Anfield outfit's most influential players following Thursday's departure of Rafael Benitez.

It remains highly unlikely Dalglish will commit to such an intrusion.

However, it is not a prospect Capello has dismissed completely.

"We have to decide about this and what happens, yes or no," said the England coach.

"First of all, he (Dalglish) would have to ask me. After that, I would speak with the players."

With Gerrard taking over as captain from the injured Rio Ferdinand, the Italian is confident one of his remaining star men will not be affected.

"Stevie is okay," said Capello.

"He has his telephone and the media are here.

"I know that Liverpool have changed their manager but I don't think it can disturb him.

"It is another thing. We are focused on the World Cup, not club problems.

"We are focused on training every day and that's it. We have other problems without thinking about this one."

Kop Must Flog Unhappy Stars

John Barnes reckons star duo Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres should follow Rafa Benitez out of Liverpool if they are not happy.

The Merseyside giants fear an exodus of top players after boss Benitez was sacked on Thursday.

And Anfield legend Barnes says anyone who wants to go should be allowed to - even if it means losing one of the Kop idols.

Barnes said: "Liverpool don't want Gerrard and Torres to go - but if they don't want to be there, let them move on.

"The fans would have to understand that and still get behind the club.

"Any player who doesn't want to be at Liverpool should go... no matter who they are.

"Look at this history of the club, Kevin Keegan went and people were worried but they got stronger. Kenny Dalglish was a legend but he retired and left and they've gone on and won trophies since then.

"I think there has been too much focus on Gerrard and Torres. They are important players but that affected a lot of the others in the team.

"The more we focus on them, the more we believe we can't compete without them."

Barnes, 46, was talking at an event organised by Coca-Cola and Special Olympics Great Britain to announce six flag-bearers for England's World Cup clash with Algeria on Friday week.

And the former winger who made 407 appearances in a 10-year stint at Liverpool from 1987, fears owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett may have blundered by allowing Benitez to go with the squad in such poor shape.

He said: "I'd like to have seen Rafa stay. If it's true there's no money to spend then whoever comes in will have to work with this set of players.

"If Rafa had stayed I'm sure Liverpool would have finished better than seventh next season.

"But not even Jose Mourinho could win the league with this group of players.

"If there was money to spend you could think it's time for a new start. But if there isn't I can't see the point in changing the manager.

"The assumption is there is no money to spend so there will be no world-class players coming in. So we have to get on with it."

Conflicting Reports Over Rafael Benitez's Inter Link

Inter's coach search is proving less than easy, and even harder for the Italian press to predict as conflicting reports emerge over Rafael Benitez's link with the club.

Benitez terminated his rapport with Liverpool officially on Thursday following a six-year tenure at Anfield. He has long been considered a hot favourite to join Inter. The Italians yesterday confirmed he would be a strong candidate for the role.

But La Gazzetta dello Sport claims he has dropped down Massimo Moratti's list quite considerably. Top of his desires is Turkey coach Guus Hiddink.

Inter are trying to ascertain if they can bring the Dutchman in on a temporary basis - similar to when he juggled jobs between Chelsea and Russia.

Second on the list is former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean has caught Moratti's eye. It leaves Benitez third on the list.

However, Il Corriere dello Sport are moving in the opposite direction with their news. They claim Benitez is already packing his bags for an eventual arrival at Appiano Gentile - Inter's training ground.

Furthermore, he has already designed his squad list, and will take several stars with him from Liverpool. Benitez has already told Moratti that Maicon is to be shackled to the club, despite the Brazilian publicly stating he wants to play for former boss Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.

According to the Rome-based daily, Javier Mascherano and Dirk Kuyt will follow the Spaniard to San Siro. It is said the midfielder will cost €30 million, and the striker between €15m and €20m.

Xabi Alonso Tries To Tempt Steven Gerrard

Xabi Alonso has told Real Madrid they would be getting an incredible player if they did swoop for Steven Gerrard.

Real are considering taking advantage of the uncertain future at Liverpool following Rafa Benitez’s sacking by launching their £30m bid for the midfielder.

Alonso, who was at Anfield until last summer, has launched a charm offensive to try and woo Gerrard to Spain.

New Real boss Jose Mourinho has always been a massive fan of the Liverpool captain and tried to sign him when he was in charge of Chelsea.

That attempt ended in failure but a £30m bid is on the cards again for the 30-year-old now that Benitez has left Anfield.

And Alonso admits he would love to line-up with Gerrard once again.

He said: “Steven is a legend at Liverpool and I have a lot of respect for Liverpool’s fans and also the club, but it is clear that he’s an awesome player.”

Liverpool FC Deal For Serbian International Milan Jovanovic Is Still On

LIVERPOOL are committed to wrapping up a deal for Milan Jovanovic as they begin the process of rebuilding after the Rafa Benitez era.

The Serbian international has long been on the Reds’ radar and Benitez had laid the groundwork for bringing the versatile striker – he can also play on the left side of midfield – to Anfield on a Bosman this summer.

Terms on a three-year deal were initially agreed with Jovanovic in February and he also passed a stringent medical in London in April – now all that remains for him to become a Liverpool player is the formality of completing a work permit.

Liverpool officials are “confident” that will be wrapped up shortly but the fact that no deal has yet been signed means there is still a possibility that the player could yet decide not to pursue a move to Anfield.

Jovanovic is understood to have expressed some concerns about Benitez’s departure from the Anfield hot seat as one of the reasons he indicated his desire to leave Standard Liege was to work with Benitez.

It must also be stressed, however, that he is overwhelmed by the idea of playing for Liverpool and, on a number of occasions, the 29-year-old has said how he is looking forward to the fact he “will now never walk alone”.

Inevitably, he will have questions to ask regarding what the future holds for the club but Liverpool remain optimistic that they will be in a position to officially announce his arrival in the near future, possibly before the World Cup starts.

As someone who scored 69 times in 146 appearances for Standard Liege – one was a penalty that knocked Everton out of the Europa League in October 2008 – Jovanovic will be an important addition to a squad that lacked striking options last season.

Barcelona Consider Move For Liverpool Striker Fernando Torres

Barcelona are reportedly are weighing up the merits of a move for Liverpool hot-shot Fernando Torres.

The Spain international's future at Anfield looks to be the subject of much speculation after seeing compatriot Rafael Benitez depart the club yesterday following a disappointing season at the helm of the Reds.

Barcelona's interest in Torres is not exactly new as El Nino was already on the Catalan club's agenda last summer, but a transfer never materialised.

Chelsea have also been credited with an interest in the 26-year-old striker, who cost Liverpool a fee in the region of €30 million, but it is believed the Blues' preference lies in the shoulders of Barcelona's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

News daily Sport claims that, after spending €40 million on David Villa of Valencia, Barcelona's move for Torres would always depend on Ibrahimovic being sold first, with the Swedish ace having a €50m price-tag around his neck.

Phil Thompson Urges Liverpool Board To Give Kenny Dalglish A Shot At Manager's Job

Kenny Dalglish should be put in charge of Liverpool until a permanent manager is found, according to former colleague Phil Thompson.

Thompson worked as a coach at Liverpool under Dalglish in the late 80s and reckons the Scot is the ideal replacement for Rafa Benitez.

“Maybe the logical thing is for Kenny Dalglish to take control,” Thompson said to The Times.

“He would do a great job. It would give a sense of stability to the club. Maybe Kenny would not want to entertain it. Whether he would want it, I am not sure. He still has the passion but only he can answer whether he wants it.

"He is an ambassador of the club and it would be a good transition to see it through the present crisis that we have.

"We need some positives and maybe Kenny would be a positive and would unite all – and I mean – all the fans until maybe the club was sold. Someone who the fans can identify with and hopefully unite the club. A safe pair of hands as they call it.”

When asked who he thinks should replace Benitez, Thompson went on to say: "If not Kenny, you are probably looking close to home with Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes and Martin O’Neill who would see it as a great challenge and a mark on their CV. The club needs to take their time and get this decision right."

And the ex-Liverpool player added he would have preferred that the club had acted at the end of the season in forcing Benitez out.

"I said that this should have been sorted after the Hull game,” he said. "If Rafa was staying on as manager, there is no problem, but tell us so at least the club can move forward and Rafa can look at objectives and players that he wants to bring in and go."

Former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson also believes Dalglish would be the ideal choice to replace Benitez on an interim basis.

"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 added.