Saturday, June 12, 2010

Liverpool FC Hierarchy Fear How Powerful Kenny Dalglish Would Become

Kenny Dalglish is the only candidate on Liverpool FC’s managerial short list that could persuade Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay.

It’s one of the many pressing reasons why the Anfield legend should be installed as boss – but, sadly, also why he won’t be.

Not when the decision is being made by a banker (Christian Purslow) and a Chelsea fan (Martin Broughton) on behalf of American owners that have piled an unsustainable level of debt onto Liverpool.

Debt reduction not trophy gathering has long been the priority at Anfield.

And that is reflected in the emergence of Roy Hodgson as the board’s number one choice to replace Rafa Benitez.

They want a man who knows that under normal circumstances he wouldn’t get the chance to sit in one of the game’s most prized hotseats.

Someone to steady the ship for a season or two while the club is sold, who won’t quibble when his two outstanding players are sold for a combined fee of over £100m – even though he’s unlikely to receive even half of that to reinvest.

Of course, the rest won’t go on reducing debt, we’ll be assured. Just like the fees for Xabi Alonso and Robbie Keane.

Hodgson – whose only title triumphs arrived in Scandinavia – is certainly the man for that job.

The Londoner is a fine coach who has excelled at Craven Cottage. But Liverpool will just be a chance to add another big name on his CV to go alongside Inter Milan, where he performed a similar role to the one he will be asked to undertake at Anfield.

His appointment, though, will be viewed by most as a significant reduction in ambition at Liverpool.

Not least by the Reds’ star players who will flee through the Anfield exit doors.

But it’s not in the interests of the owners to keep Gerrard and Torres – despite their presence in the Reds’ squad making the club more attractive to buyers.

Liverpool lost a club-record £50m last year as they went £351m into the red.

That was with Champions League revenue and Benitez trading at a profit last summer. As well as being an awful competition, the Europa League also offers little financial reward.

With Tom Hicks’ outrageous £800m valuation stalling the sale of Liverpool it’s unlikely the club will change hands any time soon, meaning the blundering Americans will have to find a solution to their rapidly growing debt.

Now that Benitez is out of the way, there’s no-one to stop them asset stripping – by the time they’ve left, they will probably have ripped out and sold on Anfield’s lead piping, lighting and heating system.

No-one that is except Dalglish – the only living man to have won top-flight English titles at two different clubs – and the Liverpool board probably fear how powerful he would become if made manager for a second time.

King Kenny is the only man in the Anfield hierarchy who has the club’s best interests at heart. If he feels he is the best man to take charge, who are the board to disagree?

Naming Liverpool’s greatest ever player as Benitez’s successor would give the club the lift it needs after a wretched season. He’s the overwhelming popular choice, with a poll on the excellent Reds website, the, showing 93% of supporters preferring him to Hodgson.

More importantly, though, it would reassure fans and players that they mean business and are not happy just to drift further into mid-table.

Perhaps the game has moved on since Dalglish’s last managerial role at Newcastle, as some doubters have claimed.

But it is still a sport played by two teams of 11 men – despite some coaches, not least Benitez, making it unnecessarily complicated.

Forget Pro-Zone stats, blood tests and zonal marking, what really matters is the ability to read the game – as Harry Redknapp proved at Spurs this season.

And no amount of time out of the sport will dull a football brain as brilliant as Dalglish’s.

Rafael Benitez was guilty of some howlers in the transfer market as Liverpool manager, but his record was nowhere near as bad as some critics have claimed.

Almost 90% of players he purchased increased in value. Momo Sissoko, Craig Bellamy, Peter Crouch were all sold for a tidy profit, while Xabi Alonso fetched three times the fee paid for him.

Pepe Reina, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres were bought for a combined sum of around £45m. It is not inconceivable that trio would fetch £130m in today’s market.

Liverpool have previously rejected bids of £14m for Dirk Kuyt (who cost £9m), while even flop Ryan Babel (£11m) was generating offers of over £12m in January.

Steven Gerrard Refuses To Discuss Liverpool FC Future

Steven Gerrard has again refused to discuss his future at Liverpool.

Gerrard pledged a fortnight ago during England’s training camp in Austria that he was not prepared to answer questions about his club, preferring instead to focus on the World Cup.

Since then, however, Rafael Benitez has left Anfield by mutual consent and has been installed as the new Inter manager.

Meanwhile, Gerrard’s boyhood hero Kenny Dalglish and Fulham boss Roy Hodgson are among the top candidates to replace Benitez.

Events on Merseyside have fuelled speculation that Gerrard is set to leave Liverpool this summer.

Real Madrid are the favourites to capture the 30-year-old’s signature with odds slashed to 4/1 for him to start the new campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking ahead of England’s Group C opener against the USA in Rustenburg tomorrow, Gerrard was asked about Liverpool but reiterated his desire to talk only about the World Cup.

“I said on the record in Austria I wouldn’t be speaking about matters at Liverpool whilst I was here at the World Cup. That remains the case,” said Gerrard.

“That would be very disrespectful to all the guys here. Now I want people to show me respect.

“I’m two days from a massive day, leading my country into the World Cup and I want to concentrate on that.

“I am focused on the USA game and the USA game only.

“I will speak about Rafael Benitez and Liverpool’s situation after the World Cup.”

Gerrard has admitted that his situation at Liverpool proved a distraction for him at the last World Cup when rumours were again rife that he was set to leave he club, that time for Chelsea.

Now, as he steps up to captain England following Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal through injury, the midfielder is determined that history will not repeat itself.

He explains how he had mixed feelings about taking on the armband from Ferdinand but believes he has the backing of his teammates to lead them in South Africa.

“I’m honoured to be leading the lads out in a couple of days,” said Gerrard.

“The first I heard of Rio’s injury and that I would be captain, I had mixed emotions.

“I was sick in the stomach for Rio, who’s a great player, a massive player for us and it’s deeply disappointing that he will not be available, but it’s now my responsibility to lead the boys out.

“It’s a massive responsibility and I’m looking forward to it.”

“I am in this position because managers see I am a good captain and I won’t change at all.

“They like the way I am around the place and the way I do things on the pitch.

“I feel I have got the respect of the players. I’m here for all the players if they need any help.

“For me, I’m going to use the captaincy as a positive rather than a negative.

“I’ve got experienced people around me, the manager (Fabio Capello), Stuart Pearce who has been there and done it.

“I’ve got David Beckham to lean on, Rio is still here, John Terry has been captain.

“There are a lot of big leaders and for me I’m going to enjoy it and use it as a positive.”

Redknapp: The Manager Had Lost The Dressing Room

Former Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp claims Rafa Benitez simply had to be relieved of his post at Anfield because he “had lost the dressing room”. The former Kop hero also advocates Kenny Dalglish as the natural successor to the recently deposed Liverpool manager.

Last week Benitez was sacked as Liverpool boss following a season in which the once peerless Anfield club had finished seventh behind Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Aston Villa, and Redknapp believes it was absolutely the correct decision because he has it on good authority that the Spaniard had lost the dressing room.

Liverpool now face a battle to hold onto to their two world class players, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, both of whom have been strongly linked with transfers away from Anfield amid reputed interest from Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Redknapp, formerly a Liverpool captain, claims the club should appoint Kop legend Kenny Dalglish because he has the aura and respect to retain the club’s top stars.

The ex-Liverpool captain told the Daily Mail: “Benitez won the Champions League and the FA Cup, but it was time for him to go.”

“I speak to some of the Liverpool players, but you don’t have to do that to see how unhappy they were last season.”

“The manager had lost the dressing room. They almost downed tools.”

“The players were fed up and beaten. You can’t have Liverpool players like that!”

“It reflected in their performances and their final league position. Whoever takes the job has a huge task rebuilding morale and standards.”

“He will inherit some good players — but not enough.”

“He will have to take on the responsibility of keeping Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.”

“I just think Kenny (Dalglish), with all his Liverpool history, will have a better chance of achieving that, as well as attracting fresh blood.”

“The modern Liverpool don’t need just a figurehead, but a leader. Kenny can be that man.”

“Christian Purslow, the new managing director, has been bold with his decision to sack Benitez and now he faces a challenging period searching for the right man. The right man, in my opinion, is under his nose.”

Rafael Benitez To Snatch Liverpool Bosman Target Milan Jovanovic

Inter coach Rafael Benitez is set to risk the wrath of former club Liverpool by swooping for free transfer target Milan Jovanovic, according to reports in Italy.

Jovanovic, 29, was believed to have agreed a Bosman move to Anfield but a deal has yet to be fully secured for the Serbia World Cup 2010 star. According to La Repubblica, the Spaniard could now swoop in to bring the player to the San Siro.

Discussions with Inter sporting director Marco Branca are understood to have already begun. If the Standard Liege attacker makes the surprise u-turn, he would provide cover for Champions League final hero Diego Milito.

Danny Wilson’s Dream Move To Anfield In Doubt As Liverpool FC Search For A New Manager

Danny Wilson’s dream move to Anfield is hanging in the balance as Liverpool conduct their search for a new manager.

The departure of boss Rafa Benitez has brought to a halt talks over a deal for the Rangers defender.

The Reds recently had a £2million bid rejected by the SPL champions for the 18-year-old but remained confident an agreement would be reached.

Benitez was a big admirer of Livingston-born Wilson, who picked up both the Scottish PFA and Football Writers Young Player of the Year awards.

However, the Spaniard’s exit means the transfer is on the backburner and Benitez’s successor will have to decide whether to pursue a deal for the talented youngster.

Even if Benitez had stayed, Liverpool didn’t envisage Wilson’s transfer being completed before the start of July so they are hopeful the current uncertainty won’t jeopardise their hopes of bringing him south of the border.

Some reports have suggested the failure to swiftly tie up a deal for Wilson after the end of the season was due to a lack of cash at Anfield.

But Liverpool insist money was always available and the delay has been down to ensuring they don’t pay over the odds for a player who only has a year left on his current contract.

Wilson has rejected the offer of a new deal from Rangers and could walk away for just £650,000 in compensation next summer.

Wilson is believed to have his heart set on a move to Merseyside and Liverpool Reserves defender Alex Cooper is hoping the Reds’ new boss completes the transfer.

Cooper, who joined Liverpool from Ross County two and a half years ago, has played alongside Wilson at youth level for Scotland.

“I rate Danny very highly and think he’d do well at Liverpool,” Cooper said. “It won’t surprise me if he comes and starts challenging for a place in the first team.”

Wilson’s situation is different to striker Milan Jovanovic, who had already agreed a three-year contract with Liverpool and passed a medical prior to Benitez leaving.

The Reds intend to press on with signing the Serbian international on a Bosman from Standard Liege.

Rafael Benitez To Make Liverpool Midfielder Javier Mascherano His Top Transfer Target

New Inter manager Rafael Benitez will reportedly make Javier Mascherano his top transfer target during the summer, and is expected to raid former club Liverpool following the 2010 World Cup.

The Spaniard had a difficult season at Merseyside, as the Reds crashed out of both domestic cup competitions at an early stage. The club's European run was not much better, as they bowed out of the Champions League at the group stage and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, only to be beaten by eventual winners Atletico Madrid.

A lacklustre seventh-placed finish in the Premier League coupled with an alleged disagreement over transfer funds heralded the exit of the former Valencia boss, who quickly signed with the European champions.

Now The Telegraph reports that the former Anfield boss is likely to make Mascherano his top transfer target during the summer, as he will be handed £80 million to significantly reduce the average age of the Inter squad.

The Argentine, for his part, has made no secret of his desire to link up with his former boss, as he recently maintained that "my football is his football".

It has been speculated that due to the slender state of finances at Anfield, Benitez to sign Mascherano if a bid in the range of £30m were to be forthcoming.

Redknapp: I Still See Liverpool As My Club

The former Liverpool FC captain Jamie Redknapp has urged the club to appoint Kenny Dalglish as Rafa Benitez’s successor, suggesting he, like all Kop fans, has been hurt by the club’s malaise this season.

Liverpool FC are currently in the process of finding a new manager following their decision to end Rafa Benitez’s contract, and although Dalglish is currently leading the search alongside Christian Purslow, Redknapp believes the aforementioned Anfield legend has all the necessary credentials to reignite Liverpool’s flagging fortunes.

Dalglish was the man responsible for bringing Redknapp to Liverpool, but the former midfielder suggests sentiment does not come in to, because he simply believes the Kop hero is the ideal candidate for the Liverpool job recently vacated by Rafa Benitez.

The Liverpool hero told the Daily Mail: “Kenny Dalglish is the right man at the right time for Liverpool. He has the quality that money cannot buy: respect. They should be crying out for his leadership now to replace Rafa Benitez, who had to go.”

“I spent some time with Dalglish last week for the UNICEF game at Old Trafford and saw every day the passion and desire — and the knowledge — Kenny still has for football.”

“If the argument against his appointment is that he has been out of the game too long, you wouldn’t know it speaking to him — line-ups, formations, players. He’s been observing and building his knowledge. He’s ready to return to football.”

“I still see Liverpool as my club. I was captain and spent more than a decade playing for the club, after Kenny signed me at the age of 17 from Bournemouth.”

“I remember my first day up there, wondering how I would cope away from my mum and dad. He invited me to stay at his house, where his lovely wife, Marina, cooked chicken and pasta and we spoke about football. Then he told me I had to go to bed.”

“It was quite early and I was a bit surprised, but you don’t argue with the great Kenny Dalglish. So off I went.”

“I did as I was told, only to find out the next morning over breakfast that I was in the squad to face Wimbledon. I didn’t know until then, he didn’t tell me, but it was his way of keeping me calm.

“The day he left the club — about a month later — despite the thousands of people he needed to speak to and explain why, he called me and told me that I shouldn’t worry and that Liverpool was my club. I cried my eyes out.”

“Even last week, Kenny still had that aura about him. He is Liverpool’s Special One.”

“Liverpool supporters also hold him close to their heart forever.”

Ex-Liverpool FC Manager Rafa Benitez Donates £96,000 To Hillsborough Family Support Group

The ECHO can exclusively reveal that Rafa Benitez today donated £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group as he gets set to leave Merseyside.

The former Liverpool FC boss, who was today confirmed as the new manager at Inter Milan, handed over the cheque to Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the HFSG, as the rest of the committee watched on this afternoon.

In a low key visit to the group's office, Benitez wished the group well and told them he hoped they would get the justice and the truth they are campaigning for.

Mrs. Aspinall said: "It was just nice to know that he wanted to see us before he went."

Liverpool Walton MP Tables Anti Hicks And Gillett Parliamentary Motion

A Merseyside MP has tabled a Commons motion asking for help to kick out Liverpool FC’s American owners.

Walton MP Steve Rotheram, who has only been in the job for a month, has tabled an Early Day Motion asking the house to:

Express dismay at Tom Hicks and George Gillett failing to be responsible stewards of LFC.

Note the departure Rafael Benitez.

Regret the failure to provide a new stadium.

Support talks with supporters’ groups.

And look to an early change of ownership.

Mr. Rotheram, supported by fellow Merseyside MPs Alison McGovern, Maria Eagle, Dave Watts, Derek Twigg, and Bill Esterson, said: “I am a Reds fan but this was started by Peter Kilfoyle who is a Blue.

“This is not about Liverpool FC, or even the stadium. Both the clubs are in my Walton constituency and this is about the negative impact this impasse is having on certain areas of Liverpool.”

The Parliamentary new boy added: “I don’t know if this will be debated but someone told me I could do this so I did.

“It’s just one way of putting pressure on the owners which is something we all should be doing.”