FABIO Capello is emerging as an increasingly serious contender to become the next manager of Liverpool.
Liverpool interviewed Wigan Athletic’s Roberto Martinez on Sunday and are working their way through a long-list of potential candidates but the possibility of trying to employ Capello is being discussed with increased seriousness.
Despite his denial, before Saturday’s Champions League final, that he had been in contact with Chelsea, Capello’s camp have made it clear that he would be interested in the Stamford Bridge job and he has been pushing to be approached.
The 65 year-old Italian is not, at present, a serious candidate for Chelsea and also has two extremely lucrative offers on the table to coach in the Middle East — one to become the head coach of the United Arab Emirates national team and another to work in Qatar – but has also stated he would like to work in England.
He closely followed whether Harry Redknapp would succeed him as manager of England in case a vacancy arose at Tottenham Hotspur and while Capello’s preference would be to work in London, he would give serious consideration should Liverpool make an approach.
However, he would also be very expensive and although Liverpool are unlikely to want to match his wage demands, and the scale of transfer budget he would require, talks could still take place in the hope of persuading him to accept the job on a shorter-term, two-year contract.
There is real concern that with no chief executive and no sporting director, there is a lack of real leadership at Liverpool, and a strong character such as Capello might steady matters.
Liverpool have confirmed that Capello is on their list of candidates in what is becoming an increasingly chaotic recruitment process to succeed Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked last week.
Former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas would appear to be the outstanding candidate but at the Portuguese Cup final on Sunday between his former club Academica and Sporting, he told local broadcasters: “I’m still choosing the right project and that decision will take the necessary time.”
Villas-Boas knows that, after his bruising experience at Chelsea, his next move is crucial and has to work.
It would appear that Liverpool’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group, are unsure of the type of manager they want to employ given their varied list of targets and the number of potential candidates who are ruling themselves out. The latest of those, to add to Swansea City’s Brendan Rodgers and Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp, was Frank de Boer, who has won two successive league titles with Ajax.
“I am honoured by the request [from Liverpool] but I have only just started with Ajax,” he told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “In Amsterdam, we are on a new path and I, along with Wim Jonk and Dennis Bergkamp – my colleagues on the technical side – want to bring success. That’s why I will stay loyal to Ajax in the coming years.”
There is little hope of securing Pep Guardiola, who was also on Liverpool’s original eight-strong short-list which has grown and shortened in recent days.
Martinez was granted permission to speak to Liverpool last week with Wigan owner Dave Whelan going public with the request. The 38 year-old met Liverpool officials and then flew to Spain before, yesterday, heading off on a holiday to Barbados. Although the Spaniard is admired by the club, the lack of support for him among the supporters may be key in him not getting the job.
It is also thought that, despite the high-profile nature of his involvement in the process so far, Martinez does not feel he will be chosen.
Other candidates keep emerging — and some then disappearing — in the hunt for Liverpool’s new manager.
Louis Van Gaal is also strongly interested and the former Barcelona coach — who has recently left both Ajax and Bayern Munich in difficult circumstances — would be a similarly strong and didactic character to Capello and, again, would not appear to fit the apparent job brief of a younger coach.
Bert Van Marwijk, the coach of Holland who has previously been in charge of Borussia Dortmund and Feyenoord, is also continuing to be mentioned while the Liverpool owners admire Marseille coach Didier Deschamps, having interviewed him previously.
Another intriguing name to havesurfaced is that of the former Tottenham Hotspur and Germany striker Jürgen Klinsmann, now the national manager of the USA, who also endured a difficult time as coach of Bayern, but was touted as a potential Liverpool manager when the club’s former American owners were in charge.
Liverpool may believe their history will be enough to sell the club to the world’s top managers after parting company with Kenny Dalglish, but the names on their 'shortlist’ are changing rapidly after a string of rejections. Ajax’s Frank de Boer, and Jurgen Klopp, of Borussia Dortmund, have now joined Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers in ruling themselves out.