LIVERPOOL have compiled a list of as many as eight potential managers, including Pep Guardiola and Fabio Capello, as the search for Kenny Dalglish’s successor gathered pace at an extraordinary rate on Thursday night.
Another bewildering day at Anfield began with managing director Ian Ayre outlining the broad criteria for a new manager and ended with a who’s who of candidates from the top of the European game to the lower positions of the Premier League.
A conference call including club owner John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and Ayre, formulated a staggering array of names including Guardiola, Capello, Jürgen Klopp, Frank de Boer, Andre Villas-Boas and Didier Deschamps.
The pursuit of Guardiola is staggeringly ambitious, but Liverpool are engaging in a reshuffle at Anfield which is expected to restore a Spanish influence. Reserve manager Pep Segura has been earmarked for a technical position with the first team, and the club are also keen on finding a role for former Barcelona sports chief Txiki Begiristain. Liverpool are also preparing to meet managers who have only recently started their coaching career.
Wigan’s Roberto Martínez and Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers are among those Henry wants to meet and official approaches were made to their clubs on Thursday night.
Martínez’s chairman, Dave Whelan, confirmed an approach within minutes of the request being made by Liverpool.
Liverpool on Thursday night emphasised there is no preferred candidate at this stage, and it is unclear how many of those pursued will be interested in a move to Anfield.
Earlier, Ayre suggested Liverpool’s status as one of the world’s elite clubs will be jeopardised if they fail to appoint the right successor to Dalglish. He refused to rule out the possibility of Martínez and Rodgers joining more illustrious names as part of the recruitment process. Within a matter of hours the first moves had been made.
Liverpool fans expecting a young, up-and-coming manager from a top European league were astounded when Whelan confirmed an approach to Martínez. They will be reassured by some of the other names under discussion, but there is a danger of the process appearing to be haphazard. Henry appears to be set on a course of allowing an orderly queue to form for the manager’s post. “It is about a whole cross section,” Ayre said.
“If you box yourselves into a corner you can only speak to three or four because they only fit a particular profile. You have got to have a more open mind about what you will consider and what you will look at. Then you assess everybody. Then you find the right person to fit in with the plan.”
Liverpool know they can ill afford another recruitment mistake as they look for a revival of Premier League fortunes, but fears are being expressed about the level of advice the American owners are receiving.
The new man faces an arduous task to restore former glories at Anfield. Jamie Carragher has suggested it could be another generation before Liverpool win the league title and stressed that the priority for the next manager should simply be to get the club back into the top four.
With Liverpool having finished seventh, sixth and eighth in successive seasons, Carragher underlined that there must be realistic expectations of the next manager. “When growing up, Liverpool were so dominant,” said Carragher. “Now we’ve almost got a whole generation of Liverpool fans who have not experienced being at the top. It’s still so ingrained in the club that the championship is what you need to be fighting for.
“At times it does get more difficult when a Chelsea come along with Abramovich and then Mansour comes along with Man City. I’ve been in the team 15 years and we’ve only challenged for the title a couple of times, which is not what we’d like.
“But, at the moment, I don’t think the title is in everyone’s mind, I think top four first. Let’s try and get back in that top four as quickly as we can and then once you cement your place, you establish yourself and go again.”
Asked if he feared that Liverpool might have to wait another generation to win the title, Carragher said: “You never know in football. I don’t think we’re the type of team that could just go out and spend £200?million like City can, and you’ve virtually guaranteed yourself a good chance of winning the title. I think we have to build a little bit slower than that.”
Meanwhile, Dalglish on Thursday night thanked Liverpool fans for their backing. He tweeted: “Overwhelmed by support of the fans. Always been special but even more so now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. YNWA and I never have.”