Who’s Next? : An Alternative List of Potential Liverpool Managers
By Patrick McLoughlin.
Last week saw the end of the Benitez era at Anfield; news came on Thursday that the Liverpool board had decided that after a disappointing season a new direction was required. Benitez who had been the Liverpool manager since leaving Valencia in 2004 was reportedly offered a fee of £3 million to walk, saving the debt-ridden owners the embarrassment of buying him out of the remaining four-years of his contract, which was only signed last year.
With Benitez gone, Liverpool now stand at a cross roads which could affect the club for years to come, with little money for new players, no Champions League football, disgruntled current stars and now no manager the club stands on the brink of the football abyss. The current owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks have been quoted as saying they intend to sell the club ‘by the end of the calendar year’ casting a further shadow of uncertainty over the future of Liverpool FC.
Now with the departure of Benitez the American owners have cemented themselves as the Anfield pantomime villains, regardless of a poor seventh place finish in the league and early exit from the champions league Rafa Benitez still commanded the loyal support of many Liverpool fans, seen as a man who was getting the best out of a side devoid of investment while at the same time fighting a civil war in the boardroom. Personally I was not a fan of Benitez’s style of football, too central and too defensive, games against Wigan, Portsmouth and Birmingham highlighted a sheer lack of quality throughout the side, even during a desperate season like the 2009/10 Benitez still insisted on playing a single forward and two defensive midfielders, infamously substituting Fernando Torres for David Ngog against Birmingham.
However, the real problem is, and always has been the owners. If they were going to replace the manager it must have surely been done immediately at the end of the season, consequently, the new manager now has little or no time to recruit players due to their commitment in the World Cup, combined with little or no transfer funds the new manager will have to be something quite special. A fans protest outside Anfield following Benitez’s departure shows the American owners that their sale cannot come quickly enough, however, that is a debate for another day, Benitez has gone and now Liverpool’s only worry should be finding a new man for the hot-seat.
But with the hysteria surrounding the position, certain names have been thrown into contention that are simply not going to take the job, no matter how much Liverpool fans want them. Guus Hiddink has remained loyal to his Turkey contract and will not be taking the job, neither will Laurent Blanc as he will be taking over the France national team after the World Cup and we’ve all heard the usual names such as Martin O’Neill, Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. So here is a list of alternative names that could make a difference, please discuss below…..
Name: Mark Hughes
Managerial Honours: None
At 46 Hughes is a young manager but an undoubted winner. He has experience not only at the highest level in England but also Europe, playing for both Barcelona and Bayern Munich and knows what it takes to win the league, a box which must be kicked in the new manager. His previous managerial experience includes the Welsh national team and Blackburn Rovers both were jobs which required getting the most out of limited resources and Hughes certainly over-achieved with both sides. This would no doubt be a strength when managing Liverpool and its debt ridden accounts. His slightly unfair dismissal from Manchester City earlier in the year did not give him the chance to show his ability when managing a higher profile team and must surely want a second stab at the big time in English management, Liverpool could be his perfect platform. However, Hughes is still an unproven manager and may not be ready for the potentially colossus job at Liverpool, his previous employers also include Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton and this may count against him when trying to win over the fans.
Name: Sven-Göran Eriksson
- Swedish Cup: 1978-79, 1981-82
- Swedish League: 1981-82
- UEFA Cup: 1981-82
- Portuguese League: 1982-83, 1983-84, 1990-91
- Portuguese Cup: 1983
- Portuguese Super Cup: 1989
- European Cup: Runner-up 1989-90
- UEFA Cup: Runner-up 1982-83
- Coppa Italia: 1985-86
- Coppa Italia: 1993-94
- Coppa Italia: 1997-98, 1999-00
- Italian Super Cup: 1997-98, 1999-00
- UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup: 1999
- UEFA Super Cup: 1999
- Seria A: 1999-00
Another name that will be familiar to football fans in England, albeit for his exploits on the front page rather than the back. Sven was the England national team manager between 2001-2006 and has a very strong CV. He has won both domestic and league titles in three different countries and also has internationally experience with England and Mexico. He has recently claimed that he is a life-long Liverpool fan and would jump at the chance if offered to him. His CV speaks for itself and he is currently at the World Cup with the Ivory Coast and will be a free agent after the tournament, potentially appealing to the cash-strapped owners, a respected boss who would be able to manage large egos with wide experience but his tabloid hi-jinx may count against him.
Name: Marcello Lippi
- Seria A: 1994-95, 1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2002-03
- Coppa Italia : 1994-95
- Italian Super Cup: 1994-95, 1996-97, 2001-02, 2002-03
- UEFA Champions League: 1995-96
- European Super Cup: 1995-96
- Intercontinental Cup: 1995-96
- FIFA World Cup
A legend in his own lifetime, Marcello Lippi has won quite literally everything. Vast experience both at club and internationally level he is also available without compensation after the World Cup as he is set to leave the Italy post. He would be a dream appointment, however, at 62 years of age and having never managed outside Italy it would be interesting to see if he would take the responsibility of Liverpool at this stage of his life. Nevertheless, if Liverpool were to persuade Lippi to join it would represent a real statement of ambition by Liverpool, a World Cup winner who has also won Seria A five times, the Champions league as well as other European silverware, Lippi would know what Liverpool needs and where to take them. His book, ‘A Game of Ideas’ also gives an insight into his concepts of football, suggesting he would bring a strong team ethic and solid tactics, a true football genius.
Name: Marco Van Basten
Managerial Honours: None
Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time Van Basten has an impressive trophy cabinet. However, what makes a great player doesn’t necessarily make a great coach. Nevertheless, Van Basten would signify a new and young direction for Liverpool. A pupil of the Dutch ‘total football’ school Van Basten would no doubt champion technical brilliance and attacking, smooth football such as he did at Ajax and with the Dutch national team, the antithesis of Benitez and his ‘just don’t concede’ policy. With Holland he managed to produce a team that not only attacked but looked good while doing it, his playing days will have taught him the discipline to win titles and playing with some of the European greats while at AC Milan will have surely prepared him for big games. Perhaps still a little on the inexperienced side when it comes to management he definitely has the potential to become a great manager given a chance.
Name: Jorge Jesus
- Portuguese Second Division: 1991–92
- Portuguese Cup Runner-Up: 2006–2007
- Intertoto Cup: 2007-08
- Portuguese League Cup: 2009–2010
- Portuguese League: 2009–2010
A relatively unknown manager Jorge Jesus already has Anfield experience as his Benfica team were knocked out of this season Europa League by Liverpool, although not without a fight. He has spent most of his managerial career in the Portuguese lower leagues and cut his managerial teeth the hard way, winning silverware in the lower leagues then earning his big break and taking over Benfica, who consequently have gone on to dominant Portugal under his guidance going on a 26 match unbeaten streak last season, could an English club take a gamble on a relatively unknown Portuguese manager and go on to win trophies? Just ask any Chelsea fan.
Jorge Jesus has also managed to assemble a very talented squad at Benfica which includes the likes of Pablo Aimar, Ramiers and Luisao and would therefore have no problem with big names and identifying quality targets for Liverpool, an obscure target but worth a punt?
Who would you like to see as Liverpool’s next manager?
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