Liverpool FC: Top 10 Candidates to Replace Kenny Dalglish as Manager
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Kenny Dalglish shows no signs of letting up during his second reign in charge at Liverpool, but the Scot is the fifth-oldest manager in the Premiership and at 60 years of age, it would seem like a good idea for the Anfield side to start making plans for his successor.
When King Kenny is ready to leave the dugout, a move upstairs and a return to his former role as club ambassador would be the perfect finish to his Anfield career. Dalglish would be able to hand the reins over to a new manager and make sure that Liverpool continue to head in the right direction.
The rebuilding process that Dalglish started last season, when he took over from Roy Hodgson in January 2011, has started to reap rewards. This season the Merseyside club have reached the final of the League Cup, the last 16 of the FA Cup and currently sit seventh in the Premiership.
Replacing the Liverpool legend will not be easy, but here are 10 possible replacements.
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The current team captain and inspirational driving force behind so much of what Liverpool do right, Steven Gerrard has led Liverpool to Champions League and FA Cup glory while scoring in both cup finals.
He has played close to 600 games for the Merseysiders since making his debut in 1998 and has also been a regular fixture in the England side since 2000. Gerrard has played 89 times for his country and captained them during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
Gerrard has been a loyal servant to the club he joined as a nine-year old. He has only ever played domestically for his hometown club and would be a popular choice with fans. A move into management would be an easy transition for Captain Marvel and he could even possibly start the same way Dalglish did, as a player-manager.
The Premier League hasn't seen a player-manager since Gianluca Vialli was fired from Chelsea in 2000, but in 1985 when Kenny Dalglish was appointed to replace Joe Fagin, the idea of anyone filling this dual position was simply straight out of "Roy of the Rovers."
In Dalglish's first season in charge as player-manager, Liverrpool did the double, beating Everton in the league by two points and beating out Everton again in the FA Cup final, 3-1.
Dalglish would be able to mentor Gerrard until he was ready to lead the most successful English club of all time on his own.
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The stylish German national team coach came into prominence during the 2006 World Cup when he was assistant coach to Jürgen Klinsmann as the pair led the Germans to the semifinals.
The swashbuckling style of attacking soccer adopted by Germany was credited to the tactical genius of Low, and when Klinsmann stepped down from the head coach position, the former German midfielder was a popular choice to take over Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft.
Two years later at Euro 2008, Low took Germany all the way to the final where they lost 1-0 to Spain.
In the 2010 World Cup finals, Low's Germany played some of the most breath-taking soccer seen at a major tournament in a long while. Exhilarating victories over England (4-1) and then Argentina (4-0) took the Germans all the way to the semifinals in South Africa. The three-time champions were unlucky to meet eventual champions Spain, who again beat them 1-0.
When the 2012 European Championship starts this summer in Poland and Ukraine, the Germans will start as one of the favorites, having won all 10 of their qualifying games.
Joachim Low is contracted to the end of the 2014 World Cup, but his attacking brand of soccer would make him welcome at Liverpool.
Josep "Pep" Guardiola
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Guardiola is the hottest manager in soccer right now, and his FC Barcelona team are arguably the best team on the planet. Barcelona are the reigning UEFA Champions League holders, current La Liga champions, the winners of the 2011 UEFA Super Cup and 2011 Club World Cup, the latter after they emphatically beat Santos, 4-0.
A former Barcelona player and member of Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team," Guardiola has accumulated medals and trophies both as a central midfielder and manager at an alarming rate. "Pep," as he is affectionately known, was also a Spanish international who represented his country at the U-21, U-23 and full national level.
Guardiola not only has Barcelona winning, sometimes with ridiculous ease, but also has them playing beautiful soccer, week in and week out. The tiki-taka style of play, with its short passing and "keep away" possession, has become the envy of the world. The Spanish national team, which features a number of Barcelona players, play the same tiki-taka and are both world and European champions.
The appointment of Guardiola as manager would delight the Anfield faithful, and his incredible brand of free-flowing, intricate soccer would add a whole new dimension to the Premier League.
Kenny Dalglish getting advice from Steve Clarke
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Continued success used to be the Liverpool way. When Bill Shankly retired in 1974 at the age of 60, the Liverpool board replaced him with longtime club servant and boot room staff member Bob Paisley.
When Paisley retired in 1983 after six league titles in eight years, the Liverpool board replaced the man who had spent 44 years at the club with his assistant manager, Joe Fagan.
Fagan, who had joined Liverpool in 1958 as a coach, was another member of the boot room staff. When he retired in 1985, Kenny Dalglish was his replacement.
This passing the baton down within the ranks has provided Liverpool with stability and unprecedented success. If the Liverpool board were to take this idea up again, Steve Clarke would be the natural successor to Dalglish.
Clarke is highly respected throughout the Premiership and has previously worked with some of the biggest names in soccer. He started as assistant manager to Ruud Gullit at Newcastle United and then enjoyed great success with José Mourinho at Chelsea, before resigning from the club under Luiz Felipe Scolari to go work at West Ham United for former Chelsea teammate Gianfranco Zola.
The appointment of Clarke to the Anfield staff was the first addition Dalglish made to the team after taking control of the Reds last year. Clarke, as manager, would see a continuation of the policies he and Dalglish have implemented over the last 12 months.
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If Liverpool were brave or crazy enough to try and appoint another manager again from a fellow Premiership side, a better choice this time around might be Brendan Rodgers of Swansea.
The Welsh team's manager is highly coveted after guiding the Swans to promotion in his first season in charge, and he has managed to keep the Liberty Stadium side out of the regulation places for most of the season so far.
Rodgers has moved up the managerial ladder quickly. His first stint in the manager's chair came at Championship side Watford, where he quickly made a name for himself. After less than a year in the post, another Championship side came calling and Reading signed him up as their new man in charge. However, Reading didn't work out so well and the two quickly parted ways, but Rodgers bounced straight back and took control of Swansea in July 2010 and hasn't looked back.
Swansea, under Rodgers' command, have become known for keeping clean sheets and playing like Barcelona.
Rodgers is another, like Steve Clarke, who worked under José Mourinho at Chelsea.
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As Jose Mourinho would probably tell you himself, no talk of a top European club searching for a new manager would be complete without his name being mentioned.
The "Special One" has won the UEFA Champions League twice, first with Porto and then with Internazionale. He has won league titles in Portugal, England and Italy. His current Real Madrid side sit in pole position for this year's La Liga title. Mourinho has also won a number of different domestic cup competitions, including the FA Cup with Chelsea and the Copa del Rey last year with Real Madrid.
Often seen as a polarizing figure due to his perceived large ego and negative tactics, Liverpool know all about Mourinho after some big nights in European competition against his old Chelsea team. The Portugese is a proven winner, and there is nothing fans love better than winning.
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Former Liverpool, Notts Forest and England international midfielder Nigel Clough has steadily built his reputation as a manager, first at non-league Burton Albion and now at Championship side Derby County.
The son of Brian Clough, one of English football's greatest managers, Nigel Clough has managed to carve out a name for himself both as a player and now as a manager.
Clough spent over 10 years with Burton Albion and led them from the Northern Premier League to the top of the Conference. The Staffordshire side achieving promotion to Division Two in the same season that saw Clough left them to join the Rams.
In the two years Clough has been at Derby, he has seen a mixed bag of results, with long streaks of wins and longer streaks of losses. Clough's father was also manager of Derby, winning the First Division title for them back in 1972.
Nigel Clough is not as outspoken or as volatile as his father, but does come from a good soccer pedigree so it's only a matter of time before we see him managing a side in the Premiership.
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Another current Merseyside-born player who bleeds Liverpool red. Carragher, like his team captain Gerrard, has only ever played club soccer for the Anfield side and has represented England at international level.
The strong-tackling, no-nonsense defender has over 650 appearances for the Reds, and it's easy to see him moving to the coaching side of things once he decides to hang up his cleats.
Carragher knows what it would mean for the Reds and their fans to win a title, and his long service to the club would make him a favorite with those in the boardroom as well as those in the stands.
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Every time a managerial vacancy opens up in the UK, Martin O'Neill's name always appears at the top of any fan's wish list.
O'Neill has seen his stock rise again since taking over at the Black Cats. A great motivator and man-manager, O'Neill has helped bring the roar back to the Stadium of Light.
As part of Brain Clough's Notts Forest midfield, O'Neill spent 10 years at the club from 1971 to 1981 and helped them win two European Cups and one First Division title, as well as many other honors. The popular Northern Irishman also captained his country at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, where they recorded a famous victory over the hosts 1-0.
After retiring as a player in 1985, O'Neill entered into non-league management. He found his way to Wycombe Wanderers of the Football Conference in 1990, and within five years had guided them all the way up to the Second Division. After a brief spell in charge at one of his former clubs, Norwich City, O'Neill moved to Leicester City and won two League Cups with the Foxes during his five-year reign.
O'Neill replaced Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes on the sidelines of Celtic in 2000 and won the Scottish Premier League three years in a row. He also took the Glasgow team to the final of the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.
O'Neill took a break from soccer in 2005 to care for his wife but returned to the game as manager of Aston Villa in 2006, where he led the Villains to the League Cup final in 2010. O'Neill resigned five days before the start of the 2010-2011 season and had been out of soccer until his recent surprise return with Sunderland in December 2011.
With so much success as a player and manager, it is easy to see why O'Neill is always so popular with the fans. He has never managed one of the big five Premiership sides but his name will continue to be linked with most of them long after he has retired.
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Another former Liverpool old boy who is fondly remembered by the fans for his 13 years of loyal service, Nicol has not tested his coaching skills in the UK but was until recently the head coach of the New England Revolution. His 10 seasons with the club were rewarded in 2007 with a US Open Cup victory. He is currently without a club.
Nicol was signed by Liverpool in 1981 from the Scottish Division One side Ayr United but didn't break into the first team until 1983. He was often used as a utility player, equally comfortable in midfield or defense. He won five league titles with the Reds and one European Cup, plus many other trophies. He played under Dalglish and was a member of the Liverpool team that used to play "Fantasy Football." Nicol was also a full Scottish international and played in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Nicol has an understanding of the Liverpool way and knows what the cub means to fans around the world.
Whoever lands the job of following Kenny Dalglish when he steps down will face a hard task in stepping into the shoes of a legend. But if the right person can restore Liverpool to former glories, then they too will go down in Anfield folklore and will be known for creating a new Liverpool legacy.