When Roy Hodgson's name was put forward for the Liverpool manager's job after Rafa Benitez was dismissed, a lot of fans were apprehensive, with yours truly being dead against the idea, so none of what is written here can be construed as being wise after the event.
No disrespect to Hodgson as a person, who seems to be a fairly affable character, but he should never have been a candidate to manage Liverpool. One needs to ask whether he would ever have been asked to manage Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City. It was a no-brainer.
To emphasise the point further, can you imagine the gut reaction of players like Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt, et al., having heard that the mighty Roy Hodgson was going to be their boss? Inexcusable perhaps, but we're seeing the reaction, or lack of it, week in and week out.
Despite all of the obvious reasons why he shouldn't have been a candidate, let alone appointed, Hodgson did have the opportunity to prove everyone wrong. If Liverpool had got off to a flier and gone unbeaten for a good few games, then the "famous Anfield support" would have definitely been there. But that window of opportunity disappeared long ago...
Now that it has gone and Hodgson having no intention of doing the honourable thing, Mr. John W. Henry has to take the difficult decision and terminate Roy Hodgson's contract with immediate effect.
Unlike the unequivocal opposition among Kopites to Hodgson remaining in charge, the consensus as to who should take over is less unanimous. There are several names that would seem to fit the bill and many fantasy names. Below are three realistic candidates with a brief overview of their credentials.
Age: 58 Current Club: None Previous Clubs: Aston Villa, Celtic, Leicester City
O'Neill has excellent man management skills and can motivate players with his "coaching" style of leadership. Though he has managed a championship-winning side in Celtic, the Scottish League cannot be considered to be that much stronger (if at all) than the Swedish League, where Hodgson last won a domestic championship.
His time at Aston Villa saw O'Neill overachieve with a mediocre squad, which again would seem to draw dangerous similarities with Hodgson. However, O'Neill has been consistent with his achievements over the years. On paper, Martin O'Neill seems to be an excellent candidate.
Age: 48 Current Club: None Previous Clubs: Galatasaray, Barcelona, Sparta Rotterdam, Holland
Rijkaard has experience and success coaching at both the club and international levels. As one of the "young generation" of managers, he also falls into the "fashionable" category, which seems to be all the rage.
Rijkaard also has experience in rebuilding a giant with Barcelona. However, with the constant flow of money that is available there, it could be considered that it would have been an achievement to not succeed.
His latest "failure" at Galatasaray should be taken with a pinch of salt. Top Turkish clubs are so susceptible to interference from outside influences that managing any of them is a thankless task at best. Rijkaard is another candidate that on paper looks like he could succeed in the long term.
Age: 60 in March Current Club: Liverpool Previous Clubs: Celtic, Newcastle, Blackburn, Liverpool
It is difficult for someone whose highest footballing highs, from childhood to young adulthood, were lived through the Dalglish era to write about the man without becoming a bit emotional and a little bit biased. However, Liverpool FC is greater than any one man, and this fact is not forgotten.
In short, for immediate effect and long-term glory, there is no better candidate. I don't think there is a single person that would argue that there is a person within Liverpool Football Club that doesn't respect Kenny Dalglish and hold him in the highest esteem, be it player, ground staff or tea lady.
To talk about Dalglish as a "short-term" replacement or "until a long-term successor is found" and to say "he has been out of the game too long" as an argument against his credentials is not only insulting to Dalglish but also very naive, to put it mildly.
Football management is not something you forget overnight (if at all), and Dalglish is not only not "out of the game," he is very much part of it at Liverpool Football Club. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of people who make these comments have NEVER been in the game yet still make comments about who is and who isn't a good player, which positions need strengthening and who Liverpool should buy in the January transfer window.
The fact of the matter is, of all the candidates that can be considered suitable for the post, no one knows Liverpool better than Dalglish. His appointment would bring an immediate and immensely positive vibe, and it would be very difficult to find a reason as to why Dalglish wouldn't be able to rebuild the club and why others would have a better chance. There is no better candidate.
***This article was written prior to the Blackburn debacle.***