Liverpool FC: 7 Possible Replacements for Kenny Dalglish
Before anyone gets upset with me, I am not suggesting that Kenny Dalglish be removed as Liverpool manager any time soon. What I am suggesting is that a view of the long term is taken to ensure continuity at the club for a prolonged period of time and that plans be put in place in the near future so that we never again have to deal with managerial uncertainty at the club.
The Bootroom is arguably the most important part of "The Liverpool Way" of doing things, or at least it was until Gerard Houllier decided in his wisdom to close it and try to change the way the club did things.
Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Reuben Bennett. The original Bootroom boys, the men who steered this club to a period of success that may never be matched. The men who established a tradition which saw Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Roy Evans carry on the Liverpool way of doing things, although admittedly to varying degrees of success(or unmitigated failure in the case of Souness).
Liverpool appointed Liverpool men because they understand the club, the fans and the city they represented. They knew what was expected of them, and they knew how to meet those expectations.
The appointment of Gerard Houllier changed that and the club has never really been the same since. While some success has followed both under Houllier and his successor Rafa Benitez the spirit of the club simply hasn't been the same. Houllier at least had a Liverpool man as assistant in Phil Thompson and he promoted some great homegrown talent to the first team but Benitez's Liverpool really had no connection to the teams of the past or the clubs traditional way of doing things.
It is my personal belief that for Liverpool to be successful once again they must get back to the Liverpool way of doing things and that means not only bringing our home grown talent into the first team, but also into the coaching staff and being able to promote the next manager "in-house".
In this article I will take a look at seven potential long term successors to King Kenny, these are all past or present Liverpool players who understand the club and have all won places in the hearts of Liverpool fans.
I hope you enjoy.
1. Didi Hamann
Didi Hamann has a great footballing brain to go with what was wonderful footballing talent.
One of the smartest players you're every likely to come across, Hamann possesses a fantastic understanding of the game. Having spent over a decade at Bayern Munich at the beginning of his career, he grew up around great tacticians and was given a well rounded education in the game which is something a lot of English players of his era weren't lucky enough to receive.
Hamann is a Liverpool legend having galvanised the team for seven years, during which time he helped the club win the Champions League, the UEFA Cup, and four domestic cups. Hamann was adored by the Liverpool fans for the way he played the game and the calm aura that surrounded him.
Never one to get flustered, and always one step ahead of the game, Hamann always looked like a player who would make the step into management. As well as the understanding of the game he always displayed as a player, he later proved himself to be an excellent analyser of the game during guest pundit appearances on Irish television network RTE during the 2010 World Cup, as well as during appearance on both BBC and SkySports in the UK.
Hamann took his first step towards management with coaching roles at Milton Keynes Dons, where he worked under one of the most promising young managers in the English game, Karl Robinson, and Leicester City where he worked under one of the most experienced managers in the game, Sven Goran Erikssen.
In July of this year he took on his first managerial position at Stockport County. Unfortunately his spell there didn't go to plan as he was forced to assemble the majority of a new squad with no funding and after a proposed take-over, which had influenced his initial decision to take the position, fell through Didi resigned from the club after only 19 games in charge.
I feel that it would be ideal to bring Hamann into the coaching set-up at Liverpool, and groom him towards the managers position. With his existing knowledge of the game and the wealth of experience and tactical nous he could pick up from not only Kenny Dalglish but also the rest of the coaches already at Liverpool, Didi could be ready to take the reigns in four to five years when the King decides to vacate the throne.
2. Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher was unlucky to be born in a golden era of English central defenders. Had he not had to compete with the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate he would certainly have won far more than the 38 caps that adorn his trophy cabinet.
For a three year period between 2004 and 2007 Jamie Carragher was one of the best central defenders in Europe and Liverpool's appearance in two Champions League finals during that time was in large part down to Carragher's performances.
I have been watching football for long enough to be able to accept that Jamie Carragher is past his best and no longer deserving of a place in Liverpool's starting 11, but it's still a little disheartening to see the team-sheet produced week after week without his name on it.
Jamie Carragher has been, along with club captain Steven Gerrard, a consistent presence in the Liverpoolt team over over a decade now and while Gerrard has struggled with injuries throughout his career, Carragher has had only a couple of lay-offs as a result of injury.
While Steven Gerrard has, unquestionably, been the heart of the Liverpool team during that period of time it is equally as unquestionable that the man we know as Carra has been the soul of the team. While Steven Gerrard has been the captain of the team and led the team by example it is Carragher who has been the vocal leader and organizer.
Carragher is well known to be a true student of the game, described by some as a football nerd he watches every match he possibly can. While watching matches Carragher studies and breaks down both teams, managers and the tactics used by both sides and has shown, in appearances on SkySports then he is an excellent analyser of football.
His love of the club is undying, despite the fact that he was born into an Everton supporting family and was a boyhood blue. It's hard to imagine Liverpool Football Club without Jamie Carragher being involved in some capacity or other. He has long been talked about as a future manager and I believe that the first steps towards that position should be taken this summer.
Carragher should move into a player-coach role so that he can begin to develop his coaching skills, while still contributing to the first team squad. Carragher commands the respect of everyone at the club from the owners down to the people that fix the fence around Melwood after young urchins cut through it hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
With the people Liverpool have in charge of football matters, Kenny Dalglish, Steve Clarke and Rodolfo Borrell, Carragher would receive an excellent grounding in the art of coaching and management and could be well positioned to replace King Kenny when the time comes for the great man to step down.
3. Sami Hyypia
Sami Hyypia is an immensely proud man and one of the proudest moments of his life was when then Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier appointed him as first team captain in 2002. It must have hurt him greatly when, just one year later, he was stripped of the captaincy so that the armband could be passed to Steven Gerrard.
Most players would have sulked, thrown the toys from the pram and possibly demanded to leave the club. Not Sami Hyypia. The big Finn simply got his head down and got to work. That takes a special type of man. A man who cares more about the club than his own personal stature.
It also takes a special type of player to make Djimi Traore resemble a real football player, but Hyypia managed that as well as he carried the hopeless Frenchman for a number of years.
Sami Hyypia is another Liverpool legend and man who the fans truly love. His final game at Anfield was marked by an outpouring of emotion and thanks that has usually been reserved for those special players who have made their way up through the ranks at Liverpool, or were part of the golden era of Liverpool Football Club.
Hyypia retired this past summer after spending a couple of seasons with Bayer Leverkusen and has made his first step on the road towards a managerial position by taking up a position at Leverkusen coaching youth players. It's a great place for Sami to start as German clubs are very well run and have very high standards of coaching so he'll learn quite a lot in his time there.
Liverpool should be extending an offer to Sami to return to Merseyside when he feels the time is right. With a couple of seasons at Leverkusen under his belt, Sami would be well placed to join the club and become a key member of the backroom staff with a long term view towards taking over the manager's role.
4. Markus Babbel
Markus Babbel arrived at Liverpool in 2000 and immediately made himself a part of the clubs history by playing a huge part in the 2001 cup treble. Playing at right back in what was arguably the best defence Liverpool have had since the famed defences of the 60's 70's and 80's, Babbel was simply wonderful for the Reds.
Unfortunately for both player and club Babbel contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome the following season and was unable to play for over a year. When he returned he simply wasn't the same player and his Liverpool career never got back on track. He spent a year on loan at Blackburn before leaving Liverpool and returning to his native Germany with Vfb Stuttgart in 2004.
Babbel retired as a player in 2007 and immediately moved into the managerial side of the game becoming assistant manager to Armin Veh and played a key role in helping Veh steer Stuttgart to the Bundesliga title in 2008.
When Veh was dismissed in November of 2008 with Vfb struggling in mid-table, Babbel was appointed as manager and in a resurgence that would make Kenny Dalglish proud, led them to a 3rd place finish in the league and Champions League qualification. Unfortunately for Babbel the following season did not go well and he was fired after a bad run of results.
He returned to management with second division side Hertha Berlin and at the first time of asking led them to promotion. In their first season back in the top flight, Babbel's team were sitting comfortably in mid-table, only six points of the Europa League qualifying spots when he was unjustly fired.
This represent the second time in his young managerial career that Babbel has been unfairly dismissed without been given a sufficient amount of time really mould the team to his own ideas.
As he is currently without a club, Babbel would make a prime candidate to join the current Liverpool coaching staff. He has proven he has what it takes to manage at the highest level and simply needs a club that has faith in him to be successful.
Whether Babbel would be willing to take a backroom role with a view to the manager's position somewhere down the line is unknown but it certainly can't do any harm for Liverpool to extend the offer.
5. Steve Nicol
The oldest candidate on this list and the one with the most managerial experience, Steve Nicol is one of the greatest players ever to play for Liverpool. Nicol was a jack of all trades, and a master of all during his time at Liverpool and ranks as one of the all-time greats in a number of positions for the club.
Nicol spent 10 seasons managing the New England Revolution in the MLS and while the major trophy, the MLS Cup evaded him, he did lead his team to the final four times in six seasons as well as winning a couple of minor competitions along the way.
Nicol and the Revolution parted company in October of this year after a couple of disappointing seasons but Nicol remains one of the most respected coaches in North America. At 50 he would not be seen as a long term successor to Kenny, but could perhaps help bridge a gap between the old and the young in a manner similar to what Joe Fagan did between Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish in the 1980's.
Nicol and Kenny are close friends and as a fellow Scot would likely fit in well with the current duo of the King and Steve Clark.
6. Jamie Redknapp
English football is crying out for young English managers and looking at Jamie Redknapp I see a man who could potentially be a very good manager.
As a player, Redknapp was captain of Liverpool and a very intelligent player who had a good understanding of the game as well as a great love for it. Injuries ruined what would likely have been an excellent career but Redknapp was never the type to feel sorry for himself and that in itself is a characteristic I look for in a manager.
As the son of a current Premier League manager who might just be the next England manager, Redknapp has management in his genes and has been involved in coaching on a part-time basis for the last number of years, first at Chelsea and now at Tottenham.
While some have criticised his appearances on SkySports as a pundit I've always found him very interesting and felt that he is one of the few who actually knows what he's talking about. I think Redknapp could, if he wanted to, do very well in management.
The question really is whether or not he wants to commit to it on a full time basis. He has a wife and two young sons who he is devoted to so whether or not the rigours of full time coaching/management appeal to him remain to be seen but at only 38 he still has plenty of time to make a decision.
Kenny Dalglish brought Redknapp to Liverpool as a young player, Redknapp was in fact the last player Kenny signed for Liverpool before his shock resignation in 1991, and it would be quite fitting if he were to bring Redknapp back to Liverpool in a coaching capacity.
As a player Redknapp was very similar in style to Pep Guardiola and as a man they have very similar personalities, I'm not saying he would be as good a manager as the Barcelona chief but I wouldn't rule it out either.
7. Xabi Alonso
Speaking of Pep Guardiola, here's a man who really does have all the characteristics of the Barcelona man.
Xabi Alonso is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most intelligent player in world football today. Blessed with a mind for the game that matches his immense talent, Alonso understands the intricacies of the game in a way that very few manage to achieve.
Alonso made his name at Real Sociedad before joining Liverpool in the summer of 2004 and won a place in the hearts of all Liverpool fans during his time here. If you ask any Liverpool fan what ex-Red they would love to see return to the club you'll got a near unanimous reply of "Xabi Alonso".
While it's unlikely that he'll ever return as a player given his age and the transfer fee Real would likely demand for him, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he could return in a coaching capacity with a view to one day managing the club he still holds close to his heart.
Alonso currently plays a key role in both the Real Madrid team of Jose Mourinho, and the Spanish National team which has been all conquering for the last four years and still has at least three more years left at the highest level before he'll consider calling time on his playing career but Liverpool would do well to keep in contact with the Spanish maestro and let him know that he'll always have a home at the club.
Alonso has indicated that he would be open to a return to the club during an interview with LFC.tv and has spoken of his love of the city, the club and it's fans on a couple of occasions since leaving in the summer of 2009 so his return to club in one capacity or another remains a distinct possibility.
Alonso, as I mentioned above, as all the characteristics of Pep Guardiola and could very well follow the path of the man who's place he filled in the Spanish National team.
Thanks for Reading
So there you have it, my list of seven Liverpool players, past and present, who could possibly become manager of Liverpool following what will hopefully be a long and prosperous second reign for King Kenny.
I'm aware that some people will be reading this and wondering why I haven't included Steven Gerrard and it's very simple. I don't think Gerrard has the mentality or personality to be a top level manager. I can see Gerrard moving into coaching and perhaps becoming an assistant manager to someone like Jamie Carragher, but I don't feel he'll ever become a manager.
If you feel I've missed out on anyone who deserves to be on this list, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this article, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. And if you've got five minutes more to spare, you might like to read some of this article about some potential transfer targets for the Reds - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/987544-liverpool-transfer-speculation-reds-monitor-ozil-eye-double-swoop-for-psv-duo