Liverpool waved goodbye to a legend once again yesterday as Kenny Dalglish was sacked from his post as Liverpool manager. The Club's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, reacted speedily and clinically to what they perceived as a disastrous record in the Premier League.
Dalglish had been at pains of late to stress that observers should recognize his achievements in winning the Carling Cup and reaching the final of the FA Cup. But the Anfield hierarchy believed that with £120 million spent on the squad, the team should have at least been a lot closer to Champions League qualification than the 17 points with which they eventually fell short of fourth place.
With the departure of King Kenny, who resigned from his previous spell in charge in 1991, thoughts have immediately turned to the identity of the Scot's successor. The club need to act fast, with transfer deals waiting for no man. And the remit is clear for Dalglish's successor: To bring the decorated club back to the glory of the Champions League. Here are the current favorites:
Andre Villas-Boas (5/4 with William Hill)Villas-Boas's reputation has taken in knock in England following his tumultuous short spell in charge of Chelsea last season. But it would be wrong to right off the man who won a hat-trick of trophies with Porto in 2011. The Portuguese faced a poisoned set of circumstances at Stamford Bridge with a group of players unwilling to adapt to his approach and carrying too much power with the club's hierarchy.
While the 34-year-old will undoubtedly admit that he also made mistakes, Liverpool could be the team to benefit from what Villas-Boas learned at Chelsea. He is currently the favorite with the oddsmakers and has reportedly already been in contact with Liverpool's owners.
Roberto Martinez (7/2)The young Spanish coach has been well respected among many in England for the way he has stuck to his philosophy of positive passing soccer, while leading unfancied Wigan to three consecutive seasons of Premier League survival.
And the former Swansea boss's stock has arguably never been higher after securing 21 points from the final 27 available to see Wigan finish seven points clear of the drop zone. Martinez turned down the chance to join Aston Villa last summer, but it is hard to see the 38-year-old doing the same if a club of Liverpool's stature came calling.
Brendan Rodgers (5/1)Like Martinez, Brendan Rodgers is rated as one of the best young managers in the Premier League. The former Chelsea coach achieved promotion with Swansea before leading the side, which many observers predicted were relegation certainties, to an 11th-place finish.
Rodgers also plays an attractive brand of soccer, something that is said to appeal to Liverpool's owners who believe it would aid the club's global image. The only drawback to the Northern-Irishman's prospects is his lack of experience, with only a single season of Premier League management in his locker.
Frank Rijkard (7/1)The Dutchman's success at Barcelona has largely been overshadowed by the array of trophies won by his successor Pep Guardiola, but a record of two La Liga crowns and a Champions League win in five years warrants respect.
The 49-year-old has been linked with the Liverpool job once before following the end to his ill-fated spell in charge of Galatasaray in 2010. But, currently enduring another largely unsuccessful stint, this time in charge of Saudi Arabia--who have already been eliminated from qualification for the 2014 World Cup--it would represent a gamble to give Rijkard another shot at the big time.
Rafa Benitez (8/1)Things ended acrimoniously for Benitez's reign at Liverpool amidst much public wrangling in the boardroom over the club's former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. But yet there is still much good will on Merseyside for the Spaniard who led the club to two Champions League finals, winning one, and coming close to claiming the Premier League title in 2009.
And that good feeling is requited by Benitez who maintains a love for the club as well as a home in the Liverpool area. The 52-year-old endured a short unsuccessful spell in charge at Inter after leaving Anfield and it would still be a major surprise if Liverpool's new owners went back to the future.