Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Hard reality to trump dreams? Hodgson managerial favourite ahead of Liverpool legend.

It’s beginning to look like Fulham manager Roy Hodgson could be the man to take over from Rafa Benitez at Anfield.  Several outlets report that Liverpool will approach the London club in the next 48 hours.  It is not considered likely that Fulham asking compensation of £2 million or so would derail any deal.  

The move could raise a dilemma of ‘heads over hearts’ for Liverpool fans.  Because it appears that Kenny Dalglish has expressed his readiness to take up the reins at the club, for the first time since resigning as manager, way back in 1991.

Dalglish was the last man to deliver a league title to Anfield and he went on to do an astonishing job at Blackburn Rovers.  The Scot is now in charge of Liverpool‘s youth Academy, but he hasn’t managed at senior level since 2000, when he spent a brief period in charge of Celtic.

It had been reported that Dalglish was tasked, along with managing director Christian Purslow, with compiling a shortlist of candidates.  For the Liverpool faithful, ’King Kenny’s’ thumbs up would represent an important endorsement for any new manager.

Now the Daily Post has cast doubt on the nature of Dalglish’s role in the recruitment process.  It suggests that, although he is prepared to accept the board’s decision, and support it, he did not play a part vetting prospective candidates.

The legendary Anfield striker instead wants the job for himself, and he believes he has the credentials to take control, after a break of almost twenty years.  It complicates a situation which is already far from ideal.

Unlike Hodgson, Dalglish could count upon the Kop’s unwavering devotion if he were to become manager.  Unlike Hodgson, Dalglish would be likely to restore a positive attitude and fans could look forward to a period of attacking football.

However, without money to bring in the quality which Liverpool currently lacks, there could be an element of Kevin Keegan’s last spell at Newcastle, about any Kenny Dalglish return.  It is extremely unlikely that past glories would be revisited until new ownership is secured.  

If the owners were to hand Kenny the job, it would be their most popular move since stumping up the cash for Fernando Torres.  It could, conceivably, relieve the pressure on Hicks and Gillett, allowing them to take a more leisurely, or greedy, approach to selling the club.

On the other hand, appointing Hodgson is practically an admission of defeat.  He has managed a top level European club just once before, stabilising Inter Milan and building a characteristically solid, unspectacular outfit.  Cynics will say that is precisely what Liverpool needs.

If the current owners stay, then expectations at Anfield have to be adjusted accordingly.  The club can’t afford to bring in, or retain, quality players.  It needs a manager who can squeeze the best out of a workmanlike squad, keep it in contention for a European place and occasionally create an upset against a genuine title contender.

Liverpool, a giant in world football, has not been in that position since the days of Shankly.  It would be the hardest dose of reality to go back there, but that is what a move for Hodgson represents.

Dalglish, in contrast, is a hopeful appointment.  But, with the current difficulties afflicting the club, does he symbolise unrealisable dreams rather than hard reality?

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