Sat, Jun 05, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Dalglish installed as favorite to take over at Liverpool

AFP , LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Former Liverpool star Mark Lawrenson believes Anfield icon Kenny Dalglish would be the ideal choice to replace Rafael Benitez as manager on an interim basis.

Benitez left Liverpool by mutual consent on Thursday after his six-year reign ended following the breakdown of talks with the club’s hierarchy over his future.

Former Liverpool boss Dalglish, who works for the Reds as an academy director and ambassador, has been installed as the favorite to take over, almost 20 years after his first spell in charge.

Dalglish won the double as Liverpool player-manager in 1986, as well as adding two more league titles in 1988 and 1990.

Lawrenson, who played with Dalglish at Liverpool during the club’s dominant era in the 1980s, is convinced he would be the ideal man to restore confidence at the crisis-hit club.

“I would have thought Kenny would be heavily involved and quite rightly so — maybe not just in choosing the manager, but holding the fort in the meantime,” Lawrenson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Former Liverpool captain Phil Neal admits Benitez’s record in the transfer market and his infamous verbal attack on Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last year were key factors behind his departure.

Benitez took on Ferguson over his criticisms of referees and the Premier League fixture list in a memorable press conference that saw him read from a prepared list of “facts.”

The Reds led the table at the time, but finished the season in second place, and Neal told Sky Sports News: “Maybe people thought Rafa had lost the dressing room somewhat throughout that season, maybe without that rant he may have clinched the title. When we were scoring goals galore, why have a go at Fergie — his closest rival for the Premier League most years? There was no way that was going to help the team. I thought that was a serious mistake on Rafa’s part and maybe he’ll reflect that now that he’s got plenty of time to think about what he did.”

Former Reds defender Phil Thompson, who captained the team to European Cup glory in 1981, said Benitez’s replacement must make sure Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres remain at Anfield.

“We need our star players if we are going to make any impact next year,” he told Sky Sports News.Thompson believes the club’s American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett shouldn’t be blamed for Benitez’s departure, despite his claims of a lack of support in the transfer market.

“I’m not saying the ownership has had a great deal to do with it,” he said. “A lot of his signings have not come up to the mark, and you live and die by your results and your signings.”

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