Liverpool eye Brendan Rodgers and Alan Pardew as Dalglish gets sack
Liverpool's US owners fire Kenny Dalglish after disappointing Premier League finish
SO LONG King Kenny. As reigns go it wasn't the longest – 16 months, give or take a day or two – before the man who arrived at Anfield with such fanfare was ruthlessly deposed by his American masters.
The fate of the 61-year-old Scot was sealed at the start of the week when he flew to Boston for face-to-face talks with John W Henry, Liverpool's majority owner, and the chairman, Tom Werner.
Dalglish wanted assurances from the pair, part of the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) which took control of Liverpool in October 2010, that he would not be sacked as director of football Damien Comolli was sacked last month. That assurance never materialised and Dalglish returned to the UK on Tuesday aware that the sands of time were running out.
They ran out on Wednesday when Liverpool issued a terse statement to the effect that Dalglish was no longer manager of the club: "After a careful and deliberative review of the season, the club came to the decision that a change was appropriate. It is not a decision that was reached lightly or hastily. The search for a new manager will begin immediately."
Chairman Tom Werner issued a further statement in which he said Liverpool owed Dalglish "a great debt of gratitude" for taking on the role of manager in January 2011 in the wake of Roy Hodgson's short and unsuccessful spell in charge of the Reds.
However, added Werner: "Results in the Premier League have been disappointing and we believe to build on the progress that has already been made, we need to make a change."
Names being mentioned by the press as possible successors to Dalglish include Chelsea failure Andre Villas-Boas, Marseille coach Didier Deschamps, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and Jürgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund, while The Sun speculates that Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers is in the frame.
It's believed Dalglish was bitterly disappointed with the decision to sack him, not just from a personal point of view, but because he feels the current squad is a work in progress that has much potential.
In addition, he could point to Liverpool's success in winning the Carling Cup this season (their first trophy in six years) and in reaching the FA Cup Final, feats that in years gone by would have been viewed as a good season's work.
But it was Liverpool's eighth place finish in the Premier League (the Reds' lowest position since 1994) that ultimately did for Dalglish. "Of course, I am disappointed with results in the league," he said in a statement on Wednesday, "but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the club to be back winning trophies."
Dalglish went on to praise the club's owners for the "honourable, respectful and dignified way" in which he was sacked, but how he must feel privately is another matter. Exactly a year ago, Dalglish was given a three-year contract by FSG and in comments that now look absurd he talked of what he wished to achieve at Anfield: "The place is much more stable than it was before, the supporters have got a smile on their faces and we want to keep the smile there for as long as we can. Everyone is pointing in the same direction."
In fairness to Dalglish, he wasn't the only one getting carried away. Captain Steven Gerrard greeted the news of the three-year contract with talk of a "bright future" while John Henry purred over his manager's "extraordinary leadership and the ability to bring the best out of so many people associated with the club".
In hindsight the only man talking sense was the Manchester United supporter who wrote of Dalglish on a club fansite: "He deserves the contract, but he'll now be crippled by the ridiculous, unrealistic expectations placed on his shoulders. It'll all go to shit within a year or two and he'll fail to see out his contract."
Who says United fans don't know their football?