Klopp or Ancelotti to replace Rodgers
JUERGEN Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are the leading candidates to succeed sacked Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, according to reports in the British media yesterday.
Rodgers, 42, was sacked on Sunday after a 1-1 draw with Everton left Liverpool 10th in the Premier League table, albeit only three points below the Champions League places, following a sixth-place finish last season.
Klopp, 48, has been out of work since stepping down at Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season, while 56-year-old Ancelotti, who previously worked in England with Chelsea, was sacked by Real Madrid last May.
Several news outlets, including Sky and BBC, reported that Klopp was the frontrunner, having led Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final appearance in 2013.
Announcing Rodgers' departure, Liverpool's American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) said: "The search for a new manager is under way and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner."
Rodgers, who took over in June 2012, led Liverpool to second in the Premier League last year.
But the English football club have since lost Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling and, despite significant investment in new players, Rodgers struggled to reproduce a winning formula.
"Liverpool needs a manager who is big enough to handle the pressure, without thinking he is bigger than the club," former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson wrote in an article for the BBC. "Whoever it is will have to buy into the mindset of the American owners - they want success, but their model is to try to get that by signing younger players they can train and, sometimes, sell on.
"Juergen Klopp is the favourite to get the job and he would fit the bill. At Borussia Dortmund, he built a team that were in your face, with good players that he was making better, but he also knew he would have to sell one or even two every year."
Whoever comes in at Liverpool must grapple with many of the issues that caused problems for Rodgers.
Liverpool's poor start to the season raised the question of whether FSG's blueprint for success was flawed or if the man chosen to implement it had simply failed.
Owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon answered that question unequivocally with the dismissal of Rodgers.
"They have got to get the feel-good factor within the club, which we haven't had for a while now, and maybe that might have tipped the balance with the owners," said former Reds striker John Aldridge.
On recent evidence, the case for Rodgers to have been given more time was not without holes.
Liverpool's second-half display at Goodison Park on Sunday summed up much of what has gone wrong for his side, who were disjointed and lacking direction.
Rodgers maintained that his players were "giving him everything", but the staleness of recent displays - which had yielded one win in nine games - suggests they will benefit from a managerial reboot.
However, it is significant that FSG will expect Liverpool's new manager to reinvigorate and rejuvenate an underperforming squad, rather than rip things up and start again.
That would appear to make Klopp the stand-out candidate.
Ajax manager Frank de Boer could also come under consideration, but it would take a revision of FSG philosophy for an elder statesman like Ancelotti to be targeted.
It is hard to disagree with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher's assertion that the five-time European champions have become a club seemingly in a permanent state of transition during Rodgers' spell in charge.
And whoever takes over will face many of the issues that challenged Rodgers, particularly with regard to the nuances of Liverpool's recruitment department.
Managing Liverpool, one of world football's most iconic clubs, can be seen as a dream job. But marry the level of expectation and the weight of history with the modern constraints, and it can quickly seem something of a poisoned chalice.