Premier League - Paper round: Cruyff for Liverpool?

Fri, 13 Apr 08:30:00 2012

Kenny Dalglish's job is still on the line despite his vote of confidence from Liverpool's owners, according to this morning's papers, which offer some interesting candidates to replace him.

Daily Mail 'Scapegoat' - 0

'SCAPEGOAT' yells the Daily Mail's back page after director of football Damien Comolli paid the price for disastrous signings such as Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson.

The Mail claims the support given to Dalglish by owners Fenway Sports Group offers only a temporary stay of execution, and they are looking at Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal as possible replacements.

Cruyff's name is also linked with Liverpool by several other papers and the BBC, but it seems a ludicrously far-fetched suggestion.

Any serious pursuit of the Dutch legend seems destined to failure. He has not managed a club since leaving Barcelona in 1996, and just two months ago took on an advisory role with Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico.

Cruyff's appeal is obvious, given his reputation for stylish football and his work with Ajax and Barcelona's superb academies, and a behind-the-scenes role might make more sense.

But why a 64-year-old would end a 16-year exile from management to take on one of the highest pressure jobs in the game is far from obvious.

Van Gaal is another Dutchman with pedigree at Ajax and Barcelona, and has been out of work since Bayern Munich sacked him last year.

A hands-on coach who offers detailed tactical instructions, there is more than a hint of (whisper it) Roy Hodgson in Van Gaal's methods.

However, his sides play in an expansive 4-3-3 formation rather than Hodgson's functional 4-4-2.

The sense of King Kenny living on borrowed time is repeated elsewhere - here's a quick run through some more back page headlines.

Kenny Dalglish's job is still on the line despite his vote of confidence from Liverpool's owners, according to this morning's papers. - 2 Guardian: "Dalglish's job is safe, say Liverpool owners"

Daily Telegraph "Dalglish feels heat"

The Times: "Owners wield axe at Liverpool"

Daily Mirror: "Sacked for signing Carroll"

Daily Express: "It could be you..."

Daily Star: "Carry on Kenny"

The Guardian's Andy Hunter, meanwhile, questions the timing of Comolli's sacking, two days before an FA Cup semi-final against Everton.

Hunter writes: "It is a little risky to ask the six 2011 signings who are available for the semi-final – Carroll, Bellamy, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates (Doni is suspended and Charlie Adam injured) – to deliver against their Merseyside rivals after the clear inference that their employers are distinctly unimpressed with their investment.

"Would next Monday, when Comolli's sacking could have been portrayed as a mark of ruthless FA Cup finalists or a firm response to semi-final misery, have delayed the search for his replacement by a damaging degree?"

The Times's Tony Barrett agrees, describing the Liverpool purge's timing as "spectacularly bad" but says it showed Fenway Sports Group were finally making their presence felt.

Barrett writes: "Somewhat belatedly, it tells us that Liverpool's owners are ruthless and are not afraid of making controversial decisions, a message that will have been keenly felt by everyone at Anfield from Kenny Dalglish down to the players."

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