Early Doors

Give Sven the job

Early Doors

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So, in the end it took £6 million for the Reds to rid themselves of manager Rafael Benitez.

He may have won them the Champions League, but ultimately it was losing their place in that very competition that cost him. In six seasons at the club only one was remarkably bad, but coming at a time of such uncertainty it was more than enough to earn him the chop. 

He never even got to say a proper goodbye. While his lawyers thrashed out his severance deal, Benitez remained afar, communicating to the fans who all once proudly declared "In Rafa We Trust" through a heartfelt statement.

Mind you, you can feel all the sympathy in the world for the man, but the last line of that message ("Thank you so much once more and always remember: You'll never walk alone.") is more than a tad cringeworthy. Perhaps whenever Arsene Wenger finally leaves Arsenal, he'll sign off with a tearful "Victoria Concordia Crescit"?

With Rafa out of the country when he got canned, the only images of him to be found were in looped compilations of his 'best bits', clips of him shouting on the touchline accompanied by the sound of several ex-Liverpool players who took time out from the golf course to give their two cents' worth.

Talking of former Liverpool legends, Kenny Dalglish has been installed as joint-favourite to take the job, although the fact that he has been enlisted to help club chief Christian Purslow recruit a replacement suggests that he won't be the man. Shrewd move, Kenny. Never go back.

So, who else is in the frame for the job? Will one of these men be offered the once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a club with debts of £350m, a tiny transfer budget, an uncertain future of ownership, feuding directors and absurdly high expectations?

Roy Hodgson (7/2): So popular that few would have complained had he been installed as head of the new coalition Government. Has a job for life at Fulham after transforming the club from relegation candidates to European runners-up, but may be tempted by one last 'big' job. He could coach the best out of the sea of mediocrity in the Liverpool squad, and work on their meagre transfer budget.

Martin O'Neill (2/1): There was a time when it was unanimously accepted that O'Neill would one day be Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United. He'd cut his big club teeth in Scotland, take a middling Premier League job before stepping into the Old Trafford hot seat. However, things haven't quite gone to plan at Villa, who have stalled somewhat as they bang their heads claret and blue against a glass ceiling. Could he make the step up elsewhere? And is joining Liverpool even a step up?

Mark Hughes (18/1): Available, but has already been on the receiving end from one set of unorthodox club owners at Manchester City. Will forever be associated with United, and would not be accepted by many in the Kop. But then, since when did Hicks and Gillett ever care about that?

Guus Hiddink (14/1): Perennially linked with every job going following his stellar cameo in charge of Chelsea last year. He seems to have settled into the comparatively cushy and lucrative world of international management, specifically federations who have talented teams and money to spend.

Juergen Klinsmann (6/1): In hindsight, perhaps Rafa should have walked after it emerged that Hicks and Gillett had met with the former Germany boss behind his back. Since then, Juergen's stock has plummeted following a disastrous spell at Bayern Munich. If Liverpool fans thought Rafa's 'fact' rant was embarrassing, then how about installing Buddha statues around Melwood? Yet another example of the owners' directorial brilliance.

Sven-Goran Eriksson (50/1): Never underestimate Sven's ability to talk his way into anything. A good World Cup campaign with Ivory Coast would give his not inconsiderable managerial record a boost, and he'll be available after the tournament whatever happens. Come on, it would be great though, wouldn't it? Please, please, please make this happen.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We've offered Theo and his girlfriend a free trip to South Africa. It seems the only 'Three Lions' he'll see will be on safari this summer." - lastminute.com see a cheeky PR opportunity, but end taking a very unsympathetic dig at a heartbroken 21-year-old. Shame on you.

FOREIGN VIEW: North Korea will be forced to play striker Kim Myong-Won as a goalkeeper during this month's World Cup in South Africa after they tried to sneak in an extra attacker by listing him as their third keeper, a plot The Sun inevitably described as "dastardly".

COMING UP:  Why does France v China have such an air of a pre-World Cup banana skin for Les Bleus? Find out how Domenech's men fare by following live text commentary at 18:00.

It's mens' semi-final day day at Roland Garros. Follow Rafael Nadal v Jurgen Melzer and Robin Soderling v Tomas Berdych via our live text commentary right here or watch all the action on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & on the Eurosport Player from 11:30. 

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