By Michael Cantillon
The pressure is intensifying on Brendan Rodgers following Liverpool’s mixed start to the new season.
The Merseysiders have won eight points from the opening six Premier League matches, which have yielded just four goals, and are 13th in the table.
Amid growing calls about Rodgers’ position, Football Insider assesses five candidates to become the new manager.
Managerial honours: Eredivisie x3, Dutch Super Cup x2, KNVB Cup, Portugese Super Cup, Copa Del Rey
Has helped Southampton punch above their weight, guiding the club to seventh place last year in the wake of a fire sale of their leading players, with three of them ironically moving to Merseyside. Has crucial Premier League experience and his recruitment track record is sound. The signings of Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle, Victor Wanyama, Toby Alderweireld and Sadio Mane have all been resounding successes. Koeman’s knowledge of the European market makes him a genuine candidate.
Verdict: With 15 years at the managerial sharp end, he is experienced and astute but an outside bet as he has yet to prove himself at a European super club.
Managerial honours: Champions League, La Liga x2, UEFA Cup/Europa League x2, FA Cup, Coppa Italia
Divided the Liverpool fanbase during his final years at the club but is still held in great esteem for his six-year spell in which the club became kings of Europe on that magical night in Istanbul and were regular diners at European football’s top table. Has not won a domestic league title since leaving Valencia in 2004 but is a specialist in cup competition and his tactical knowledge and game management remain in high demand by chairmen and owners. Liverpool approached Benitez at the end of last season but an attempt to entice him back to Anfield never got off the ground as it became clear he had nailed his dream job at Real Madrid. Benitez himself clearly holds a lot of affection for the club and the area; his family have a home in Merseyside and his children are being schooled in the area.
Verdict: Unlikely to happen in the short term as only two months into a new job at Real Madrid. A romantic return at some point remains a distinct possibility.
Managerial honours: None
The least experienced manager on this list, Monk has impressed at Swansea after Michael Laudrup was surprisingly axed 18 months ago. Has improved on the work of Laudrup and the Dane’s predecessor Rodgers by steering the Welsh club to eighth in last season’s Premier League and they have made another fine start to the new campaign. Annointed as the next great thing in British management, just as Rodgers was before him, Monk is also interesting the powers-that-be at Arsenal. However, managing mid-tier Swansea is one thing. Being at the helm at a club with huge expectations and a 24-year title itch that needs scratching is another.
Verdict: Still just 36 and undoubtedly one to watch but seems unlikely, due to his lack of experience. His big move will surely come, just maybe not yet.
Managerial honours: Champions League x3, Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, FA Cup, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, Copa Del Rey.
Impeccable pedigree and a wealth of experience. Has been there, done it and raised his eyebrow at elite clubs in Italy, Spain, England and France. After deciding to take a break from management and put his feet up at his Canadian hideaway following the end of his two-season Real reign, he has the great advantage of being available. What’s more, Ancelotti is an Anglophile and a Premier League winner. One of just two managers to have won three European Cups (the other being Bob Paisley), the Italian’s CV is mightily impressive. Whether he would be willing to work for owners with such limited ambition, and a squad lacking in outstanding players, is a moot question.
Verdict: An outstanding candidate who will be in high demand when he is ready to end his sabbatical. The big question mark is over he would think Liverpool has the trophy-winning potential he would regard as a minimum objective.
Managerial honours: Bundesliga x2, German Super Cup x3, DFB-Pokal
Was sounded out by Liverpool at the end of last season and has been advised to keep a close eye on the club’s matches. Another manager currently unattached, Klopp helped Borussia Dortmund punch above their weight as they not only went toe to toe with the mighty Bayern Munich for many years but also elbowed their way in among Europe’s heavyweights. Despite a disappointing final season, the 48-year-old’s reputation remains Everest-high and he will have the pick of many jobs when he decides to end his sabbatical. Would constitute a risk because he has never managed outside of Germany, but Klopp speaks good English, is an avid viewer of Premier League football and has made no attempt to hide his ambition to manager in England.
Verdict: The big favourite. Liverpool would love to have him. Would he love to have them in return?