AVB, Martinez favourites for Reds job

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Andre Villas-Boas could take over at Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers isn't the only ambitious young manager in Liverpool's sights as they hunt for Kenny Dalglish's replacement.

The 39-year-old Ulsterman's stock has risen dramatically this season after Swansea City enjoyed a memorable debut campaign in English football's top-flight.

Only days after defending Dalglish's record at Anfield, Rodgers is now among the hot favourites to succeed the Scot but Liverpool's American owners also admire other bosses aged in their thirties.

And on their radar are 34-year-old Andre Villas-Boas and 38-year-old Roberto Martinez.

It's understood that Reds chiefs made contact with Villas-Boas in the past two weeks, in an attempt to establish his interest in taking over at Anfield, where Dalglish dismissed.

It's understood that Villas-Boas is interested and considers Liverpool to be the kind of high profile, marquee job which is the appropriate next step for him, following his unhappy nine months at Chelsea, where he was dismissed in March.

Roma, who have dismissed manager Luis Enrique after the club failed to reach any European competition despite the investment of American entrepreneur Thomas Di Benedetto, are understood to have made their own approach for Villas-Boas – before Liverpool's owners made their own inquiries.

But sources in Portugal suggest that Liverpool may be a more attractive proposition and one Villas-Boas considers to be the bigger name. Wigan chairman Dave Whelan said that Martinez had not been approached, though he does appear to meet the criteria of Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) in many ways, having introduced a footballing ethos which runs through all levels at the club. Rafael Benitez has received no contact from FSG.

The biggest question mark above the name of Martinez is whether Liverpool supporters would consider him a big enough name for their club.

The Americans have so far been careful to take supporters' views into account before making their moves on what has been a more difficult two years at Anfield than they had imagined.

Villas-Boas' agent Carlos Goncalves said when the manager was sacked by Roman Abramovich last March that his client had “no intention of even thinking about football until the summer”, though recent attempts to secure Villas-Boas' services as a media commentator for the forthcoming European Championships are understood to have been affected by the Liverpool and Roma approaches.

These have put his immediate plans into a state of some doubt, according to Portuguese sources.

Dalglish's dismissal was confirmed after the meeting with FSG which the Glaswegian had sought in Boston. Principal owner John W Henry explained to Dalglish their frustration with his poor use of club resources in the transfer market. The £110m spent on seven players did not bring the improvement FSG anticipated.

A Carling Cup win came after an unconvincing display against Championship side Cardiff City and after scraping an FA Cup semi-final over Everton, Henry was at Wembley to witness a poor defeat to Chelsea in the final.

The FA Cup semi-final took place several days after the Americans had dismissed director of football Damien Comolli.

Liverpool's search for a replacement for Comolli – an executive who wields enough power to hold the manager to account – looks like the most significant recruitment job at Anfield.

Chairman Tom Werner appeared to characterise Dalglish's role as that of a caretaker, when he paid tribute to him. “Kenny came into the club as manager at our request at a time when (we) really needed him,” he said.

“He didn't ask to be manager; he was asked to assume the role. He did so because he knew the club needed him. He did more than anyone else to stabilise Liverpool over the past year-and-a-half and to get us once again looking forward.

“We owe him a great debt of gratitude. However, 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.” – Belfast Telegraph


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