Sunday May 20,2012
By John Richardson
ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS will this week be offered the job of succeeding sacked Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.
Bruised owners John W Henry and Tom Werner, who have come under fire from large sections of Liverpool’s support for their botched handling of Dalglish’s departure, are cutting short their interview process.
An original plan to invite around 10 candidates to state their cases to become the new Liverpool manager has been hastily scrapped.
Now, just a handful of potential Kop bosses will be questioned by the Boston-based Anfield hierarchy.
There is still a fanciful notion that they can persuade Pep Guardiola to end his self-imposed exile with the former Barcelona manager sharing the same agent as Anfield striker Luis Suarez.
Sunday Express Sport understands that former Chelsea boss Villas-Boas heads a more realistic shortlist, while Wigan’s Roberto Martinez has already gained permission from his club to talk to Liverpool. Marseille’s Didier Deschamps is also in the frame but last night it was Villas-Boas who was closest to ticking all the Americans’ boxes.
If everything is agreed between both parties then it will be an amazing return to the Premier League for the 34-year-old Portuguese who was sacked by Chelsea in March after failing to come to grips with the job following his move from Porto.
Villas-Boas is also in Roma’s thoughts after the Italian club dispensed with Luis Enrique’s services. But it’s believed Villas-Boas would prefer the chance to prove his doubters wrong by taking the Anfield job. Villas-Boas was on the Liverpool owners’ radar after Roy Hodgson was sacked but they went down the emotional road and installed Dalglish.
The Scot was stunned by his dismissal, convinced that leading Liverpool to Carling Cup success and reaching the FA Cup final would allow him at least half a season to correct the club’s underwhelming Premier League form.
Written into his contract was a clause which guaranteed the Kop icon another high profile job at the club.
He was so deflated by the decision delivered to him after a face-to-face meeting in the USA on Monday that he negotiated a lucrative severance package in lieu of another Anfield position.
His number two Steve Clarke offered to resign in loyalty to Dalglish but has been persuaded to stay on – almost certainly to work alongside Villas-Boas.
Only a few weeks ago Dalglish talked candidly about his situation, admitting that despite his aura and standing with the Kop one day his time would be up – although he didn’t expect events to move so quickly.
He said: “It’s not about me, it’s about the club. There will come a stage where maybe it’s gone as far as you can go with me. If that happens and there is someone else who can take it to the next stage then so be it.
“We are not here for individual glory. We are not here for individual rewards. We are here for the football club. When your sell-by date is up, it’s up. If somebody else comes in I would have no reservations whatsoever. It’s not me. It’s not about any individual.
“When I was asked to come back I said I would help the club in any way I could. I am sure there will come a time when I am not helping the club.”
Messrs Henry and Werner decided that day had come last week – to Dalglish’s utter disappointment.