Big name or up-and-coming?
I donít know who the new manager will be, nor do I know who should definitely get the job. There are those Iíd be happy with, and those Iíd be less sure about.
What I will say is this: doing well at a small club does not automatically mean that a manager can do well at a bigger one; this is the classic mistake so many people make. But equally, doing well at a small club does not mean that is the limit of a managerís abilities.
And albeit with a project he inherited mid-season, Roberto Di Matteo has just won the Champions League (and FA Cup) without prior big-club management experience. But when he was at West Brom, I am on record as saying that I thought he had the right approach to succeed at a bigger club. Roy Hodgson may have ended up doing fractionally better than Di Matteo at West Brom, but Chelsea wouldnít touch Hodgson with a bargepole; he just doesnít have that big-club approach.
This article by Zonal Marking perfectly illustrates how someone like Roberto Martinez can make brave, clever decisions to solve problems. Heís ahead of the times; switching to a formation thatís on the rise across Europe. Itís not like heís stuck to the same approach, year after year.
Whether or not that makes him suitable for Liverpool I donít know; but you canít write him off based on his Wigan record. Heís not been at a club riding the euphoria of promotion, or one that has large fanbase, an intimidating atmosphere or any money to spend. Presumably heís being spoken to based on his sharp thinking, not his win percentage at a club aiming to scrape by each year.
Wigan sell their best players to keep stay afloat, receiving fees far in excess of what will be reinvested. Also, you can probably escape relegation more easily when playing football like Stoke (while playing football like Stoke wonít get you a job at a bigger club, where playing football like Stoke would be abhorred.) Martinez wouldnít be my first choice, but just as some players at small clubs are at the apex of their journey, others can join the elite.
The assistance of an experienced football man in a kind of General Manager role, to help co-ordinate a lot of the stuff that can sap a managerís time and energy, would mean that a less-experienced manager with bright ideas would presumably stand a better chance of succeeding. In theory it makes sense, but you can never know until itís tried.
Iíd obviously like to see Rafa BenŪtez at least considered, as the only current inhabitant of Merseyside to have managed a team to the Champions League. It was too soon for him when Hodgson was fired, and I frequently told people on this site that Iíd only discuss Rafa returning after Kenny had gone. (The amount of begging emails and tweets I received in relation to trying to help bring Rafa back was incredible; but until last week I fully expected Kenny to remain in position, and then, to me, the issue was moot.)
An altered structure behind the scenes might actually help BenŪtez, although the relationships with those around him would have to be solid. Heís great if people are on the same wavelength and pulling in the same direction.
Iberians make sense, as the Spanish flavour has worked well at Anfield in the recent past, and the Academy set-up employs two important figures from the Barcelona system, brought to the club by BenŪtez three years ago. Perhaps Pep Segura and Rodolfo Borrell will rise to the first team picture, and take an overview of the whole club.
Whoever gets the job, the structure should provide an assistance rather than a hindrance.
Finally, on a personal note, Iíve seen it said that FSG should be talking to a wider variety of fans than just me and one or two others.
First of all, as well as presumably downplaying the number of fans they converse with, this seriously overplays my influence. Also, Iíve been told that I speak only for myself, and not as part of any organisation.
As much as I gave my full backing to Spirit of Shankly in the fight against the previous owners, and as much as I believe in the importance of fans having a voice, Iím not sure theyíd want to be contacted with a one a.m. request as to how to create a Guardian chalkboard, or where to find certain statistics. Does it really need a committee to do that?
On the sporadic occasions when asked, I gave my opinion on football matters, but I also outlined the what other fans were saying (if different from my view), and gave the contact details of experts when the issue was beyond me. Iím not someone whoíll bullshit when lacking an answer; quite a lot of the time, I just donít know.
Beyond answering, every now and then, a few football-based questions, Iíve had no direct input whatsoever. As I said in my statement, I am free to email John Henry my views on footballing issues, but that doesnít mean heíll pay any attention.
As for a group of fans having a dialogue with the club, I assumed that was what the committee, chaired by Bill Shanklyís granddaughter Karen Gill, was set up to do:http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/latest-news/gill-named-committee-chair
The last time I heard her speak on the issue, a month or two back on the excellent Anfield Wrap podcast, she was very positive about the committee. I presume that, as intended, the club listens to these people, although as Iím not involved, I donít know how it all works.
Iím a not a political figure by nature, and try to retain my independence, so that I am not tied into any one direction (not to be confused by being tied to any of One Direction, something Iíd find equally unappealing.)
While I donít particularly appreciate being named in the SOS letter, even though they kindly forewarned me and said no malice was intended, I do continue to support their existence; I think itís important that the union remains together for situations like those we saw a couple of years back.
However, I donít think we are anywhere remotely near that stage.
They have every right to push for information, but the club also has a right to only release information when they think itís pertinent. This is not a criticism of SOS or a defence of FSG, simply what is supposed to be ďthe Liverpool wayĒ. You canít simultaneously communicate openly and keep everything behind closed doors.
Like anyone, Iíd love to know whatís happening with the stadium, but equally, itís hardly proved a straightforward issue for anyone over the past dozen years at the club. FSG have a track record of getting this side of things right in America, but perhaps things are easier to facilitate in Boston. We donít want to wait forever, but with at least £50m wasted on failed attempts, the club need to get it right; and for that, Iíd rather wait a bit longer. (Even if, by waiting longer, I am not saying that it will definitely be resolved; I have no idea.)
My only true wish now, as a Liverpool fan, is that the fan-base finds some common ground, and gets behind the next manager, whoever he is; and that, hopefully with stability and an improving team, FSG can successfully sort out some of the other issues with at least a modicum of goodwill retained. Failure on the part of any of those involved Ė fans, manager, players, owners Ė will just lead to more heartache. And weíve had our fill of that.